The bishop’s five-day visit to the Chinese capital is over. Asked by local journalists about patriotism, the bishop of Hong Kong said that “we have to learn to love the country and the church”. The visit has not been reported by official Catholic bodies.
The bishop of Hong Kong began his visit, at the invitation of the “official” archdiocese of the Chinese capital. Welcomed by Archbishop Li Shan and a few dozen faithful, he prayed in the cathedral before an image of the Jesuit pioneer of Christianity’s inculturation in China. His visit’s goal is to “promote exchanges and interactions between the two sides”.
Reports from Shanghai after Beijing’s unilateral appointment indicate a tense climate. Whether wilfully or not, Bishop Shen plays a political role in a context in which the authorities rule every aspect of life in China. The very mystery we celebrate tells us, however, that suffering, opposition and even death are not the last word.
In his Easter message, the bishop recalls the 6,000 people detained awaiting trial for "violence" in 2019 and pleads for clemency: "Waiting indefinitely will not help them or our society." A thought to those who left Hong Kong: "God will not forsake us who sincerely call upon him, seeking a more just and freer homeland for all who inhabit it."
Beijing's unilateral decision to appoint Bishop Shen Bin affects an episcopal see that is key in the past and present of China’s Catholics. Card Kung Pin-mei, who spent 30 years in prison, also served in Shanghai, where Our Lady of Sheshan is venerated and in whose name Benedict XVI instituted the Day of Prayer for the Church in China.
The investiture comes with a letter from the Council of Chinese Bishops, a body not recognised by the Holy See and linked to the Communist Party. The dismay of the faithful. The new pastor promises to continue with the "sinicisation" of Catholicism in China. Analysts: The Holy See wanted the return of Msgr Joseph Xing Wenzhi.