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Shanghai ordination confuses Catholics

Participation of illicit bishop casts a shadow over upcoming ceremony

Father Thaddeus Ma Daqin Father Thaddeus Ma Daqin
  • ucanews.com reporter, Shanghai
  • China
  • July 5, 2012
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The government-sanctioned “open” Church community in Shanghai is ordaining a new bishop, Thaddeus Ma Daqin, on Saturday. However, the presence of an illicit bishop is casting a shadow over the holy sacrament.

Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian, 96, who heads the open community, will preside over the ordination of his successor at Xujiahui St. Ignatius’ Cathedral. Five other bishops are expected to take part.

Some Catholics feel the event is “a test of conscience” as they know that Bishop Vincent Zhan Silu of Mindong, an illegitimate prelate, will participate.

Some priests are disappointed with the diocese’s alleged compromise with the government and the state sanctioned Catholic Patriotic Association.

Following a meeting of diocesan priests and nuns on Monday, sources said, Bishop Jin had told them to let their own conscience decide whether they attend the ceremony or not.

But from his words, “I sensed that he wanted us to attend,” a source said.

“Bishop Jin also stressed the difference in nature between us participating in an illicit ordination without a papal mandate and an illicit bishop joining our legitimate ordination,” the source added.

The priests were also disappointed that Father Ma has not made his stance known.

Vicar-General Fr. Joseph Ai Zhuzhang, 87, who has said if any illicit bishop attends he would take off his mitre, is now “hospitalized” and probably unable to show up on Saturday.

While the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples published a stern statement on Tuesday warning against the illicit ordination in Harbin tomorrow, some mainland Catholics hope the Vatican can also give clear instructions on the Shanghai case.

Fr. Ma was elected and will be ordained as “coadjutor bishop” of the open community, but ucanews.com has learned that the Holy See approved him as auxiliary bishop and has not yet accepted the resignation of Coadjutor Bishop Jin. A diocese cannot have more than one coadjutor bishop.

Bishop Joseph Fan Zhongliang, 94, is the ordinary of Shanghai and leads the “underground” community. Not recognized by the government, he has been ill and has lived under surveillance for many years.

Besides Bishops Fan and Jin, Shanghai currently has an auxiliary bishop, Joseph Xing Wenzhi, more than 100 priests and 150,000 Catholics in the two communities.

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