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Vatican 'displeased' by bishop's treatment

Says a 'fundamental divergence' exists over distinction between religious, political spheres

  • Alessandro Speciale, Vatican City
  • Vatican City
  • July 12, 2012
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The chief Vatican spokesman today expressed displeasure over the uncertain fate of newly ordained Auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin and said the situation has cast a cloud over what for the Holy See was a cause for celebration.

Father Federico Lombardi, head of the Vatican Press Office, told reporters during a briefing that the Holy See has had no direct contact with Bishop Ma, who was taken away by an unidentified group of people shortly after his ordination by papal mandate on July 7.

Bishop Ma is believed to be staying at the Sheshan Seminary in Shanghai, though this has not been independently confirmed.

“The situation is now not positive and it is a pity after an ordination that for us has been a source of joy and satisfaction,” he said.

Bishop Ma said during his ordination that he would give up his position as vice chair of the local government-sanctioned Catholic Patriotic Association as well as his standing membership in the national body, both unrecognized by Rome as official Catholic organizations.

Fr Lombardi emphasized a fundamental divergence between Beijing and Rome on the distinction between religious and political spheres.

“For the Church it is very clear that Church autonomy must be respected for what pertains to Church governance. The Church is autonomous and doesn’t want to interfere in political matters,” he said.

“I think that the Holy See’s position on the ordinations is very clear, from the points of view of both Church doctrine and correct procedure,” he said.

Fr Lombardi added that “it is difficult to explain these to people who think within a different framework and think they have a say” in religious matters.

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