Updated: December 16, 2012 10:10 PM GMT
The Vatican’s top Chinese prelate blasted the recent revocation of the appointment of a bishop by government-sanctioned authorities as being “devoid of any legal value” and divisive for the China Church.
Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-fai, secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, issued a statement yesterday condemning the dismissal of Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin of Shanghai by the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC) and CCPA, the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.
Bishop Ma was ordained as Auxiliary Bishop of Shanghai on July 7 but was quickly placed under effective house arrest in a seminary in the city after publicly announcing his withdrawal from the CCPA during his ordination ceremony.
Archbishop Hon said the BCCCC had “no power to appoint, approve, revoke” or sanction bishops – all the more so in the case of the bishops’ conference, which is not recognized by the Holy See.
He added in the statement, published in Italian by the Vatican news agency Fides, that Bishop Ma “remains in his office as Auxiliary Bishop of Shanghai” and that revoking his status “from an ecclesial point of view, is devoid of any legal value,” while also creating “pointless divisions in the country.”
The statement further praised Bishop Ma’s “laudable fidelity to the Church” and his “sincere love for his country.”
It added: “This abuse of power is all the more painful, as it attacks the communion and the discipline of the Church during the Year of Faith,” proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI.
Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong echoed Archbishop Hon’s concerns in a blog post published today.
Zen said the CCPA and the bishops’ conference were behaving as though they had the right even to depose the Pope.
“They have decided that the Church in China is none of the Pope’s business. Can this be anything other than a schismatic Church?” said the Shanghai born cardinal.