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Shanghai bishop under house arrest appears in video

Video made for a one-day seminar commemorating late Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian
Shanghai bishop under house arrest appears in video

Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin of Shanghai, who has been under house arrest for four years, spoke in a video interview shot at the Sheshan Seminary in Shanghai. The video was presented at the seminar to commemorate the birth centenary of late  Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian. (Photo supplied)

Published: July 01, 2016 09:09 AM GMT
Updated: July 07, 2016 05:05 AM GMT

Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin of Shanghai, who has been under house arrest since 2012, has appeared in a video to mark 100 years since the late Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian was born, dispelling the rumor he would attend the commemoration in person.

The one-day seminar on June 28 was organized by the Shanghai Diocese in association with the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA), the church affairs commission and the Catholic Intellectuals Association of Shanghai to commemorate the late Jesuit bishop and his delicate role in the Chinese Catholic Church and his contribution to China-Vatican relations.

"The organizer interviewed many people, including Bishop Ma, for the video presentation and Ma gave his interview from in front of the library of Sheshan Seminary," a church source who asked not to be named told ucanews.com.

The caption for Bishop Ma read "Ma Daqin" and "Catholic Diocese of Shanghai," with no reference to his title. Bishop Ma spoke about the contribution of Bishop Jin to educating seminarians in the 10-second interview.

"[One could find] love of country and love of the church in him, blended together successfully. I hope the spirit of Bishop Jin will pass on and stay in our generation," Bishop Ma reportedly said.

"Although Bishop Ma could not attend in person, the video was an alternative way for him to appear. They are testing the water to see how the response is," a Shanghai Catholic who also spoke on the condition of anonymity told ucanews.com.

Bishop Ma recently caused a stir in China's church when he posted an article on June 12 in memory of Bishop Jin. In it he openly recanted his decision to quit his post at the CPA and sang praise for the organization.

The CPA was established in 1957 by the People's Republic of China to exercise state supervision over mainland China's Catholics. It is shunned by many of the country's estimated 10 million Catholics and has been accused of corruption.

Many Catholics believed Bishop Ma's article was an attempt to appease authorities so he could be freed and return to lead the Shanghai Diocese.

About 350 people attended the seminar that explored Bishop Jin's patriotic thought and the theology of "sinicization." They included Bishop John Fang Xingyao, Chair of the CPA and 10 other bishops, all approved by the Vatican.

Bishop Ma Yinglin, a CPA sponsored bishop and head of the government-sanctioned bishops' conference, sent a congratulatory message in his capacity as an alumnus of Sheshan Seminary, Shanghai.

Ya Na, a seminarian participant, recalled three conclusions of Hua Bei, an official of the Shanghai Religious Affairs Committee. Namely Bishop Jin should be praised for showing the right direction for the church; his legacy was founded on his obedience to his predecessors which should be carried on in the future; and the study of his legacy should be within the framework of the government's position towards religions, recently laid out at a national conference on religion, held in Beijing from April 22-23.

At the long-awaited national conference Chinese Communist Party Chairman Xi Jinping outlined his vision for "helping religions adapt to the socialist society." Xi called for unity between religious and non-religious groups, the localization of "foreign" religions in order to make these more "Chinese" and prevent foreign infiltration, a strict separation between religion and the state and for Party cadres to strengthen their supervision of religion.

 

Shanghai seminar 'marginalized'

The Shanghai seminar was originally scheduled for June 20, the centenary of Bishop Jin's birth (1916-2013). However, a Beijing-organized workshop for Catholic bishops and leaders forced the seminar to be rescheduled to June 28.

Observers believe the workshop was designed to marginalize the Shanghai seminary and co-opt the legacy of Bishop Jin to the CPA's approved narrative. "It is the party's tactics to use an event for multiple purposes," said an observer.

Two weeks before the seminar, commentator Chuling Yifeng, who is known for his accurate observations of the Shanghai Diocese and for being sensitive to the dynamic of the church in China, posted an article on the popular Tianya Club internet forum, opposing Beijing's decision to host a high profile seminar to commemorate Bishop Jin's birthday.

Officials from the United Front Work Department, the government agency that liaises with religious groups and the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) in Beijing and Shanghai, delivered speeches at the seminar. However no senior officials at a director level attended.

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