ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
Updated: June 18, 2014 04:27 AM GMT
A lay Catholic kisses the ring of Bishop Thaddeus Ma during his episcopal ordination in 2012.
Auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin, who has been under de facto house arrest since 2012, is to remain in detention.
The influential bishop, who defied the government in July 2011 when he became the first bishop to publicly quit the state-backed Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, should continue his “repentance and reflection,” officials told clergymen and nuns attending a "learning" class last week in Shanghai.
Shanghai diocese suspended Bishop Ma’s priesthood ministry for a period of two years, leading his followers to believe he may be released soon.
“Government officials said explicitly in the last class that Bishop Ma has to continue his repentance and reflection,” a source at the class told ucanews.com. “So this means that he is not coming out to lead the diocese.”
Now being held for a third year, the classes are jointly organized by the local diocese, the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department and the Religious Affairs Committee of Shanghai.
The premise of the classes is to “enhance [the] national, legal and civil awareness” of nuns and clergy who, through their evangelization work, are in touch with many social groups.
A diocese notice also claims the classes are aimed at assisting with “a correct understanding” on the independent Church’s relationship with China and patriotism.
The notice also instructed attendees to “arrange their work ahead, be punctual and not to take leave”.
One attendee who spoke anonymously to ucanews.com described the classes as "brainwashing".
The next class in this session, to be held later this month, will be at the Central Institute of Socialism in Beijing instead of Shanghai. Another source, known only as "Joseph," told ucanews.com that he suspects the venue change is because the Bejing authorities do not trust those in Shanghai to instill the government message forcefully enough.
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