1985-12-24 00:00:00

Appointment of Taiwan´s first indigenous bishop is Taiwan´s most outstanding Church event of 1985, according to many observers here.

Pope John Paul II´s appointment of Father Joseph Lin Tien-chu, 50, who is expected to be ordained bishop of Chiayi in January, is also considered a milestone in the Taiwan Church´s 126-year history.

Another major event of 1985 was promotion of Bishop-elect Lin´s predecessor, now-Coadjutor Archbishop Joseph Ti-Kang of Taipei, with right of succession.

The hierarchy in Taiwan is almost entirely mainland China-born, having come to the island following the Communist´s mainland victory in 1949.

Only 50 priests, including aborigines and Chinese, are Taiwan-born.

"Taiwanization" made more headway among Religious congregations as they elected Taiwanese to succeed foreign superiors during the past year.

Ursuline Sister Dorothy Liu Ing-hua, a tribal, succeeded Sister Ursule Blot as superior at Martha Institute in Hualien, and Sacred Heart Sister Gratia Shih Li-lan took over from Sister Jeventia Pekozdy as superior of Sacred Heart of Jesus Sisters in Tienchung.

Mercedarian of Berriz Sister Isabel Arana was succeeded by Sister Tecla Yue Wei-li, and Sister Viola Wing was succeeded by Sister Catherine Liu as regional superior of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, Hualien.

But a different development occurred when Austrian Divine Saviour Father Andreas Mohr succeeded Chinese Father Bonaventura Chow as superior in Ilan.

Fu Jen Catholic University in Hsinchuang hired its first female theology faculty extra-ordinary professor, Taiwan-born Maria Chang Hsueh-chu.

Among other Taiwan Church stories in 1985:

-- Mother Teresa of Calcutta made her first visit to the island and met President Chiang Ching-kuo. Her talks in Taipei and Kaohsiung triggered financial aid to starving Ethiopia.

Mother Teresa also opened a second Missionary Sisters of Charity residence, in Hsichih. Her sisters work in Tainan and her Missionary Brothers of Charity work in Taipei.

-- The Commission for Social Development of the Chinese Bishops´ Conference (CBC) raised NT$2,859,910 (US$71,910) in a first-ever lenten campaign in 150 parishes and 12 schools and institutions. The money will help the poor in Sudan and Tanzania, and Indochinese refugees in Thailand. Plans call for a 1986 campaign to take place in all of Taiwan´s 407 parishes and 592 institutions.

-- A Jesuit-run Kuangchi Program Service (KPS) documentary on Kampuchean refugees that was aired as a five-part television series in mid-year has been credited with changing the island´s attitude toward Indochinese refugees.

KPS reported Dec. 18 that Caritas has received NT$18 million (almost US$500,000) for refugee work in Thailand.

-- For International Youth Year (IYY), more than 6,000 young people, mostly students, gathered in Fu Jen, Taichung, Tainan, Hualien and Taitung. Factory workers, the majority of Taiwan´s young people, were seen as under-represented.

-- Inculturation lags in much of Taiwan, but lay volunteer apostles gave it a boost during the past year.

There are about 250 volunteers already working on the island, and during 1985 another 300 women and men began training -- lasting two to three years -- in Kaohsiung, Miaoli, Hsinchu, Taoyuan, Chungli, Taipei, Hualien and Keelung.

"Future apostles attend courses one or two evenings a week, once every three days or a week per month, depending on their professional circumstances," according to Augustine Chao, assistant director of Volunteer Lay Ministers Promotion Center, Taipei.

-- During their "ad limina" visit to Rome, Taiwan´s bishops heard Pope John Paul II say they are natural missioners to the Chinese family.

Telling the bishops he prays daily that full union of the Church in mainland China with the universal Church will come soon, he said, "Taiwan´s bishops have to be vivid witnesses of the faith to their brothers in mainland China."

At a special audience in 1984, the pope urged the bishops of Taiwan to build a bridge to the Catholic Church in China.

During the past year, the only public move in Taiwan regarding the Church on the mainland was a Mass Oct. 6, attended by 500 people, including bishops, priests, nuns and lay people at Taipei´s Holy Family Church.

Prayers were offered at the Mass for the well-being of Bishop Ignatius Gong Pinmei of Shanghai, released on parole July 3 after 30 years in prison.

The Nationalist Republic of China government permits no direct contacts with the Communist government either in trade or by telephone, mail or travel.

-- In general, this past year had fewer major religious events than 1984, the local Church´s 125th anniversary.

But there were quieter developments, such as increased Bible study to prepare for Taiwan´s 1987 synod on evangelization and a growing charismatic movement.

In the view of local observers, ecumenical efforts with Protestant churches and dialogue with non-Christian religions remained undeveloped in 1985.

Asserting that factory workers and other marginalized groups get little response from Church leaders, critics say "prophetic voices" questioning the Church´s institutional power structure are silenced or regarded with suspicion.


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