Loyal Chinese bishop reverses stand, endorses Patriotic Association

Loyal Chinese bishop reverses stand, endorses Patriotic Association

Catholic World News – June 15, 2016

[Under pressure from the Vatican because of Frankenpope’s new Fernostpolitik (Far East policy) of appeasement toward the ChiComs and their puppet church? To satisfy his Ostpolitik of appeasement toward the Communists in Eastern Europe, Blessed Pope Paul VI in 1971 ordered Cardinal Mindszenty to leave his 16-year sanctuary in the US embassy in Budapest – after the brutally-suppressed 1956 Hungarian revolt – for exile first in Rome and later in Vienna – and in 1973 His Holiness stripped His Eminence of his titles as Archbishop-Prince of Esztergom and Primate-Regent of Hungary]

After four years under house arrest, Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daquin of Shanghai has shocked loyal Catholics by endorsing the government-backed Catholic Patriotic Association.

Bishop Ma dramatically renounced his membership in the Patriotic Association at his episcopal consecration in July 2012. As punishment, he has been confined to his quarters and unable to engage in public ministry, although he has been able to communicate with the faithful by means of a blog.

On June 12, Bishop Ma unexpectedly praised the Patriotic Association. It is not clear what caused the bishop to abandon the stand that had led to his confinement under house arrest, but his reversal is a major propaganda victory for the Chinese government, which insists that the Patriotic Association must control the Catholic Church in China. The Vatican refuses to recognize the Patriotic Association, and has denounced the group as an affront to the autonomy of the Church.

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7 comments on “Loyal Chinese bishop reverses stand, endorses Patriotic Association

  1. God help him.

    Holy Chinese martyrs, pray for us.

  2. I don’t know who finally broke the good man down. Was it the ChiComs or Francis?

  3. China and Vatican: incredulous reactions and distress over Shanghai Bishop Ma Daqin’s “volte-face”.

    [Hat-tip to Sandro Magister at Il “pentito” vescovo di Shanghai riprende la tessera del partito. Roma tace e acconsente (Google English translation in comment below)]

    Bernardo Cervellera

    After resigning from the Patriotic Association, and having suffered four years under house arrest, Msgr. Ma appears to have retracted his positions, lauding the PA and its’ functions in favor of the Chinese Church. Some faithful believe he “was forced”; others that he is the victim of “too much pressure”; for others still, this “submission” is the “price he must pay” to regain freedom for the community of Shanghai, where perhaps the seminary (closed for 4 years) will reopen in September. The Vatican gives little credence to the bishop’s statements. A Chinese bishop wonders whether dialogue between the Holy See and China is of any use and is concerned that someone in the Vatican piloted Ma Daqin’s “confession” to please the Chinese government.

    Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Vatican officials advise “not to make too much of what is written” in a blog posted on June 12, where Msgr. Thaddeus Ma Daqin proclaims his support for the Patriotic Association (PA) and asks forgiveness for the mistakes he made in the recent past.

    But among Chinese priests and lay people from different parts of China, the bishop of Shanghai’s “re-conversion”, after four years under house arrest, is provoking reactions of dismay, disbelief, pain, as well as anger toward the government that has managed to “isolate one of its citizen for four years” and after considerable pressure “make him confess to anything”. In addition, a bishop fears that someone in the Vatican suggested Ma Daqin “confess” to please the government.

    On July 7, 2012, the day of his episcopal ordination (see photos), approved by both the Holy See and the Government, Msgr. Ma had communicated his decision to leave the Patriotic Association to devote himself fully to his pastoral work. During the ceremony he had also avoided the laying on of hands by an illegitimate bishop. For his “insubordination”, a few hours after the ceremony, he was placed in solitary confinement in the Shanghai Sheshan Seminary, at the foot of the shrine of Our Lady Help of Christians, denied all visitation rights and stripped of his right to bear any sign of his Episcopal ordination neither miter or cross, nor celebrate in public.

    The authorities “revenge” of what they considered an insult to China’s religious policy was total: They closed the seminary; placed controls on female religious orders, closed down the diocesan publishing house; would not allow the opening of a Holy Door for the Jubilee of Mercy; large sums of money disappeared from the accounts of the diocese. Msgr. Ma was also stripped of the title of “bishop” of Shanghai and subjected to “investigation for violating norms”. Meanwhile, the government of the diocese was entrusted to five dean-priests but they are only permitted to manage nominal tasks that are least problematic. In this situation, the Diocese of Shanghai, one of the liveliest in China, risks being stifled by starvation.

    The “confession”

    At this point, enter the u-turn and “re-conversion” of Msgr. Ma Daqin.

    For all these years, Msgr. Ma was allowed to keep a blog on sina.com, on which he often posted his spiritual reflections, ponderings, or participated virtually in universal and local Church events. Sometimes the blog was blocked, before being restored. On June 12 last, he posted an article that we translated and published in full. It is the fifth in a series dedicated to the figure of Msgr. Aloysius Jin Luxian, the official bishop of Shanghai, who died in 2013, to whom he was ordained coadjutor (for the government; Auxiliary for the Holy See), on the centenary of his birth, on June 20. The article, entitled “He taught us to take the path of loving the country, loving the Church”, expressed appreciation for the way in which Msgr. Jin was able to hold together his missionary efforts with respect and cooperation with the PA. The text highlights Msgr. Jin’s ability to seek the “independence” of the Chinese Church, the fact he did not depend on “foreigners” in in governance or among his personnel, but at the same time sought to live in unity with the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church”. Msgr. Jin’s teaching, continues Msgr. Ma, helped him to “respect the laws of the State” and to view the PA’s contribution to the management of the Church’s life in a positive light. At a certain point, what might be termed a “confession” emerges: “For a certain period of time – writes Msgr. Ma – I was dazzled by the glare of foreign elements that led me to do and say wrong things with regards the PA. After some thought I realized that my actions were not wise. My conscience was not at peace because I hurt people who had cared for me and helped me for a long time. I had ruined the wellbeing of the diocese Msgr. Jin had built with so much effort. These errors should not occur in the Church of Shanghai, which has a long tradition of love for the motherland and for the Church. This was why, I did not feel at peace of heart, only remorse and was hoping to have the opportunity to correct my mistakes. I have always maintained a strong affection for the PA in Shanghai, derived from its constructive role and its contribution to the development of the Church, in implementing the policy of religious freedom and in the resumption of religious activities and in the growth of pastoral ministry after launching of the opening and reform, and in particular, all of its actions towards me, great and small, ever since I arrived here. The PA is not how many abroad judge it to be. I believe that most of the clergy and the faithful of Shanghai support it and trust it. The PA has an irreplaceable role in the development of the Church in China, “.

    And he concludes: “In the Easter Vigil hymn, we sing the’ Felix Culpa ‘: today this word seems to pull us up but also give us hope: It pulls us up on our sins and mistakes for which we must do penance; it gives us hope because after receiving admonishment, [from] where we have fallen, we must stand up and start a new life”.

    The reactions

    Many Chinese faithful are incredulous at Msgr. Ma’s “u-turn”. A Christian from central China is not “sure” that the article on the blog was really written by the bishop. “He had never spoken of politics before. What’s more a few months ago his account was deleted from weibo [the Chinese Twitter]. So you cannot contact Msgr. Ma in any form to ask him about this change. ”

    For several young faithful of Shanghai “it is a lie: the letter is not by the bishop. It was written by someone else. It is the usual government game, and we don’t believe it anymore”.

    This disbelief is also due to the fact that in recent years Msgr. Ma had become something of a symbol of the Church’s resistance (official!) to government and PA interference in the lives of communities and many hoped that other bishops (official) would follow his example by standing firm in the principles of faith. Msgr. Ma’s net stance had produced a greater unity in the Church of Shanghai between the official and underground communities. The latter, in fact, do not accept PA enrollment, given that its statutes explicitly contain the principle of seeking to build a Church “independent” of the Holy See. A priest in northern China is concerned that Msgr. Ma’s latest stance will once again “divide the community and drown it in confusion. The government knows how to exploit these situations”. The priest believes, Msgr. Ma “was forced to write those things, perhaps in exchange for a minimum concession of freedom. It’s sort of price to pay, as in the case of the bishop of Zhouzhi (Shaanxi) “. The reference is to Msgr. Martin Wu Qinjing, ordained without PA permission and kept in solitary confinement for 10 years. He was installed by the government as bishop of his diocese only after agreeing to concelebrate with an illegitimate bishop.

    Another priest from Eastern China also cites the example of Msgr. Wu: “I think it’s an imposition just like with Zhouzhi”, he tells AsiaNews. He adds: “This pains me deeply. Msgr. Ma Daqin had become a model for those suffering hardship because of the faith. Right now, China is facing a huge challenge. Often, young priests try to obtain the most convenient situation that will ensure a certain tranquility, without problems. Instead, there are some fixed points from which you cannot turn back, or the government is likely to absorb the life of the Church, transforming it into a meaningless body”.

    Other faithful of Shanghai think that the article was written by Msgr. Ma and this greatly upsets them: “Everything that he has stood for and witnessed to date – says Jiang, 30, – is useless now. If he had continued, he could have a positive impact on the whole Church. ” Others, however, show compassion and understanding for the bishop: “Who knows what he must have endured and suffered for so long. Now the government no longer has any obstacles to strengthening its control over the Church, with the PA and the council of bishops “[both bodies not recognized by the Holy See] dominating all else. “I think – says another young man – that no one can resist pressure and isolation for too long. The Chinese government can even make a stone confess to its mistakes on television”. The reference is to the series of televised “confessions” by activists, journalists, editors, human rights lawyers with their “live admissions”.

    Taking this into account, the comment of a Vatican official (who has chosen to remain anonymous) made to AsiaNews is of note. The official advises against “giving too much credence to this ‘confession’, until the circumstances in which it took place are clarified”. The official states that the Vatican did not advise Msgr. Ma to “soften” his position.

    Several people are wondering what Ma could gain, having paid so dearly. For example, there are increasingly strong rumors that predict the re-opening of the Shanghai Seminary next September. The seminary was closed on the heels of seminarians “collaboration” with Msgr. Ma: during the episcopal ordination ceremony, they had kept illicit bishops who wanted to join the celebration out of the church.

    A Chinese bishop in southern China questions: “It is a pity that the Vatican is silent. In my view, the Holy See must reiterate that the article contains elements that are not compatible with the doctrine of the Church, no matter who the author is. This silence only creates confusion and generates many questions: how is it that the Holy See continues to maintain dialogue with the Chinese government allowing such manipulation of a bishop? I hope that Ma Daqin’s ‘conversion’ was not piloted by someone in the Vatican to promote an increasingly pointless dialogue”.

  4. The “penitent” bishop of Shanghai takes the party ticket. Rome is silent and consents

    Google translation of Il “pentito” vescovo di Shanghai riprende la tessera del partito. Roma tace e acconsente

    Sandro Magister
    Settimo Cielo (Seventh Heaven)

    It’s been four years house arrest, since that July 7, 2012 in which he was ordained bishop of Shanghai, China’s economic capital, and resigned as a member of the Patriotic Association to dissolve all subordination to the regime and to shine his unconditional loyalty to the Catholic Church.

    His name is Ma Daqin, and since then he has witnessed the heroic resistance of the Chinese Church to the dictates of Beijing. Has been. Because Sunday, June 12 appeared on the Internet a text that seemed to all its retraction and self-reproach. “Asia News” has translated in Italian and in his key passage it states:

    “For a time I suffered the dazzle of foreign elements that I said and did mistakes the Patriotic Association. After reflecting, I realized that actions were not wise. My conscience was not quiet because I had hurt to people who for a long time they had taken care of me and had helped me. I had ruined the good condition of the diocese that my predecessor Mgr. Jin had built with so much effort. These errors should not occur in the Church of Shanghai, with a long tradition of love for the motherland and for the Church. for this reason, in my heart I did not feel at peace and I had remorse and was hoping to have the opportunity to correct my mistakes. I have always maintained a strong affection for the patriotic Association Shanghai, derived from its constructive role and its contribution to the development of the Church, in the implementation of the policy of religious freedom and in the resumption of religious activities and in the pastoral ministry growth after the launch of the opening and reform, and in particular all big and small actions towards me ever since you came in. The Patriotic Association is not as abroad, many felt it. I believe that most of the clergy and the faithful of Shanghai support and have confidence. In the development of the Church in China the Patriotic Association has an irreplaceable role “.

    Not go back to auto da fe of the notorious Maoist Cultural Revolution, it is a fact that in today’s China’s self-accusations are back in vogue. We were recently forced many publishers, journalists, defenders of civil rights lawyers, seized by the police, made to disappear for a while ‘, and the will reappear on television to confess their sins and their conversion.

    It touched on something similar to another bishop, Martin Wu Qinjing , the Diocese of Zhouzhi in Shaanxi, ordained without the permission of the Patriotic Association and punished with ten years in isolation, freed last July after bend concelebrate with excommunicated bishop approved by the regime but not from Rome.

    What baffles many Chinese Catholics is the silence that the Vatican authorities maintain on private bishops of freedom.

    Since Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the pope, China is the primary goal of Vatican diplomacy, first of all with the coveted goal of an agreement between Rome and Beijing on the procedures to appoint bishops. But never once the Pope, or the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, or anyone else involved in these talks inconclusive so far has given no sign to require, as a condition “sine qua non” of the negotiations, the release of Bishop Su Zhimin Baoding, a long time in prison, and the bishop Ma Daqin of Shanghai, to house arrest.

    Evidently, to see these bishops free to return, the only viable way seems to have remained that joke last year by “regretted” the bishop of Zhouzhi and these days from that of Shanghai.

    Which, however, continues to remain inaccessible to external contacts. With the result still it was not possible to verify the authenticity of the text, its degree of sincerity and his real background.

    Father Bernardo Cervellera , director of “Asia News,” has collected in China rumors that even the Vatican is not a stranger to the pressures on Ma Daqin, he softened its resistance.

    Nothing surprising. A raise strong voice against the submissiveness of Vatican diplomacy there is only the indomitable bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen Zekiun , but to which Rome no longer give the least listening [see Google English transation in comment below].

    As for Francis, the ‘ interview he gave last February 2 at the online newspaper of Hong Kong, “Asia Times” is a superb example of Realpolitik pushed to the extreme.

    It is for his silence on matters of religion and freedom.

    It is for his words wildly assolutrici of past, present and future of China, urged to be “merciful unto itself” and even to “accept their journey for what it was,” as “flowing water” and all purifies even those millions and millions of victims that the pope never mentioned, not even veiled.

    • Cardinal Zen against the Vatican diplomacy in China

      Google translation of Il cardinale Zen contro la diplomazia vaticana in Cina

      Sandro Magister
      Settimo Cielo (Seventh Heaven)

      In the speech he addressed on 11 January to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, with a large section focused on migrants, Pope Francis did not mention China.

      But we know that this great country is in the foreground in the attention of Francis, which he remembers the impetuous response to a reporter’s question: “If you go to China? Tomorrow.”

      In mid-October a Vatican delegation went to Beijing. And it transpired that he discussed the mode of appointment of bishops, whose recent settlements have taken place almost all to the will of the only communist authorities, in defiance of the authority of the pope.

      And the Vatican delegates would discuss it without demanding beforehand, as a condition “sine qua non” of the negotiations, the release of Bishop Su Zhimin of Baoding, some time in jail, and the Bishop Ma Daqin of Shanghai, under house arrest for more than three years.

      The meetings would come to nothing. This has not prevented the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to declare that “talk is already positive” and “is part of a process that hopefully will end with an agreement.”

      Even more optimistic is the picture of the current relations between Beijing and Rome dashed from a book published in recent days, written by a Shanghai Chinese converted to Catholicism as an adult and a research fellow in the University Sophia Focolare in Loppiano, in Tuscany:

      > Kim claret Sheung Yan, “The Gospel beyond the Great Wall”, EMI, Bologna, 2015

      But there is also a downside. And it is the deadly indictment against the Vatican diplomacy published by the Chinese Cardinal Joseph Zen Zekiun, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong – now Benedict XVI advisor for China but marginalized by Pope Francis – the same day of the solemn presentation in Rome, in a ‘ classroom of Vatican Radio, the book just quoted.

      According to Zen, on the appointment of Chinese bishops but not only, the path embarked on by Vatican diplomacy can only lead to an unsuccessful outcome, equal to that of Ostpolitik with communist countries.

      So in fact Zen concludes his indictment:

      “What they do not let me calm you see our eminent Secretary of State still intoxicated Ostpolitik of the miracle. In a speech last year, memorial of Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, praised the success of its predecessor to have secured the existence of the Church hierarchy in communist Eastern European countries. he said: ‘in selecting the candidates for the episcopate, we choose the shepherds and not the people who oppose the regime on principle, people with attitude gladiators, people who love the show political stage ‘. I wonder: who had in mind the cardinal while doing this description? I am afraid that he was thinking of a Cardinal Wyszynski, a Cardinal Mindszenty, a Cardinal Beran. But these are the heroes who bravely defended the faith of their people! It scares me to think this way, I hope I got it wrong.

      “The day that you will sign that agreement with China there will be peace and joy, but do not expect me to participate in the celebrations of the beginning of this new church. I disappear, I will start a monastic life to pray and do penance. I will ask apologize to Pope Benedict for not being able to do what he was hoping that I I could do. I will ask Pope Francis to forgive this old suburban cardinal for having bothered with so many inopportune letters.

      “The innocent children were killed, the angel told Joseph to take Mary and Child fleeing to safety. But today our diplomats might advise Joseph to go and groped a dialogue with Herod?”.

      • Here’s an easier to read translation from AsiaNews of Cardinal Zen from Jan 9. It is quite long, but it ends with the same words as above.


        On the day that an agreement is signed with China there will be peace and joy, but do not expect me to participate in the celebrations of the beginning of this new Church. I disappear, I will start a monastic life to pray and do penance. I will ask the forgiveness of Pope Benedict for not being able to do what he was hoping that I could do. I will ask Pope Francis to forgive this old Cardinal from the peripheries for disturbing him with so many inappropriate letters.

        The innocent children were killed, the angel told Joseph to take Mary and the Child and flee to safety. But today would our diplomats advise Joseph to go and humbly beg for dialogue with Herod !?

  5. Vatican silence over Shanghai’s Mgr Ma Daqin causing confusion and controversy

    Bernardo Cervellera

    For some, Mgr Ma’s blog post praising the Patriotic Association and acknowledging his mistakes is nothing but “dirt”. For others, he chose humiliation for the “sake of his diocese”. Many wonder why the Holy See has remained silent about the article’s content and the bishop’s persecution. Some suspect the Vatican views the episode in positive terms. Yet, the Ma Daqin affair raises a major question. Has Benedict XVI’s Letter to Chinese Catholics (which describes the Patriotic Association as “incompatible with Catholic doctrine”) been abolished? If it has, who did it? A journey of compromises without truth is full of risks.

    Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In Shanghai, confusion continues to prevail among Catholics following their bishop’s betrayal.

    Mgr Thaddeus Ma Daqin, who spent four years under house arrest for quitting the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA), “confessed” his errors on 12 June in an article in which he praised the CPCA for its the “irreplaceable role” in the development of the Church in China.

    Many Catholics and friends of the bishop believe he was forced to write that article, and that its content is just “dirt”. However, a priest in northern China (also under government surveillance) has words of compassion for Mgr Ma.

    “Mgr Ma Daqin’s change is understandable,” he told AsiaNews. He agreed to put up with all the humiliations [he received] after closely considering them. He did it for the sake of his diocese, so that he could go back to take care of it.

    “The Chinese government was beside itself after ‘losing face’ to the bishop’s attitude four years ago. His contrition and praise for the Patriotic Association on his blog allow the government to regain its sense of honour, and this could make things easier for Ma himself.”

    Yet, for many Chinese Catholics, in different parts of the country, the biggest surprise is the silence coming from the Vatican. Many would like the Holy See explain whether the article that Mgr Ma wrote or did not write contains “elements that are incompatible with the Catholic doctrine.”

    Has Benedict XVI’s letter been abolished?

    In fact, the article, full of lavish praise for the CPCA, undermines what Benedict XVI said in his Letter to Chinese Catholics, namely that the implementation of the “principles of independence and autonomy, self-management and democratic administration of the Church is incompatible with Catholic doctrine” (N. 7). For many Chinese, the Vatican’s silence gives the impression that Benedict XVI’s letter has been superseded. A 70-year-old clergyman asked, “Has Benedict XVI’s Letter to Chinese Catholics been abolished? If so by whom? With what authority, since Pope Francis said that it was still valid?”

    “Let us assume for argument’s sake that Mgr Ma’s article is an attempt to reach an agreement with the authorities. Is there not a risk placing the journey of faith into the hands of political scheming? How far can this bargaining go? Once we accept to be subordinate in one situation, we are on a slippery slope. Where will it end? What matters to us? Do we accept everything the CPCA and the government tell us? Do we accept excommunicated bishops? Do we accept every unlawful bishop (those who have not yet been officially excommunicated)? If this is the case, there is no truth. Why continue being Christian then?

    Many expect Mgr Ma to ended up like Mgr Wu Qinqing, bishop of Zhouzhi (Shaanxi). Ordained without CPCA permission, he was held in solitary confinement for ten years. He was eventually installed by the government as bishop of his diocese after agreeing to concelebrate with an unlawful bishop.

    “Soon enough, we shall see Ma Daqin concelebrate Mass with an unlawful bishop, or he will put on a show of his “conversion” during preparations for the Ninth Assembly (of Chinese Catholic representatives), or even during the Assembly.”

    “The Vatican’s silence in this situation is something really bad because it creates more confusion, to the say the least,” said bitterly the clergyman from a diocese in central China.

    A southern bishop also feels quite embarrassed by the silence coming from the Holy See. “It doesn’t matter who wrote the article, the Holy See must reiterate that the article contains elements that are not compatible with the Church’s doctrine,” he said. “Otherwise, this creates suspicions and fears, as if someone in the Vatican allowed Ma Daqin’s ‘conversion’, perhaps hoping to engage the Chinese government in dialogue. The silence coming from the Holy See only creates confusion and raises many questions.”

    Failure of China-Holy See talks

    Ma Daqin’s flip-flop represents the “failure of the Vatican’s policy vis-à-vis China,” said a Beijing professional who spoke to AsiaNews. “If the published article is by Mgr Ma, we must acknowledge that the Vatican’s policy (of engaging the government of China whilst insisting that the CPCA is “incompatible with Catholic doctrine) is a failure. If it is not by Ma Daqin, then it was an act of compulsion and persecution, which no one has denounced, not even the Holy Se.”

    “What this episode shows is the failure of the Vatican’s policy. The latter has never morally backed Mgr Ma Daqin, even though he sent many messages to the pope. From the Holy See, he only got an embarrassing silence.”

    “If Ma Daqin was forced to write the post on his blog, it means that he was the victim of violence, forced to follow the regime’s policy of false religious freedom. This, once again, shows the failure of Vatican’s policy towards the Chinese government. This dialogue failed to provide this poor bishop even a minimal form of freedom.”

    It is worth noting that this position is the opposite of what some commentators said recently about China-Vatican relations, namely that Ma Daqin’s affair is a sign of hope for talks between Beijing and the Holy See because it removes some obstacles.

    In all this, no one has slammed Chinese authorities for placing Ma Daqin under house arrest for four years. No one has felt outraged that a bishop of the Catholic Church could not be reached in order to know what he thought, how he lived, or what he suffered. He is just a case, a negative one first, now positive one, in the relationship between China and the Holy See.

    Yet, Pope Francis has called on priests and bishops (and I think also lay people) not to reduce human problems to the status of “cases,” but rather take to heart the harassed faces of those involved.

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