Newly-Ordained Shanghai Bishop Goes Missing

Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin, who quit the state-endorsed Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) over the weekend during a mass for his ordination as bishop of Shanghai, has reportedly been isolated at a seminary on the outskirts of the city. From The New York Times:

Ma did not return for Mass on Sunday and was being confined at Shanghai’s Sheshan seminary without contact with others, according to Lam and the websites AsiaNews and UCAnews. They said the move most likely was ordered by local officials assigned to supervise religious life.

“Local officials overreacted and now they’ve created a crisis for Beijing and for Shanghai,” Lam said in a telephone interview.

In his announcement in front of hundreds of worshippers, Ma, 44, said he was stepping down from the Catholic Patriotic Association, the ruling Communist Party-controlled body that oversees the Chinese church, to focus on ministry. The Vatican does not recognize the Catholic Patriotic Association, and the body’s existence is a major form of friction between Beijing and the Holy See, who have no formal relations.

Calls to the Shanghai diocese rang unanswered Tuesday and the CPA did not immediately respond to faxed questions.

Hong Kong media first reported Bishop Ma’s disappearance on Saturday evening, according to Vatican Insider, and Catholic news service claimed that the Shanghai diocese received a text message from him yesterday saying he “needed a break” and had “made a personal retreat”. Today, an official from the CPCA told The South China Morning Post that he had received no news of Ma’s whereabouts.

Ma wasn’t the only bishop ordained over the weekend, but he was the only one endorsed by the Vatican – AFP reports that China’s state-run Catholic church defiantly ordained Father Yue Fusheng on Friday as well:

The Holy See had warned this week it deemed the consecration illegitimate and vowed to excommunicate priests who participated.

But the government’s State Administration for Religious Affairs hit back in a statement on its website on Friday.

“The attitude was extremely rude and unreasonable,” it said. “We urge the Vatican to revoke its so-called excommunication threats and return to the proper position of dialogue.

“Continuing its practice of choosing and ordaining bishops is urgently needed for the Catholic Church in China to carry out its work of pastoral care, evangelisation and church management.”


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