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Several items:

From AsiaNews: 50 years of the CPCA:

The Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) will celebrate 50 years on August 2. Some 5,000 people have been invited for the occasion, but quite a few of the would-be guests will find the right excuse or the courage not to go. In the meantime, both official and underground bishops, priests and faithful are under tighter controls, which shows the uniqueness of the Chinese Church, as Pope Benedict XVI himself recognised in his Letter to Chinese Catholics.

This is not a good time for the powerful CPCA. Created by the Religious Affairs Bureau of the People’s Republic for the purpose of introducing party ideals into the Catholic Church, it can now boast more than 3,000 secretaries, deputy secretaries and bureau chiefs, plus many more office workers. All these people are in charge of about 5 million Catholic members of the official Church. They appoint bishops, give “advice” as to who should be priests, evaluate male and female vocations for seminaries and convents, and supervise diocesan administrations.

In such a supervisory role they have often been accused by underground Catholics of pilfering diocesan property on their own behalf and that of public and private firms and businessmen.

But for Catholics loyal to the Pope, the CPCA is the “enemy”. In his recent letter Benedict XVI unequivocally condemned the association. Explicitly mentioned only in a footnote (nº 36), the CPCA is treated as one of those “entities, desired by the State and extraneous to the structure of the Church,” which placed “themselves above the Bishops [. . .] to guide the life of the ecclesial community,” something which “does not correspond to Catholic doctrine.”

Similarly, the Pope refers to the CPCA when he talks about “persons who are not ‘ordained’, and sometimes not even baptized,” and who “control and take decisions concerning important ecclesial questions, including the appointment of Bishops (nº 8), and when he warns that “[c]ommunion and unity [. . .] are essential and integral elements of the Catholic Church: therefore the proposal for a Church that is ‘independent’ of the Holy See, in the religious sphere, is incompatible with Catholic doctrine” (nº 8).

The Pope’s opposition is based theologically on the notions of communion, hierarchy and Petrine primacy, which clearly contradict a statement made by the CPCA’s strongman, deputy chairman Liu Bainian, a member of the laity who in an interview with Italian daily La Repubblica claimed instead that there was “not a shadow of theological controversy” when he spoke about the relations between the CPCA and the Holy See, going as far as expressing a hope that the Pope might visit Beijing.

A “hope” which yesterday Benedict XVI would not comment.  When journalists, who are following the Pope’s period of rest among the mountains of Cadore, broached him on the subject, he limited himself to respond: “I cannot speak on the issue and the moment. The situation is quite complicated and now there is not sufficient time”.

American Papist has a round-up post


Benedict XVI’s letter to the Catholics of China was shown to the Beijing authorities ten days before its publication, at the end of June.

But “there have been no official reactions so far,” Vatican secretary of state Tarcisio Bertone said on July 18. There was only a terse message from the Chinese foreign ministry a few hours after the publication of the letter, with the ritual re-proposal to the Vatican of the two constant pre-conditions: non-interference in China’s internal affairs, and the breaking of diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

The reservation of the Chinese authorities is judged in the Vatican as “a positive reality.” It is supposed that there is a difference in viewpoints, in China, between the highest political authorities – who are aiming at greater “harmony” with the Church – and the apparatus of the communist party, which is more hostile. On June 28 and 29, on the eve of the publication of the papal letter, the United Front – an organism that works in the shadow of the communist party for the implementation of its religious politics – had gathered in Huairou, near Beijing, a good number of bishops officially recognized by the regime, in order to drum into them for the umpteenth time the doctrine that the Chinese Church must be national and independent from Rome.

This difference of viewpoints is shown especially in the appointment of bishops for the official Church, the one recognized by the government.

On July 5, the Hong Kong newspaper “Wen Wei Po,” which is close to the communist party, wrote that new official bishops will be installed within the next few months, without and against the approval of Rome, in the dioceses of Guangzhou, Guizhou, Hubei, and Ningxia.

But in the meantime, the first new bishop elected in China according to official procedures, after the publication of the pope’s letter, is that of Beijing. And the person pre-selected is such that in the Vatican the news of the appointment was taken not as an affront, but as a relief.

The new bishop-elect is Joseph Li Shan, 43, of Beijing, from a strongly Catholic family, a favorite of the faithful who had him as a pastor in the commercial neighborhood of Wangfujin: entirely the opposite of his predecessor, Michael Fu Tieshan, an adherent of the communist regime who has never reconciled with the pope. Cardinal Bertone described the new bishop-elect as “a very good and suitable person.” And he added: “The election took place according to the canons of the official Church, and now we are waiting for the bishop-elect to ask for the approval of the Holy See. We are optimists.”

The official procedures established by the communist authorities, in China, prescribe that every new bishop be designated not by Rome, but by an official assembly of priests, sisters, and laymen from the area, and that he then be confirmed by the council of Chinese bishops recognized by the regime. Ordination takes place after this. In the judgment of the Holy See such an ordination is sacramentally valid, but illicit. In order to rectify his illicit state and re-enter into communion with the Church, the new bishop must ask for and obtain the pope’s approval. In fact, almost all the official bishops present in China today have obtained this, more or less explicitly.

Adam Minter has a post at his blog, Shanghai Scrap

A Minter article from Slate about a Maryknoll program that offers training to leaders from the open Church:

Maryknoll continues to coordinate the project—which the Vatican has now explicitly approved—with oversight from Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington and Cardinal Archbishop Francis George of Chicago. Numerous U.S. Catholic orders and universities give support by contributing in various ways, including tuition subsidies at the University of Notre Dame, Catholic University, Boston College, St. John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minn., and other American Catholic institutions. Project participants have earned advanced degrees in scripture, liturgy, church history, theology, and other areas. Most important, 90 percent of those who have earned degrees have returned to China. Fifty now serve the Chinese Catholic community as teachers, academic deans, rectors, spiritual directors, retreat house directors, and bishops’ secretaries. Four have been named bishops with the blessing of the pope, and one serves as the superior to a large congregation of nuns. It is difficult to approximate or overestimate the influence of this group—odds are strong that any registered Catholic seminarian or sister undergoing training will come into contact with a project participant and his or her American education.

30 Days has an interview with Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian of Shanghai

The Union of Catholic Asia News site, a response from Cardinal Zen to an earlier commentary by a Belgian priest on the letter

In an interview with La Repubblica, the president of the CPCA says he hopes to see the Pope in Beijing.

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