Vatican following case of Chinese Bishop Ma, spokesman says


By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican said it has had no direct
contact with Auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin of Shanghai, who apparently wrote
a blog post in June that gave many people the impression he had recanted an
earlier decision to abandon the Chinese government’s Catholic Patriotic

At his episcopal ordination in 2012 — an assignment that
came unusually with the approval of both then-Pope Benedict XVI and the Chinese
government — Bishop Ma said he would no longer hold any position in the
Catholic Patriot Association so that he could focus on pastoral work and
evangelization. He was immediately placed under house arrest at Sheshan
Seminary and the government rescinded his appointment.

Paying homage to the late Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian of
Shanghai in a blog attributed to Bishop Ma June 12, he said cooperation with
the patriotic association was one of the reasons why Bishop Jin was so
successful in his ministry.

With Bishop Ma under house arrest, the Diocese of Shanghai
has been without a bishop since Bishop Jin died in 2014 at the age of 96.

Bishop Ma — if he wrote the blog — said it may have been
unwise to renounce all ties with the government-run association. The decision,
the blog said, was influenced by “outside pressure” and the bishop
has been struggling in conscience ever since.

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, retired bishop of Hong Kong, in
a blog post June 22, reportedly called on the Vatican to “clarify and give
guidance” in the wake of the news about Bishop Ma. With Catholics confused
about cooperating with the government’s control of the church, “not saying
anything is irresponsible,” the cardinal said, according to the Hong Kong
Free Press.

In response to questions, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi
said June 23 that all the information the Vatican has was obtained
from Bishop Ma’s blog and press reports. “No direct information is
currently available,” he said.

“The personal and ecclesial life of Msgr. Ma Daqin,
like that of all Chinese Catholics, is followed with particular care and
concern by the Holy Father, who remembers them daily in prayer,” Father
Lombardi said.

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