Mr Anthony Liu Bainian (left) and Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian of Shanghai (below right) were named honorary presidents of both the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China during the Congress of Catholic Representatives.

BEIJING – The Chinese government-controlled National Congress of Catholic Representatives elected new leaders for the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China and the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, the two groups responsible for the public life of the Church in the communist country.

The new president of the bishops’ conference is Bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin of Kunming, who was ordained without papal approval in 2006.

However, the new president of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association is Bishop Yohan Fang Xinyao of Linyi, who was ordained in 1997 and is in communion with the pope.

Pope Benedict XVI has said organisations, which are completely independent of the Vatican, are not in line with Church doctrine. However, in a 2007 letter to Chinese Catholics, he also recognised the difficult situation of bishops and priests who often are under government pressure to cooperate.

The pope said the Vatican “leaves the decision to the individual bishop” regarding the appropriateness of cooperating in particular situations.

One source familiar with the Catholic Church in China speculated that bishops with papal approval might have made a decision to work within the government system, similar to a decision made by some of their predecessors when the Chinese government began lifting restrictions on the Church in the early 1980s.

The Congress of Catholic Representatives, which met Dec 7-9 in Beijing, was held less than three weeks after the ordination of Fr Joseph Guo Jincai as bishop of Chengde; his was the first ordination of a bishop without papal approval in four years. The Vatican said he faced Church sanctions, including possible excommunication.

At the congress, Bishop Guo was elected secretary-general of the bishops’ conference.

Mr Anthony Liu Bainian, the then-vice president, and 94-year-old Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian of Shanghai were named honorary presidents of both the patriotic association and the bishops’ conference during the Congress of Catholic Representatives.

A third bishop without papal approval – Bishop Vincent Zhan Silu of Mindong – was named one of the vice presidents of the bishops’ conference.

The recent congress met with opposition from the Holy See and resistance from many Catholics on the mainland.

Government officials kept watch on key Church personnel at the cathedral of Cangzhou (Xianxian) after Bishop Joseph Li Liangui went missing ahead of the congress.

Vicar General Fr Daniel Yang Quan’en, Chancellor Fr Joseph Yu Rusong and two other priests were taken away and questioned for information on the whereabouts of Bishop Li. They were warned that if the bishop could not be found, his family and the diocese would face trouble. n CNS, UCANEWS.COM

MANGALORE – In a show of unity, Christians are coming together to celebrate Christmas in different parts of India.

In the northeastern state of Assam, various denominations gathered for a pre-Christmas celebration on Dec 5. Twelve Churches met in Guwahati, Assam’s commercial capital, to celebrate Christmas.

They presented carols, skits and mimes.

“The celebration was meant to strengthen unity and mutual cooperation among Christians and to pray for our state,” said Reverend Michael Henry of Church of North India.

He also said Christmas is the time for Christians to share the message of peace, and for Churches to respect each other.

Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil of Guwahati, the chief guest, urged youth to work for peace in the strife-torn northeastern India.

Mangalore diocese in Karnataka in the south of the country was scheduled to celebrate the festival with people of other religions in villages from Dec 17-19. The diocesan Small Christian Communities (SCC) began preparations for Christmas celebrations in November. n UCANEWS.COM

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