Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-fai, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, said the government-sanctioned Chinese bishops’ conference has no power to revoke Shanghai Auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Ma’s appointment. Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-fai, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, said the government-sanctioned Chinese bishops’ conference has no power to revoke Shanghai Auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Ma’s appointment.SHANGHAI, CHINA – A Vatican official has sharply criticised the revocation of a China bishop’s appointment by the government-sanctioned bishops’ conference, saying that it “lacks any juridical value”.

In a statement released at the Vatican on Dec 13, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, said even legitimately established and Vatican-recognised bishops’ conferences “do not have the power to name or approve a bishop, to revoke his mandate or to impose sanctions on him”.

The Chinese bishops’ conference, which is not recognised by the Vatican, has even less power to revoke Shanghai Auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin’s appointment, he said.

According to the Asian Church news agency ucanews.com, the bishops’ conference said the bishop violated their rules for episcopal ordinations.

Mr Joseph Liu Yuanlong, a vice chair of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, confirmed on Dec 12 that the association and the bishops’ conference decided to revoke Bishop Ma’s approval letter as “coadjutor” bishop and dismiss him from all posts in the association and conference.

They also called on the Shanghai diocese to “deal with Ma in a serious manner”, he said.

At his ordination on July 7, the Vatican-approved bishop became the first to publicly quit the patriotic association, saying he wanted to devote himself to his ministry. Since then, Bishop Ma has been in “retreat” at the Sheshan Regional Seminary in a Shanghai suburb.

The patriotic association, which is not approved by the Vatican, and the bishops’ conference accused Bishop Ma of deliberately preventing an illegitimate bishop and two other participating bishops from laying hands on his head during his ordination and forbidding them from receiving Communion, sources told ucanews.com.

“They also charged him with not publicly distinguishing whether he is coadjutor or auxiliary bishop, a title given by the pope,” and said his oath “was incomplete as a result of deliberate damage to the sound system”, sources said.

They also said the declaration he made in his thanksgiving speech would have a damaging influence on others, sources said.

In his statement, Archbishop Savio Hon said Bishop Ma “acted with laudatory fidelity to the Church and professed his sincere love for his country”.

Catholics from around the world have written to the Vatican “to demonstrate their sadness over the abuse committed by the so-called bishops’ conference . . . of China and by the patriotic association”, he said.

“That abuse is even more painful because it attacks the communion and discipline of the Catholic Church precisely during the Year of Faith,” he added.

According to sources, Bishop Ma can meet people and update his blog occasionally during his “retreat”, reported ucanews.com.

However, he has not been allowed to concelebrate with other priests at the seminary since Dec 4, sources said. - CNS

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