A newly ordained Chinese bishop has been placed in isolation after announcing he’s quitting his government posts in a challenge to Beijing’s control over the Catholic clergy, a Hong Kong church activist and Catholic Web sites said yesterday.
Shanghai’s auxiliary Bishop Ma Daqin (馬達欽) was taken away shortly after announcing his resignation toward the end of his ordination Mass on Saturday, Holy Spirit Study Center researcher Anthony Lam (林瑞琪) said.
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 Web sites 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 Chinese Communist Party-controlled body that oversees the Chinese church, to focus on ministry.
The Vatican does not recognize the Catholic Patriotic Association. Calls to the Shanghai diocese rang unanswered yesterday and the association did not immediately respond to faxed questions.
Beijing and the Vatican have sparred most heatedly over the ordination of bishops, with China insisting they be selected by Chinese Catholics in a process ultimately controlled by the party. The Holy See says only the Pope has the right to appoint bishops.
Ma had received both Vatican and Chinese approval, a factor that may have contributed to the officials’ angry response.