- (Photo: AP/Pier Paolo Citoi)
A Chinese bishop reportedly has been placed in isolation after publicly quitting a state-sanctioned Catholic Church organization in a suspected act of defiance against China's control over the local Catholic religion.
Shanghai's auxiliary Bishop Ma Daqin reportedly was transferred to Shanghai's Sheshan seminary shortly after he announced his resignation at his ordination Mass on Saturday, July 7.
At the Mass of over 1,200 attendees, Daqin announced his resignation from the Catholic Patriotic Association to focus more on his ministry. The Catholic Patriotic Association is a government-run church organization that is not recognized by the Vatican.
"With this ordination, I will be devoting my heart and soul to the episcopal ministry and to evangelism. Hence, there are some positions that will be inconvenient for me to hold on to. From today's ordination onwards, I will no longer be a member of the CPA," he announced, according to The Shanghaiist.
Daqin is one of the few bishops in China recognized by both the Vatican and his home government.
Multiple news sources, including The Associated Press, UCA News, and AsiaNews, speculate that his choice to sever ties with the Catholic Patriotic Association has upset government officials, who believe Chinese Catholics should elect their bishop, instead of the pope. The government, instead of the Vatican, has always insisted on having the final word in local Catholic affairs, as it does with other faiths in the country.
Daqin was next in line to take over responsibilities as head bishop of the Shanghai diocese after current Bishop Jin Luxian, 96, dies or retires.
UCA News is reporting that shortly after exiting the church with Catholic officials on Saturday, Daqin sent a text message to clergy which read: "I need a break and have made a personal retreat. With the consent of Bishop Jin [Luxian], I am at the site of Our Lady of Sheshan."
Some contend that Daqin's act of defiance represents loyalty to the Roman Catholic Church and Pope Benedcit XVI.
"It is painful, but is good for the conscience of the Church in China. His witness is an encouragement for our Catholics, so we can only pray for him," a Shanghai priest told UCANews.
Others find Daqin's act of defiance unnecessarily controversial.
"He was applauded by the congregation for renouncing the patriotic association, but Rome certainly didn't ask him to do that. There are plenty of bishops who are loyal to the Pope but still members of China's state-backed church. We are all asking ourselves why so public? Why so aggressive?" A senior Catholic source told The Australian.
The government-run Catholic authorities have yet to publish an official report on Daqin's ordination as auxiliary bishop, leading some to believe he may be permanently removed from his new post.