A Shanghai bishop ordained by the Vatican, who recently quit the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) state-run Catholic Church, vanished after publicly renouncing his official position, reported a Hong Kong newspaper and a Catholic news service on Monday.
Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin on Saturday said he was leaving the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CCPA), which was created in the 1950s by the CCP and selects its own bishops without approval of the Vatican.
Ma was ordained by the Vatican on July 7 with the approval of Pope Benedict XVI and the Chinese regime, but in his acceptance speech at the ordination ceremony he told the congregation of more than 1,200 people that he will not hold a position in the state-run CCPA, reported the Hong Kong-based Standard newspaper.
In his speech, Ma said that it “is inconvenient for me to take on certain responsibilities,” according to AsiaNews, a Catholic-run website. “Therefore, from this day of consecration, it will no longer be convenient to be a member of the Patriotic Association,” he said.
AsiaNews said his speech was met with a “warm applause” with many participants “moved to tears” afterward.
He did not show up for Sunday mass at St. Ignatius Cathedral in Shanghai, leading to questions over his current whereabouts, which are not known.
Sources told the Standard that local Chinese church officials were not pleased with Ma’s public renouncement of his official position.
These officials “looked very serious when walking out of the cathedral,” stated the newspaper, which also quoted sources saying that Ma has some freedom of movement but cannot exercise his non-state sanctioned ministry.
Ma has been “resting” in the Sheshan Seminary since Sunday, the website states, citing sources.
Anthony Lam Sui-ki, a senior researcher at the Hong Kong diocese’s Holy Spirit Study Centre, told the Standard that the Chinese regime has openly attacked the church several times.
After seizing power in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party embarked on a path to destroy religion and has broken up congregations and destroyed religious buildings—including Buddhist temples and Catholic churches—throughout its reign.
Many Chinese Catholics who have declared their allegiance to Rome are forced to go to “clandestine” or “underground” churches which are deemed illegal by the Chinese regime and can be targeted by communist authorities.
A year ago on Monday, four bishops recognized by the Vatican were arrested because they refused to participate in the ordination of a priest in the CCPA in Guangdong Province.
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