Vatican Official Denounces Decision by So-Called Episcopal Conference of China

Expresses Support and Admiration for Persecuted Auxiliary Bishop of Shanghai

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By Junno Arocho

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 13, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, released a statement regarding the recent decision by the so-called Conference of Catholic Bishops of China and the Patriotic Catholic Association (PCA) to withdraw approval of Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin.

It was reported in July that Bishop Ma Daqin was detained shortly after his ordination, when he announced during his homily that he was resigning from China's state-sanctioned PCA. Chinese officials reportedly kept Bishop Ma from his episcopal ministry after the incident. 

Archbishop Hon affirmed that episcopal conferences do not have the authority to appoint, approve or deny a mandate, nor do they have the power to impose sanctions against a prelate, much less an episcopal conference that is not recognized by the Holy See.

"Bishop Ma Daqin remains in his office as Auxiliary Bishop of Shanghai. The measure in question, in terms of the Church, therefore has no legal value whatsoever; it also creates an unnecessary division in the country," Archbishop Hon stated.

The Hong Kong prelate praised Bishop Ma Daqin's fidelity to the Roman Catholic Church while recognizing his "sincere love for his country." The secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples also stated that many Catholics have expressed their regret to his office over the abuse committed by the PCA and the Chinese Episcopal Conference.

"This injustice is all the more painful because it makes an attempt on communion and discipline of the Catholic Church precisely in the Year of Faith," he said.

Archbishop Hon concluded his statement inviting all Catholics to pray not only for Bishop Ma Daqin, but as well for those who are living in similar situations in China.