Chinese priests and nuns forced into government “study classes”

The UK’s best Catholic weekly, The Catholic Herald, has a piece online which gives a glimpse of the Church in the USA during Pres. Obama’s third term.   Obama would probably love to have, I am sure, an American Patriotic Catholic Association much along the lines of what Catholics in China now enjoy.

Pesky ol’ Catholic Church, daring to raise a voice in the public square!  They need closer oversight!

Let’s have a look at The Catholic Herald report:

Priests and nuns in the Shanghai diocese have been forced to attend compulsory “study classes”, which observers believe were imposed by Chinese authorities in response to the new Shanghai auxiliary’s renunciation of the Catholic Patriotic Association.

In September, approximately 80 diocesan priests and 80 nuns of the Our Lady of Presentation Congregation were divided into three groups to take three days of classes at the Shanghai Institute of Socialism, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News. Classes lasted 12 hours each day and included university professors lecturing about strengthening the sense of duty toward China, the law, and the independent Church principle, UCA News reported.

The main subjects included state-religion relations, the Communist Party’s religious concepts, policies and regulations, the socialist core value system and economic development in China, it said.

A priest who asked that his name not be used told UCA News that all priests and nuns obeyed directives given by the diocese, so the classes ran smoothly. Religious officials at the city and district levels sat in throughout the classes, he said.

Auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin, 45, quit the government-approved Catholic Patriotic Association at his ordination in July. Since then, he has been in “retreat” at the Sheshan seminary with a “certain degree of freedom”, sources told UCA News.

The priest told UCA News that he thought government officials would criticise Bishop Ma’s episcopal ordination during the classes, but they did not.

“Anyhow, it is understood that the so-called study classes were to counter the ordination,” the priest said.

“The classes were very strict. No one was allowed to miss them. We had to take an exam on religious regulations and policies and write an account on what we learned at the end,” he said.

Other Church sources told UCA News they believed that the Shanghai government organised the study classes for a variety of reasons: brainwashing priests and nuns, venting officials’ anger, and doing something to appease Chinese officials at the national level.

In late August, the diocese suspended the autumn term at its major and minor seminaries.

Bishop Ma is the first government-approved bishop in recent years to announce publicly that he would give up his duties with the Catholic Patriotic Association, UCA News reported.

Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 letter to Catholics in China stated that the aim of the patriotic association in upholding the independence of the Church in China was incompatible with Catholic doctrine. However, in his letter, the Pope also recognised the difficult situation of bishops and priests under pressure from the government and said the Holy See “leaves the decision to the individual bishop”, having consulted his priests, “to weigh … and to evaluate the possible consequences” of dealing with government pressures in each given situation.


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  1. Bob B. says:

    Recent Church administrations (with the Jesuits, Maryknollers, etc) have helped to create this situation in China. Not since Pius XII and his encyclicals (Ad Apostolorum Principis (Communism and the Church in China) June 29, 1958 and Ad Sinarum Gentem (On the Supranationality of the Church) October 7, 1954) has there been a cohexive policy towards the communist government in China. It was Pius’ steadfastness against the communists and the loyalty of the underground Catholic Church (in communion with the Church) that has kept the true Faith alive in China.

  2. I hope no one gives this information to Chairman Obama; he has enough of his own ideas.

  3. eulogos says:

    It must be awful to be those priests, and have to go to these classes and appear to be compliant without betraying the faith. I know from the blog Ambrosarama that there are devout Catholics in the aboveground church. As a foreigner she attends, since she is raising her children in China and couldn’t raise them without bringing them to church, yet it is impossible for foreigners to attend the underground church (if they showed, everyone would leave, as she thinks happened to her once by accident) since the presence of a foreigner would bring too much attention. She posts pictures of the services and tells what they sing, what the prayers are. It is clear that these people are part of the church and would like to be united with the universal church, while still being able to live in China.

    What a courageous act for this bishop, though. What will happen now for his diocese? It sounds as if having resigned, he is being left alone, but with no role. He needs our prayers. The Church in China needs our prayers.
    Susan Peterson

  4. CharlesG says:

    Before brave Bishop Ma, there was another auxilary bishop of the aboveground diocese of Shanghai (but also approved by the Holy See), Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Xing Wenzhi of Shanghai, who has basically “disappeared”. According to the UCA report linked to below, his sin against the ruling party was that at the Eighth National Congress of Catholic Representatives (basically a joint meeting of the Patriotic Association and the Bishop’s Conference), which was held against the wishes of the Vatican in December 2010, Xing attended but did not wear the bishop’s soutane, did not put on his zucchetto and did not show any supportive stance to the congress.

  5. matt fong says:

    There is an excellent book by Paul Mariani at the University of Santa Clara (a Jesuit run university) titled Church Militant: Bishop Kung and Catholic Resistance in Communist Shanghai. The first chapter alone was enough to bring me to tears as I read the book on my way over to Shanghai. I very much have a soft spot for my ancestral homeland, but the Communists have left the country a moral disaster. I visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Sheshan on my last business trip to Shanghai, and I even stopped into the Sheshan seminary mentioned in the article. But I was too afraid to ask about the status of Bishop Ma. Please pray for China!

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