Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bishop of Shanghai, under house arrest, prays for Mandela and recalls his fight for freedom

Auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Ma, in his weibo (microblog) message the morning of Dec. 6, mourns the first black president of South Africa Nelson Mandela and cites Mandela's quotations that call for freedom, faith and justice.

Bishop Ma usually issues spiritual or biblical reflections through his microblog ( in the mornings and evenings, even though his blog remains stagnant since his reflection article on Pope Francis' Lumen Fidei was blocked since mid-October.

Bishop Ma cited three quotations of Mandela, the first black president of South Africa who died on Dec. 5. 

The first one says: "Freedom is indivisible; the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them, the chains on all of my people were the chains on me." (自由是看不见摸不着的,我的人民任何一人身戴枷锁就等于所有人身戴枷锁,也就等于我也身戴枷) It was taken from Mandela's book Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela with Connections.

The second one Bishop Ma cited reads: "Faith sometimes undergoes painful tests, but I will not give in to pessimism." (信仰一时经受痛苦考验,但我不会向悲观低头) 

The third one is: "Both the oppressors and the oppressed need liberation. The ones who take away others' freedom are prisoners of hatred. They are locked behind bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness."(压迫者和被压迫者一样需要获得解放。夺走别人自由的人是仇恨的囚徒,他被偏见和短视的铁栅囚禁着。)

Bishop Ma called for prayer at the end of the message, "Let's pray for the late Mandela!" 

Mandela spent 27 years in prison because of his struggles for justice.

The quotations also seemed to describe Bishop Ma's present situation. He has been under house arrest at Sheshan seminary, Shanghai, right after his episcopal ordination on July 7, 2012. 

He was occasionally given limited freedom of movement. 

His appointment as bishop was revoked by the Chinese authorities in December 2012. 

However, the Catholics in Shanghai and the universal Church recognize him a bishop of Shanghai. 

On Dec 2, Bishop Ma turned 45. His faithful wrote in his microblog birthday wishes and addressed him "Most respectable bishop" (主教大人).

Earlier on Nov. 24, some Catholics wished Bishop Ma happiness on the Feast of Christ the King, and proclaimed "Christ conquers, He reigns and He commands" on his microblog.

A Catholic in Shanghai told AsiaNews: "We are praying earnestly for the freedom of Bishop Ma everyday. We hope he will keep himself in good spirit despite all the difficulties. We pray that he will be freed soon and can exercise his episcopal authority. Our Shanghai diocese needs his leadership."

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