Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Chinese official emphasizes importance of ‘independent and self-governing church’

The 365-member National Assembly of Catholic Representatives began three days of meetings in Beijing on December 27. 

The Assembly will select leaders of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) and the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China.

The CCPA is the body through which the Communist government seeks to control Catholic religious activity. 

The bishops’ conference is not recognized by the Holy See; its members, all of whom are recognized by the government, include bishops also recognized by the Holy See and bishops not recognized by the Holy See.

The members of the Assembly include 59 bishops, 164 priests, 30 nuns, and 112 lay faithful, according to UCA News. 

In 2010, the Vatican instructed Chinese bishops not to participate in the last meeting of the Assembly, though some were compelled to do so. This year, the Holy See has allowed bishops to take part in the gathering.

Bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin, an excommunicated prelate who is the president of the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China, spoke about “the independent principle,” a reference to independence from the Holy See.

Wang Zuoan, the director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs—which oversees the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association—took up the same theme, telling the Assembly that the “China Catholic Church has adhered to the path of an independent and self-governing church, formulated theology and cultivated church personnel who love the country and church,” according to UCA News.

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