Shanghai bishop funeral held amid successor crisisFuneral services were held Thursday for Shanghai Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian, while the whereabouts of his anointed successor remained unclear amid a struggle for control between the Vatican and the ruling Communist Party.
Jin died Saturday at age 96, leaving deep uncertainty about the future leadership of one of China's largest and wealthiest dioceses.
His successor, Thaddeus Ma Daqin, was placed under house arrest last year immediately after he renounced his role in the Communist Party-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association. Ma had been confined to Shanghai's main seminary at Sheshan, but reportedly was moved recently to an undisclosed location.
The officially atheist Communist Party insists on tightly controlling all organized religions. It requires that Catholics worship in churches that belong to the Patriotic Association and demands the right to appoint bishops in defiance of the Vatican. Despite that, Ma had been approved by both the Vatican and Beijing, making his public renunciation of the Patriotic Association at his July 7 ordination Mass a grave affront to the party.
After Ma renounced the Patriotic Association, it stripped him of his title as "coadjutor," or acting, bishop but the Vatican refused to recognize the move and has continued to view Ma as Shanghai's auxiliary bishop.
Jin had been criticized by some for cooperating with Mao's successors in reviving the church in Shanghai, but later reconciled with the Vatican and worked to heal divisions between Catholics who worship in the state church and those who do so in underground congregations.
China has an estimated 8 million to 12 million Catholics. Despite official requirements, around half worship in congregations outside the control of the Patriotic Association.
Michael Voris sometimes refers to some members of the Church's U.S. hierarchy as the American Patriotic Church, which is always worth a chuckle. And yet it is a prospect that is not impossible to envision-- an actual, schismatic Patriotic Church that allows gay marriage and adoption, allows contraception, and so on. Though it seems as though there would at least be clarity about exactly which one was Catholic, over time, the situation in China has become a confusing one for Chinese Catholics who suffered in the underground Church as Rome made repeated attempts to reconcile the Party-friendly regime. Some repent, some apostasize, some recant-- and confusion reigns.
If a government with the philosophical program of Mao, the morality of a folding chair, and the intellectual force of a runaway cotton ball decides to finally clamp down on those annoying Catholics, you can be sure they will have plenty of Patriotic Catholics to support them.
May Mary avert such a disaster, though we of course don't deserve her effort.
Did I mention this Saturday is First Saturday?