Posted: Jul 10, 2012 1:22 AM
Updated: Jul 10, 2012 1:22 AM
BEIJING (AP) A newly ordained Chinese bishop has been placed in isolation after announcing he's quitting his government posts in a challenge to Beijing's control over the Catholic clergy, a Hong Kong church activist and Catholic websites said Tuesday.
Shanghai's auxiliary Bishop Ma Daqin was taken away shortly after announcing his resignation toward the end of his ordination Mass on Saturday, Holy Spirit Study Center researcher Anthony Lam said.
Ma did not return for Mass on Sunday and was being confined at Shanghai's Sheshan seminary without contact with others, according to Lam and the websites AsiaNews and UCAnews. They said the move most likely was ordered by local officials assigned to supervise religious life.
"Local officials overreacted and now they've created a crisis for Beijing and for Shanghai," Lam said in a telephone interview.
In his announcement in front of hundreds of worshippers, Ma, 44, said he was stepping down from the Catholic Patriotic Association, the ruling Communist Party-controlled body that oversees the Chinese church, to focus on ministry. The Vatican does not recognize the Catholic Patriotic Association, and the body's existence is a major form of friction between Beijing and the Holy See, who have no formal relations.
Calls to the Shanghai diocese rang unanswered Tuesday and the CPA did not immediately respond to faxed questions.
Beijing and the Vatican have sparred most heatedly over the ordination of bishops, with China insisting they be selected by Chinese Catholics in a process ultimately controlled by the Communist Party. The Holy See says only the Pope has the right to appoint Bishops and considers those ordained in China without its approval to be illegitimate.
As happens in some cases, Ma had received both Vatican and Chinese approval, a factor that may have contributed to the officials' angry response to his defiant announcement. As auxiliary bishop, he would be in line to become bishop after the aged leader of the Shanghai diocese, Jin Luxian, dies or retires.
Ma's circumstances contrasted with the ordination Friday of the new bishop of the northern city of Harbin, who was not approved by the pope and faced automatic excommunication.