The local government has concluded its investigation into the ordination of a bishop who simultaneously quit the government-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA), sources said today.
But so far Beijing has not issued any statement on Auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin of Shanghai, who has allegedly been restricted from exercising his episcopal ministry since the incident on July 7.
The 45-year-old bishop is reportedly in confinement at Sheshan Seminary, in the outskirts of Shanghai, although his blog was updated twice this week since his disappearance, immediately following his ordination.
Government officials questioned more than 100 diocesan priests and nuns who were absent from the ordination about their reasons for not attending and their opinions on the ordination and Bishop Ma’s speech, sources said. Repeated interviews with several priests who officiated at the ceremony ended last weekend.
The Holy See appointed Bishop Ma as auxiliary bishop but the Chinese government only recognized him as a “coadjutor.”
A diocesan priest of Shanghai, who asked for anonymity, said Bishop Ma has to stay in the seminary indefinitely. He quoted officials as saying the prelate’s return “depends on his performance and the Catholics’ reaction.”
The CCPA and Bishops’ Conference of the Church in China (BCCCC) have said the ordination “allegedly seriously violated the BCCCC’s regulations.” Bishop Ma is the first “open” bishop in recent years to publicly announce during an episcopal ordination his intention to give up his offices in the CPA.
A prayer of Saint Joseph in classical Chinese, translated by Portuguese Father Emmanuel Diaz (1574-1659), a Jesuit missioner to China in the 17th century, was posted yesterday in another update to Bishop Ma’s blog.
A footnote said Bishop Ma was happy to find this ancient prayer, which stuck to the biblical verses. Comparing it with the currently-used version of the prayer, the post said, “The faithful may consider whichever they want for individual praying.”
Updates to the blog comforts those concerned about the bishop, who is well-versed in Chinese literature, sources said. But a few comments left below Thursday’s post questioned whether it was published by the bishop or by someone else.
The first post since his disappearance was Monday, when five poems of Father Simon Xaverius Wu Yushan (1632-1718), were uploaded. Wu was one of China’s first native priests. The picture was signed with the name “Thaddy Ma” in English.
After Bishop Ma’s ordination, the title of his blog was changed from “Notes of a Shanghai Priest” to “Notes of Shanghai’s Least Servant,” a typical way for a bishop to refer to himself.