A bishop who was demoted to auxiliary bishop at the request of Pope Francis, to make way for a previously excommunicated bishop, has gone into hiding after refusing to join the Catholic Patriotic Association, the body approved by the Communist Party.
Auxiliary Bishop Vincenzo Guo Xijin of Mindong was asked by the Pope to vacate the episcopal seat to make way for Zhan Silu. The Patriotic Church loyalist is now recognised by the Vatican and Beijing as Bishop of Mindong.
Bishop Guo, 61, reportedly went into hiding two weeks ago after refusing to register with the communist-approved association. He left Zhan’s residence and is believed, according to Asia News, to have returned to his home town of Luojiang where the authorities are trying to track him down.
Jinping’s interpretation of that deal has been to make joining the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association a condition for Catholics in China to continue practising their faith and to pursue a crackdown on the underground Church which always declared its first religious loyalty to Rome.
Meanwhile Hong Kong’s opposition pro-democracy movement saw a landslide win in the Chinese territory’s district council elections last weekend. Pro-democracy politicians took control of nearly all of the city’s 18 district councils in what protesters hope will be a strong message to the Chinese government after five months of unrest and anti-Beijing protests.
The turnout was high. Cardinal Joseph Zen, Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong said, “voting is the responsibility of everyone, and the responsibility of every Catholic”.
Catholic leaders in Hong Kong were involved in recent initiatives to calm the crisis at the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University where pro-democracy protesters were besieged by police in some of the worst violence seen since protests began in June. Auxiliary Hong Kong Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing, with a group of lawmakers, attempted talking with police but was unsuccessful. A petition circulating among Catholics in Hong Kong sought the intervention of Pope Francis.
Cardinal Zen made a video speech saying that if respect for humanity is lost then Hong Kong will become a “barbaric society” in the eyes of the international community.