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Shanghai’s priests and nuns forced to attend government classes

By on Friday, 5 October 2012

Members of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart pray in their motherhouse chapel in Fushun, China (Photo: CNS)

Members of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart pray in their motherhouse chapel in Fushun, China (Photo: CNS)

Priests and nuns in the Shanghai diocese have been forced to attend compulsory “study classes”, which observers believe were imposed by Chinese authorities in response to the new Shanghai auxiliary’s renunciation of the Catholic Patriotic Association.

In September, approximately 80 diocesan priests and 80 nuns of the Our Lady of Presentation Congregation were divided into three groups to take three days of classes at the Shanghai Institute of Socialism, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News. Classes lasted 12 hours each day and included university professors lecturing about strengthening the sense of duty toward China, the law, and the independent Church principle, UCA News reported.

The main subjects included state-religion relations, the Communist Party’s religious concepts, policies and regulations, the socialist core value system and economic development in China, it said.

A priest who asked that his name not be used told UCA News that all priests and nuns obeyed directives given by the diocese, so the classes ran smoothly. Religious officials at the city and district levels sat in throughout the classes, he said.

Auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin, 45, quit the government-approved Catholic Patriotic Association at his ordination in July. Since then, he has been in “retreat” at the Sheshan seminary with a “certain degree of freedom”, sources told UCA News.

The priest told UCA News that he thought government officials would criticise Bishop Ma’s episcopal ordination during the classes, but they did not.

“Anyhow, it is understood that the so-called study classes were to counter the ordination,” the priest said.

“The classes were very strict. No one was allowed to miss them. We had to take an exam on religious regulations and policies and write an account on what we learned at the end,” he said.

Other Church sources told UCA News they believed that the Shanghai government organised the study classes for a variety of reasons: brainwashing priests and nuns, venting officials’ anger, and doing something to appease Chinese officials at the national level.

In late August, the diocese suspended the autumn term at its major and minor seminaries.

Bishop Ma is the first government-approved bishop in recent years to announce publicly that he would give up his duties with the Catholic Patriotic Association, UCA News reported.

Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 letter to Catholics in China stated that the aim of the patriotic association in upholding the independence of the Church in China was incompatible with Catholic doctrine. However, in his letter, the Pope also recognised the difficult situation of bishops and priests under pressure from the government and said the Holy See “leaves the decision to the individual bishop”, having consulted his priests, “to weigh … and to evaluate the possible consequences” of dealing with government pressures in each given situation.

  • JabbaPapa

    This Communistic régime in China will collapse — the Church in China will not.

    May the Holy Virgin strengthen the hearts and souls of these Faithful under this oppression.

  • Cjkeeffe

    I wonder if David Cameron will speak against this violation of christians human rights in china – prob not!

  • Benedict Carter

    Agreed Jabba. 

  • Hermit

      Christ infallibly announced his support to his One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church up to the end of time. There is no such guarantee for the China Communist goverrnment.

      The Roman emperors persecuted the Church for 300 years. In the end the Roman empire came to an end and the Catholic Church grew and occupied the very centre of the Roman emperors.

      What we need is to pray, to do penance, to do God’s will to please him and to trust in him. He knows how to do things more than us. His ways are not ours.

      God wanted Joseph, the son of Jacob, to be the vice-king of Egypt, but first God permitted him to be placed in a empty well. 

      God knows how to write straight on crooked lines.  

  • Jack Hughes

    How can communists think they will prevail over the Church, in my minds eye I see the legions of Rome, the jackboots of the SS, the regiments of Bismark, the soldiers of the Callas regieme, the spanish socialists and lenins lackeys as they dance their way into the ashes of history,  The Church Has endured and WILL endure to the End when these miscillanious marxest midgets have long been forgotten

  • Mieczyslaw the Meerkat

    Do the Chinese Communists really think this will work?

    More fool them. 

    It will make the priests and nuns resolve and their faith in God stronger than ever.

    Our Lady of Fatima, pray for them.

  • Joshuatree

    Their martyrdom is inspiring. We should all be learning from this. Communism is dead. The Church is alive. A wave of freedom of speech is washing over China and it cannot be stopped. Rough times ahead for everyone in China. Let’s pray for our Catholic family in China.

  • Fides_et_Ratio

     Marxism is an ideology of hate.