"Patriotic Association" Reportedly Reasserting Control

ROME, OCT. 10, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association launched a nationwide campaign to reassert control over the official Catholic Church, now «considered too close to Rome,» says AsiaNews.

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The Chinese government allows religious practice only with personnel approved by, and places registered with, the Religious Affairs Office, and under the control of the Patriotic Association.

Thus there is a difference between the «official» state-approved Church and the faithful who wish to obey the Pope directly as members of the «underground» Church.

Sources of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, which oversees AsiaNews, confirmed that the Patriotic Association’s general secretary, Liu Bainian, organized meetings with priests in dioceses in Sichuan and Guangdong in order to remind them that they owe allegiance to China and not to the Vatican, especially when it comes to choosing candidates for the episcopate.

Sources said that part of this campaign was the Patriotic Association’s decision to bar four bishops invited by Benedict XVI to attend the current Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist.

The places of the four Chinese bishops remain empty at the synod, and their electronic votes always appear as not having been cast, said Isidro Catela, a spokesman of the synodal assembly.

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