Tuesday, December 7, 2010

China to choose Catholic heads; Vatican ties tense

BEIJING (AP) — China's bishops opened a meeting Tuesday to choose leaders of the government-backed Catholic church amid tensions with the Vatican after it denounced the recent ordination of a bishop who did not have the pope's approval.
The meeting in Beijing to elect new heads of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and the Council of Chinese Bishops will be another source of friction because the Vatican disapproves of such assemblies, saying both organizations run counter to Catholic doctrine.
If clerics more interested in shoring up Communist Party control are elected into top positions, it will likely hinder the tentative efforts at outreach made by Pope Benedict XVI.
Chinese authorities also are pressuring some bishops to attend the Beijing meeting, a Vatican-affiliated agency said.
Ties between China and the Vatican already were strained because of a dispute over the Nov. 20 ordination of Rev. Joseph Guo Jincai as bishop. The Vatican also slammed Chinese authorities for forcing Vatican-approved bishops to attend that ordination ceremony.
Communist China forced its Roman Catholics to cut ties with the Vatican in 1951, and worship is allowed only in state-backed churches, although millions of Chinese belong to unofficial congregations loyal to Rome.
The National Congress of Chinese Catholic Representatives runs until Thursday and will be attended by bishops, priests and believers, said Liu Bainian, vice chairman of the Patriotic Association, which supervises the Catholic church, including overseeing the appointment of all of China's bishops.
"It's just an election of a new round of leadership, like the election of the leadership of the National People's Congress," Liu said, referring to the country's rubberstamp legislature. He declined further comment.
The Patriotic Association has for years been a stumbling block to formal ties between the Holy See and Beijing. Run by hard-liners, it does Beijing's bidding, not the Vatican's.
The last chairman of the Patriotic Association, Bishop Fu Tieshan, was a hard-liner who clashed with Rome over Beijing's right to independently appoint bishops without papal approval and the Vatican's diplomatic ties with Taiwan, which China claims as its territory.
Ahead of the conclave, Chinese police sought out at least two bishops in an effort to ensure their attendance, according to AsiaNews, a Vatican-affiliated missionary news agency that closely covers the church in China.
Monsignor Feng Xinmao, bishop of Hengshui, a city in Hebei, was removed from his official residence despite efforts by parishioners and priests to hold back officers, AsiaNews said. He was then taken to an isolated location outside the city southwest of Beijing, it said.
Separately, the bishop of Hebei's Cangzhou city, Monsignor Li Lianggui, had gone into hiding, leading police to say they may issue a nationwide arrest warrant, AsiaNews said.
The meeting has been put off a few times in recent years, perhaps due to the Vatican's objections, said Anthony Lam, a researcher at the church-affiliated Holy Spirit Study Center in Hong Kong. "They know they cannot postpone it forever, so they are trying to do it now as a low-key event," he said.
The two organizations' top positions have been vacant since Bishop Fu's death in 2007. He was head of the Patriotic Association from 1998 and served as acting head of the Bishops' Conference for about two years. Fu's simultaneous control of both bodies underscored the government's tight grip on the official church.
Lam said that despite the recent setback, Beijing still wants to normalize ties with the Vatican.
"For them, a harmonious situation is one of the most important things now in China and so if they can give certain degree of freedom to the church people in return for their loyalty, they would like to do that," Lam said.
Calls to police, government religious affairs bureaus, and Catholic churches in Hengshui and Cangzhou either rang unanswered or were answered by people who said they either had no information or were not authorized to comment. Staff at the Patriotic Association in Beijing said they could not receive telephoned inquiries and Vice Chairman Liu's mobile phone was shut off.
The meeting also comes as about 100 Catholic students at a seminary in Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei, ended a two-week strike over the appointment of a government official as vice rector of the school, the Bangkok-based Union of Catholic Asian News said. Provincial authorities withdrew the appointment, prompting students to return to classes.
In recent years under Benedict, China-Vatican relations have improved and Benedict has said that restoring diplomatic relations with Beijing is a priority. Disputes over appointments in China's official church have been avoided by quietly conferring on candidates, leading to several ordinations of bishops with the Holy See's blessing.
The ordination of Rev. Guo was the first without papal approval in almost five years, and the Holy See had warned reconciliation efforts would be set back if bishops were forced to attend.
The Vatican blasted the government for allowing the Patriotic Association, and in particular vice chairman Liu, "to adopt attitudes that gravely damage the Catholic Church."

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The Apostle, St. John tells us exactly how to recognize the spirit of truth from the spirit of falsehood. He says "as for them, they are of the world - and the world listens to them because they speak the language of the world. But we are children of God and those who know God: LISTEN TO US. Those who are not of God REFUSE TO LISTEN TO US. That is how we can tell the spirit of truth from the spirit of falsehood." ~1 John 4:6 [The "us" to whom St. John refers are the Apostles, and their successors the Bishops.]

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Prayer to avoid the Sin of PRIDE:
“Oh My Jesus help me to avoid the sin of pride when I speak in Your Name. Forgive me if I ever belittle anyone in Your holy Name. Help me to listen Jesus when Your Voice is spoken and fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that I can discern the truth of Your Word when You call out to mankind. Amen.”

A prayer of St. Teresa of Avila:
O my God! Source of all mercy! I acknowledge Your sovereign power. While recalling the wasted years that are past, I believe that You, Lord, can in an instant turn this loss to gain. Miserable as I am, yet I firmly believe that You can do all things. Please restore to me the time lost, giving me Your grace, both now and in the future, that I may appear before You in "wedding garments." Amen.

“My children, let your speech be chosen with great care—it must be a light in the world. Know and believe that all you say has repercussions in time and eternity. Therefore, choose your words with wisdom and prudence, choosing to remain silent rather than fill the air with useless chatter or worse, gossip or virulent speech. Let your speech be a perfect mirror of your peaceful heart, a heart firmly grounded in the love of God and in complete trust in His goodness. Silence is often the more virtuous path. Bridle your tongue and you will be working for peace in the world.”

In the Name of Jesus I renounce as lies all thoughts that enter my mind from the evil one who accuses. By the authority of Jesus, I command them to leave me. I consecrate my mind to God for transformation into His Thoughts for my protection, salvation and His glory.



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Through the grace of God and many prayers, I survived a double surgery (with cancer) in the fall of 2008. Since then has becoming increasingly important to me to enhance my prayer life. I have taken on the task of praying for strangers and those with little hope and much adversity. To that end, I've also begun (July '09), to make rosaries and related items to put prayer into the hands of as many as I can that will PRAY for others.

The world is at the precipice ... we need to TAKE ACTION ... NOW. Time for fence sitting is quickly coming to an end. We all need to do what ever we can in the way of PRAYER & PENANCE to beg God's Grace upon humanity that we may shake away this sinfulness and pride to get back on the road that leads to heaven and our Glorious Triune God!

After you have made a decision that is pleasing to God, the devil may try to make you have second thoughts. Intensify your prayer time, meditation, and good deeds. For if satan's temptations merely cause you to increase your efforts to grow in holiness, he'll have an incentive to leave you alone.
~St. Ignatius of Loyola