A newly ordained bishop of the persecuted Church in China has chosen fidelity  over personal comfort and political accommodation .

Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin was whisked away just hours after he announced his resignation from the leadership of the Patriotic Catholic Association, or PCA, the government body that controls China’s state-sanctioned version of the Catholic Church, according to two people close to the PCA.

Ma, whose ordination had been supported by both Beijing and the Vatican, made the announcement during his ordination ceremony on Saturday in the St. Ignatius Cathedral in Shanghai.

In a snub to the authorities, he said he would immediately quit his duties in the association to focus on his new role as auxiliary bishop of Shanghai, one of the largest dioceses in China.

The Vatican bars its clergy from holding political office, but many senior clergy in China simultaneously serve in the church and in the PCA.

When Ma came to speak, he faced the congregation, gave remarks of thanks and spiritual mediation, and then delivered his surprise conclusion, according to video footage of the events.

“At this time I’ve been reflecting on what our loving mother church reminded me, once you assume your pastoral job .?.?. your body and heart should be completely focused on pastoral things and evangelization. It is not appropriate to assume other duties anymore. So, from the moment of today’s ordination, it is not appropriate for me to be a member of the Patriotic Association anymore,” he said.


When Bishop Ma finished, the congregation broke into spontaneous applause. Ma is now in what two employees of the PCA call “closed meditation,” and there is no indication of when and under what conditions he might be released.

Articles by Matthew Schmitz

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