Thursday, December 9, 2010
"Authorities in China tighten grip on bishops," reports the Catholic Herald. As I have suggested before, I think it is important to think of this "tighten[ing]" as not merely affecting, or being directed at, "bishops", but at the Church -- all of us.
Dozens of Chinese bishops were taken to Beijing against their will to take part in the National Congress of Chinese Catholic Representatives to vote for new leaders of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and the Council of Chinese Bishops.
The latter group acts as China’s bishops’ conference but is state-imposed and is not in full communion with the Church. Pope Benedict XVI has said both groups have a purpose which is “incompatible with Catholic doctrine”.
China’s National Congress of Catholics has not met for four years because of opposition from bishops obedient to the Holy See.
Although some bishops went willingly to the meeting, which took place at the beginning of the week, AsiaNews, a news agency which has sources on the ground, reported that others suffered from forceful abductions. A number of bishops have also disappeared to avoid arrest and forcible transfer to the event.
I realize, of course, that for many Catholics in America, there is a tendency / temptation (in some cases, an understandable one) to separate mentally "our Church" (i.e., where we choose to worship and where we find faith-community) from "the Church" (the "institutional church", "the hierarchy", "the Vatican", etc.) In my view, this tendency is a worrisome one. But, in any event, focusing for now only on the situation in China, I would hope that all Catholics -- however close to the front of their faith-mind is the connection between "being Catholic" and "being in communion with the bishop" -- would see clearly, and recoil from, the grave threat to religious liberty that is involved when one of the world's most powerful and authoritarian states kidnaps bishops and coerces them to validate through their presence that state's effort to control the Church.