Friday, April 01, 2011

Welcome to the Macau-China Bulletin: April 2011

Easter Celebrates God's Gift of Love
May we see His mighty hand
In every detail of our lives
May we be renewed and strengthened
In the promise of our Lord
Missionaries in Macau - Hong Kong- China
Wish you a very Happy Easter


On March 11, 2011, the world was shaken with the news of a massive earthquake that struck off the coast of Japan, churning up a devastating tsunami that swept over cities and farmland in the northern part of the country and set off warnings as far away the west coast of the United States and South America.

We had all the more reasons to be concerned for we have our communities in those region. It was a relief to get the updates from Fr. Felix through NUNC and also from Fr. Francisco Carin, saying all our brothers are safe.
“Thanks for being with us at this time. Thanks be to God that nothing has happened to our houses in Nagoya and Osaka, nor in Tokyo. Only a few bookcases fell down. Nothing more. The strongest damages hapened in Iwateken, Ibaragi ken..., in this zone. I believe that the deaths are now counted in the hundreds. The earthquake occured a few minutes before 3pm. Some 100 infants were in the kindergaten in Imaichi, and we moved them out of the building quickly as a precaution. Luckily, everything was OK and we were able to return to normalcy in a few minutes. In Hirakta almost nothing was felt. Johan was in the Tokyo house alone. The seminarian, Nagasaki, was in Gunma. But both are well, although it took a while to get in touch with them because the telephone lines were overloaded with calls and didn’t work. For the moment, nothing more" - wrote Fr. Félix Martínez to Fr. General, on that day.

Recorded as 9.0 on the Richter scale, it was the most powerful quake ever to hit the country. As the nation struggled with a rescue effort, it also faced the worst nuclear emergency since Chernobyl; explosions and leaks of radioactive gas took place in three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station that suffered partial meltdowns, while spent fuel rods at another reactor overheated and caught fire, releasing radioactive material directly into the atmosphere. Japanese officials turned to increasingly desperate measures, as traces of radiation were found in Tokyo's water and in water pouring from the reactors into the ocean. A month after the quake, nuclear officials put the crisis in the same category of severity as the Chernobyl disaster.

As of April 7, the official death toll had been raised to 12,600, and more than 14,700 people were listed as missing, although there may be some overlap between the two groups. The final toll is expected to reach nearly 20,000. More than 160,000 people remained housed in temporary shelters; tens of thousands of others evacuated their homes due to the nuclear crisis.

Missionaries in the China Mission region join all our brothers in Japan, praying for the hundreds of thousands of the victims of the disaster.


Our stall at the Fair
Held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California, the R E Congress is the largest annual gathering of its kind in the world. With 40,000 people attending each year, the four-day event is sponsored by the Office of Religious Education, a department of the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Fr. Alberto with Megan McKenna
Begun in 1968 and an "institute" primarily for religious educators, Congress still today keeps the same focus -- to teach more about the Catholic faith as well as to advance personal growth. And today the event is open to people of all vocations and all different faiths.
Fr. Alberto with Joyce Rupp
Youth Day – Congress opens on Thursday with a day-long event geared for high school-age youth. This is an opportunity for students -- not only from the Los Angeles Archdiocese but throughout California and the western states -- to come together and share in Liturgy, workshops, entertainment and experience the energy of the Closing Rally.
With Ron Rolheiser
Congress days – The remaining three-day weekend allows adults/young adults the opportunity to choose among 200 speakers presenting over 300 workshops, enjoy lunchtime entertainment and evening concerts, experience Liturgy in a variety of characters and discover numerous other events.
With the Director of Liguori Publications
Free Exhibits (open to Registrants only) – One of the perks of Congress is the Exhibit Hall, held Friday through Sunday -- showcasing over 250 companies as exhibitors and ranging from religious art to music, and from publishing houses to educational institutions, in addition to our own represented Archdiocesan ministries.- - -

Bishop ordained with ‘dual’ approval

First ordination since China-Vatican ties turned sour 'not a sign of warmer relations'.

Father Paul Liang Jiansen, 46, was ordained Bishop of Jiangmen on 30 March 2011, making him the first new bishop in China this year.

The episcopal ordination was held at the Cathedral of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Jiangmen city, southern Guangdong province. The new bishop invited his seminary classmates – Bishops Joseph Gan Junqiu of Guangzhou, Joseph Liao Hongqing of Meixian (Meizhou) and Paul Su Yongda of Zhanjiang, all from Guangdong – to be the consecrator and co-ordainers.

Bishop Paul Liang Jiansen of Jiangmen
Bishops John Baptist Li Suguang of Nanchang, John Baptist Tan Yanquan of Nanning, Joseph Shen Bin of Haimen and about 40 priests also concelebrated the Mass. Priests and laypeople from neighboring Hong Kong and Macau dioceses were also present. The cathedral accommodated 400 people, while another 1,000 sat in the courtyard. As all seating was through ticket only, hundreds of faithful who did not have tickets watched the liturgy via television screens outside the church compound.
Kwun Ping-hung, a Church-in-China expert, said this “dual-approved” ordination has conveyed a positive message, but “in light of current China-Vatican relations, we should not over-interpret it as a sign of warming ties.” Both sides still hold different view over selecting and appointing bishops, which may be reflected in the near future or through other incidents, he noted.

Jiangmen diocese currently has one bishop, seven priests and 26 nuns serving nearly 20,000 faithful, who are spread over 24 counties and six cities. The diocese is a special place in the history of the China Church, as two pioneering Jesuit missioners left an impression here. Bishop Liang said his coat of arms bear the images of Saint Francis Xavier and Father Matteo Ricci, and expressed his aim to model himself on them.

Saint Xavier arrived on Shangchuan Island in 1552, but died months later while waiting to enter the mainland. His tomb there is a famous pilgrimage site in Jiangmen. Father Ricci first spent six years (1583-1589) in Zhaoqing in the northern part of today’s Jiangmen diocese, where he built a church and prepared for his mission to mainland China. Bishop Liang said the two great missioners inspired him to put greater effort in spreading the Gospel, as many local people have not heard about Jesus yet.

Due to a shortage of religious vocations, he said will make it a priority to train lay leaders to share the burden of priests and nuns in catechesis and evangelical work. Bishop Liang entered the seminary shortly after he was baptized in 1985. He became a priest in 1991 and has served in Jiangmen parish since 1995. He was appointed as vicar general in 2004 by his predecessor Bishop Peter Paul Li Panshi, who died in 2007.

Church in China may be reaching an impasse: Archbishop Savio Hon Taifai

The new Chinese secretary of "Propaganda Fide" exposes his views and plans for the first time. Archbishop Hon, 61, is the first Chinese to hold high office in the Roman curia. Last December 23, Benedict XVI appointed him secretary of the congregation for the evangelization of peoples, which has jurisdiction over all mission territories, including China.

The interview with Hon is reproduced further below. But in order to put it into context, it is first necessary to summarize briefly what has happened in recent months between the Chinese government and the Catholic Church.

Last March 30 there was the ordination in China, in Jiangmen, of a new bishop: Paul Liang Jiansen, 46. His appointment was "approved" by the Holy See and at the same time "authorized" by the Chinese authorities.
Between April 18 and November 15 of 2010, ten other bishops were ordained in China with the joint approval of Rome and Beijing, in the dioceses of Hohot, Haimen, Xiamen, Sanyuan, Taizhou, Yan'an, Taiyuan, Yuncheng, Nanchang, Zhoucun.

In the midst of this, however, on November 15, there was an illicit ordination in the diocese of Chengde, performed at the behest of the government alone, without the pope's approval. No illicit episcopal ordination had been performed in China since 2006.

And shortly afterward, from December 6 to 8, the Chinese authorities gathered in Beijing a national assembly of Catholic representatives in which 45 bishops participated many of them approved by the Vatican, and the leaders of the episcopal conference and the patriotic association were elected: neither of which organizations is recognized by the Holy See.

Both the illicit ordination in Chengde and the assembly in Beijing were condemned by the Holy See with very strongly worded statements, on November 24 and December 17.

So here is Gianni Cardinale's interview with Archbishop Hon, published first in the April 1 issue of "Avvenire" and now taken from the UCA News:


Interview with Savio Hon Taifai

Q: Your Excellency, what were the reactions to your appointment, in your country?

A: Very positive in Hong Kong. I have received many congratulations also from communities and bishops of mainland China. They considered my appointment a true and proper Christmas present from the pope.

Q: And from the Chinese government and the official organisms of the Church?

A: No reaction. Maybe it's better that way, as is said in English: "no news, good news." They did not want to express any judgment: neither positive, nor negative. This seems to me an attitude of prudent restraint.

Q: You have traveled extensively in mainland China. When was the last time?
A: I was in Shanghai from last December 8 to 13. Precisely in conjunction with the eighth assembly of Chinese Catholic representatives that was held in Beijing from the 7th to the 9th of that month.

Q: What judgments did you take away in this regard?
A: The friends and students with whom I spoke were all very critical. It could be that some of them were favorable, but did not want to say so in front of me. I also spoke with those who had come back from Beijing. They also, with me, were critical. And they said that they had undergone enormous pressure to participate.

Q: On that occasion, the Holy See issued a very tough statement . . .

A: Yes. But I must say that not all of the participants had been forced to go. Some went spontaneously, just as they spontaneously adhere to the policy of the "autonomy" of the Chinese Church from the pope and from the Holy See.

Q: Even among the bishops?
A: Unfortunately even among the bishops, including those recognized by Rome. In Beijing not a few of them threw themselves at the new bishop of Chengde, consecrated illicitly a few weeks earlier, to congratulate him, to have photos taken with him, and this they were not obligated to do. In short: 45 bishops participated in this assembly, of an average age below 50. Some of them were taken there by force, others were not.

Q: And what conclusions do you draw from this observation?

A: That, unfortunately, the number of opportunists has grown.

Q: And what is the cause?
A: A lack of adequate formation in the clergy. But also some shortcomings in the selection of candidates for the episcopate. Sometimes the best have not been promoted, but compromise appointments have been preferred. For a few years now, in fact, Chinese officials have understood that the illegitimate bishops will never be truly accepted by the faithful, and so they prefer to work so that priests obedient to their guidelines may be consecrated bishops with the "placet" of the Holy See.

Q: So you maintain that a better formation of candidates to the priesthood is needed, and a more attentive discernment on the part of the Holy See in the selection of candidates to the episcopate. Does this mean that in recent years this has not always been the case?

A: This is not only an opinion of mine. Often in mainland China I have heard complaints from faithful and priests over compromise episcopal choices. But I must add that the Holy See has always, rightly, been concerned about avoiding illegitimate ordinations.

Q: And it is difficult to find the balance between this requirement and that of avoiding legitimate but compromise ordinations.

A: In effect that is the case. Selecting good candidates is difficult. The government maintains that in presenting lists of candidates that are acceptable from its point of view, it is already making a big concession. And if the Holy See refuses to give the "placet," then it threatens to have them consecrated anyway . . .

Q: As happened last November in Chengde.

A: Yes, for me that was a clear message, the government wanted to say: in my house I'm the boss. A signal that almost brought us back to the 1950's, as if some signs of dialogue that indeed have been registered had never been.

Q: How can this dialogue be resumed?

A: The Chinese government has officials who are very well prepared and capable in negotiating, and so must be the interlocutors on our side. But first of all, it must be understood if the government really wants to reach an agreement with the Holy See or not.

Q: On this, and on other things, there is a difference of opinion between two leading experts on China: Cardinal Joseph Zen and Fr. Jerome Heyndrickx. How do you see this debate?

A: Fr. Heyndrickx makes two premises. The first is that the Chinese government has good intentions, including that of signing an accord with the Holy See. The second is that after the pope's 2007 letter to Chinese Catholics, the so-called clandestine communities no longer have any reason to exist. On the other side, Cardinal Zen, who understands very well the Chinese reality and mentality, does not trust the communist authorities very much. He maintains, rightly, that if the government wants to secure this trust, it must carry out concrete actions that have not been seen so far. For example, giving the Church the freedom to choose its own bishops. Moreover, Cardinal Zen, and I with him, maintains that the clandestine communities still have reason to exist.

Q: Why has excommunication not been declared for the illicitly ordained bishops and their consecrators?

A: In reality, immediate excommunication is stipulated for those who receive and for those who carry out an illegitimate ordination. But there can be attenuating elements, for example for those who are forced to play a role in these actions. I believe that the Holy See, before declaring excommunication publicly, is investigating the individual cases to identify these attenuating circumstances. But this is understandably a delicate and long process.

Q: What is your judgment on illegitimate bishops?

A: There are cases of candidates who have themselves consecrated bishops illicitly with the idea that in a short span of time, at their pleading, the Holy See will grand pardon and full legitimacy. Care must be taken to oppose this kind of contriving. Having said this, however, it must always be kept in mind that the Church is the Body of Christ and that if there is a little piece of this Body that is breaking off, it must not be let go, but efforts must be made to recover it with justice but also with mercy.

Incredible Indeed!

This is a short clip done in the late 60's of Mr. Bruce Lee using Nung-chucks to win in a Ping Pong game. Even playing against two opponents. His focus, speed, reflex, and accuracy are absolutely incredible! And this was long before the days of photo-shop and high-tech special effects. Bruce Lee was born in Hong Kong. Enjoy the clipping!