Thursday, September 01, 2016

Welcome to the China Bulletin - September 2016

On the China-Holy See dialogue

Cardinal John Tong on 4 August published an important article on the Sino-Vatican dialogue, in which he said China “is now willing” to reach an agreement with the Holy See on the appointment of bishops in the mainland, and explained what such an agreement can or cannot contain.

There has been much speculation in the media in recent times that the Holy See and China are moving closer to reaching an historic agreement on the crucial question of the nomination of bishops. This has provoked different reactions inside and outside the mainland.  Cardinal John Tong, the bishop of Hong Kong, has reflected much on this and published a very important article in Chinese, English and Italian on this whole subject, and also commented on the questions and criticisms that have been raised about the Sino-Vatican dialogue, and explained his view of the situation.  

The cardinal stated in the article that “fortunately, after working for many years on this issue, the Catholic Church has gradually gained the reconsideration of the Chinese government, which is now willing to reach an understanding with the Holy See on the question of the appointment of bishops in the Catholic Church in China and seek a mutually acceptable plan.” 

He said the aim of this understanding is twofold: “not to harm the unity of the Catholic Church and the essential right of the Roman Pontiff to appoint bishops”, and “not to let the pope’s right to appoint bishops be considered an interference in the internal affairs of China.”  
The cardinal affirms his conviction that “even though the concrete terms of the mutual agreement have not been made public, we believe that Pope Francis, as the protector of the unity and communion of the universal Church, would not accept any agreement that would harm the integrity of faith of the universal Church or the communion between the Catholic Church in China and the universal Church.” 

Fr. Rossa celebrates 45 years of Priesthood

On 15 August this year, on the Solemnity of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother,  Fr. Alberto Rossa completed 45 years of his priesthood. He was ordained a priest in Argentina and spent his initial years of priesthood involving in the Youth Ministry. Then he was sent to the Philippines where he spent over 27 years, during which he was instrumental in establishing and developing the Claretian Publications and Pastoral Bible Foundation. 

In 2006 he reached Macau, to open the new mission frontier in this part of East Asia. Together with him came the Claretian Publications, Macau and the Pastoral Bible Foundation to this part of the world. For the past several years, he has been serving as member of the General Council of the Catholic Foundation for Higher Education in the Diocese  of Macau, overseeing the construction of the new campus for the St. Joseph's University of Macau in particular.  In November 2015, when the Claretians established their first Community in Hong Kong, he moved to Hong Kong and took on himself the additional responsibility of a pastor in Epiphany Parish, Mui Wo. 

The Claretian Community together with the Parish Community of Epiphany Church and friends and well-wishers thank God for His great gift in the person of Fr. Rossa and we wish and pray for his good health, lots of cheers and many more years of service to the Church in China! 


Fr. Ezakias celebrated his birthday on 7 August. By coincidence, it was also his farewell day at Rosary Church where he has been rendering his services for the past two years. He will join the Epiphany Parish in Mui Wo in mid-October when he returns to Hong Kong after his vacation back in India.

Quinquenium in Korea

The first inter-delegational Quinquenium (gathering of Claretian priests who were ordained during the past five years) programme took place at Sokcho, South Korea from 22nd to 28th of August. he week-long gathering was facilitated by Fr. Josep Abella, CMF and nine priests - four from Korea, two from Taiwan and three from Japan participated in the event. 
Some of the participants of the young priests' gathering with the facilitators Fr. Manuel Ezhaparampil, CMF and Fr. Josep Abella, CMF
The programme was based on a variety of themes such as 'Sharing our missionary journey', 'Reflecting with Fr. Manuel Ezhaparampil, CMF on personal care based on our Claretian identity', 'Assimilating the 25th General Chapter document and making our own missionary project. It was also an opportunity to visit our noviciate house, our soup kitchen ministry for the needy in Sokcho and DMZ (De-Militarized Zone), an aftermath of the Korean War in 1950. 

Feast of St. Lawrence Parish in Macau

Bishop Stephen Lee, Bishop of Macau together with the concelebrants and the first-communicants during the feast of St. Lawrence in Macau on 7 August 2016 
St. Lawrence was chief among the seven deacons who served the Roman Church during the mid-third century. The young cleric held a position of great trust, caring for the goods of the Church and distributing its alms among the poor. He was arrested by the Emperor Valerian in 258, laid upon a gridiron and slowly roasted to death. Lawrence rejoiced in his awful martyrdom and died praying for the conversion of the city of Rome, in the hope that from it the faith of Christ might spread throughout the world. From that time idolatry began to decline in Rome.
A view from the balcony of the Church
Festal Agape with the parish community 

St. Lawrence Parish in Macau is over 450 years old, making it one of the oldest parishes of the diocese of Macau. Since 2015, Fr. Jojo Ancheril serves as the pastor of the parish. This year the Feast of the patron saint St. Lawrence, was celebrated on 7 August.  

Annual Forum on the Church in China Today

From 17 July to 3 September 2016 Verbiest Institute's "Renyi Chinese College" (仁义书苑) held the "Chinese College Summer Session" at Leuven. The annual study sessions are directed towards Chinese theology students in Europe (lay, sisters, religious and priests) who during the summer want to continue their formation. The summer course topics are related to pastoral and catechetical theology, spirituality and the social teaching of the Church. Teachers from Leuven, Taiwan and Hong Kong were invited this year. Fr. Paco, cmf, is collaborating with Verbiest Institute, both in Leuven (Belgium) and Taipei (Taiwan) offices.
 From the "Chinese College Summer Session" at Leuven in Belgium
Although the summer session ended on September 3, the students were invited to join the Verbiest-sponsored "Annual Forum on the Church in China Today" that was held in Leuven on September 6-7, 2016. This year the topic was "Religion and the Rule of Law." The topic was approached from both inside and outside China. Herman van Rompuy, former Prime Minister of Belgium and the first president of the European Council, opened the forum at the University Hall with a paper titled "Beyond the Separation of Church and State." He was followed by Prof. Liu Peng who presented "The Role of Religion in a Modern Society: The Chinese Perspective." The president of Leuven University, Prof. Rik Torfs, an expert in Canon Law, presented a paper on "Freedom of Religion, Scope and Future," followed by Prof. Vincent Shen's paper as a lecture on "Information Technology, the Catholic Church and the State."

News from the Publications

A flyer for the Bible Dairy 2017 in Spanish
Our Annual flagship title - "Bible Diary" and "Daily Gospel" are out on stands for grab and most of the orders of Daily Gospel 2017 and Bible Dairy 2017 have already reached their destination! This year "The Bible Diary" turns 21 years old and now it reaches more than 20 countries. It all began in Manila in 1985, and now it is published in over 20 languages by the Claretians worldwide and over a million copies are sold each year. 
Cover of the Daily Gospel 2017 in Simplified Chinese 
Daily Gospel 2017 for Mainland China: We have printed 120,000 copies. But most significant distribution happens through the electronic means - It's available for free download throughout China.
Cover of the Daily Gospel 2017 in Traditional Chinese
This is the version of the Daily Gospel 2017 is for the South China region including Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong. 
The "Bible Diary" was published 1985 in the Philippines. This was a result of the Bible Study programme we started in the parish. People started asking for a booklet with the daily readings and a short reflection and some space for writing! So Bible Diary was born!
The 'little brother' of the Bible Diary was born in 1999 with the title "Daily Gospel".
As in previous years, we have offered to help the Claretian missionaries in Cameroon in Africa so that they can distribute the Bible Dairy and Daily Gospel, with their own commentaries and design. These are published in English and French.