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China ‘detains’ Shanghai bishop who quit official post

Two men in the church in Shanghai where Bishop Ma is reported to be held

There are an estimated 10 million Catholics in China

A newly-ordained  (mới được thụ phong) bishop is reportedly being held after announcing he was quitting the body that oversees China’s state-sanctioned (được nhà nước bảo hộ) Catholic Church. (Giáo hội Công giáo)

Thaddeus Ma Daqin, Shanghai’s auxiliary bishop, announced his resignation from China’s Patriotic Catholic Association at his ordination mass on Saturday.

Catholic media and other religious sources say he has been confined in a seminary (trường dòng) near Shanghai.

There has been longstanding tension between Beijing and the Vatican.

The Vatican, which appointed Bishop Ma, does not recognise the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA). The Chinese church in turn rejects the Pope’s authority.

At the scene

image of John Sudworth

John Sudworth BBC News, Shanghai

Rumour had it that (Có tin đồn rằng) Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin had been taken to the Sheshan Seminary, the old church on the outskirts of Shanghai, where he trained to be a priest.

He is said to have so upset (làm … bực tức đến mức) the government that it felt the need to (thấy cần phải) remove him from public view.

When we visited the seminary, we found a quiet church set (được xây dựng) high up on a hill, and a sleepy (im lìm, dormant, quiet) priest training centre (trung tâm đào tạo linh mục) undergoing construction work in the valley below.

There was no sign of the missing bishop and no sign of any security officials. Most priests, we were told, had left for their holidays.

Mystery of China’s missing bishop

The BBC’s John Sudworth in Shanghai says Bishop Ma appears to have been silenced – his announcement that he intended to resign from the CPCA apparently sent shock waves through the official hierarchy (hệ thống quản lý  chính thức).

China’s estimated 10 million Catholics are split between followers of the Pope and the CPCA.

Reports said Bishop Ma told a 1,000-strong congregation that he was stepping down from the governing body to focus on his new responsibilities. This drew loud applause, said a report in the Hong Kong-based (có trụ sở tại HK) South China Morning Post newspaper.

But analysts say the move was seen as a challenge to (sự thách thức đối với) Chinese state control over Catholic churches and clergy (nhà thờ và giáo hội Công giáo).

Bishop Ma did not return for mass (thánh lễ) on Sunday and is said to have been taken away to a seminary in Shanghai and forbidden contact with others, according to an Associated Press report, citing Catholic researcher Anthony Lam and the AsiaNews and UCAnews websites.

A close friend of () the bishop has told the BBC that Bishop Ma has now been forced to undertake “a period of reflection” (giai đoạn phản tỉnh) in private (ở chốn riêng biệt), and one that might last for months.

He has chosen belief over freedom,” (Ngài đã chấp nhận giam cầm để phụng sự đức tin) the friend said.

The vice chairman of the CPA, Liu Bainian, has also said that he is awaiting the results of an investigation into Bishop Ma, according to Hong Kong’s Ming Pao (Minh Báo) newspaper.

China broke off (cắt đứt) diplomatic relations with the Vatican in 1951, but in recent years tensions between Beijing and Rome had eased somewhat (hòa dịu phần nào), with the occasional visit by a senior Vatican cardinal.

Relations suffered a setback (trải qua giai đoạn trì trệ) in 2010 with the consecration (tấn phong) of the first Chinese bishop for almost five years without the approval of Rome.

Last week the Chinese authorities ordained (làm lễ tấn phong) a bishop in the northern city of Harbin without the approval of the Vatican.

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