Pope Francis has been following Bishop Ma Daqin’s personal and ecclesial matter as well as the situation of Chinese Catholics, “with concern and interest” and “remembers them daily in his prayers”. This was the Holy See’s response in light of the controversy that broke out in the Church and in the media over the statements the bishop posted on his blog. Readers will recall that Mgr. Ma Daqin, who has been banned from exercising his episcopal ministry for the past four years, recently described the decision announced on the day of his ordination as Bishop of Shanghai to resign from the state-supervised Patriotic Catholic Association, as “not very wise”. In recent days some suggested the Vatican may have played a part in the decision and some called for a tough stance to be adopted against the bishop.
The response came on 23 June, with a statement from the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi. “The Holy See came to know about the recent statements attributed to Mgr. Thaddeus Ma Daqin, Auxiliary Bishop of Shanghai, via his blog and news agencies,” the spokesman said. “There is currently no direct information regarding this.”
Fr. Lombardi, therefore, denied that the Vatican had had any direct or indirect involvement in the matter: “Any speculations regarding the Holy See’s alleged involvement is out of place,” he clarified. He then mentioned Pope Francis and his Christian response: “The Holy Father has been following Bishop Ma Daqin’s personal and ecclesial matter as well as the situation of Chinese Catholics, with concern and interest and remembers them daily in his prayers.”