Loyal Chinese Catholic Church

Chinese Catholic Bishops Conference

In 1958, the People's Republic of China's communist government appointed two Catholic bishops to be consecrated without approval from the Vatican. Since then, the Catholic Church in China has been controlled by a government-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, that opposes submission to the Holy See and the Pope. Effectively, this association, if it can be considered Catholic, violates Church Canon law section 751, which states, "...schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff..." Pope Benedict XVI referred to its agents as "persons who are not 'ordained', and sometimes not even baptized", who "control and take decisions concerning important ecclesial questions, including the appointment of Bishops" and he went on to say: "Consequently, we have witnessed a demeaning of the Petrine and episcopal ministries by virtue of a vision of the Church according to which the Supreme Pontiff, the Bishops and the priests risk becoming de facto persons without office and without power. Yet in fact, as stated earlier, the Petrine and episcopal ministries are essential and integral elements of Catholic doctrine on the sacramental structure of the Church.

Today, the Chinese Catholic Bishops Conference or, more strictly, the '''Chinese Regional Bishops' Conference, (天主教台灣地區主教團) is located in Taipei, Taiwan, as the Episcopal Conference of the island.

The Holy See has always distinguished between the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the Catholics and their bishops on the mainland, which whom it has, on separate occasions, maintained a strong bond with the underground Catholic community. Pope John Paul II in July 1991 stated, "With what prayerful longing and love do I follow the life of the loyal Chinese Catholic communities?" Again, in September 1994, he noted that "The great majority of Chinese Catholics, precisely in order to live this fidelity in fullness, have chosen the path of suffering and silence. With deep affection, our hearts turn to these brothers and sisters of ours who suffer great hardship, thankful for their generous and heroic example." And Pope Benedict XVI wrote a letter of 27 May 2007 to "the Bishops, Priests, Consecrated Persons and Lay Faithful of the Catholic Church in the People's Republic of China", in order "to convey to all of you the expression of my fraternal closeness. With intense joy I acknowledge your faithfulness to Christ the Lord and to the Church, a faithfulness that you have manifested "sometimes at the price of grave sufferings". In that letter he declared that, of the mainland bishops, only "a very small number ... have not asked for, or have not yet obtained, the necessary legitimation".

Viewing Taiwan as, at least in theory, not a separate country, its Episcopal Conference is described as a "regional", not a "national" conference.

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