06/19/2019 China (International Christian Concern)- Msgr. Guo Xijin, an auxiliary bishop applicant of Fujian province, refused to join China’s government-run Patriotic Catholic Association (PA) as a way of showing his support for fellow priests.
Up until earlier this year, Msgr. Guo was recognized as an ordinary bishop by the Vatican, but not by the Chinese government. Eventually, the official bishop of the diocese, Msgr. Zhan Silu was reappointed, moving Msgr. Guo to the role of auxiliary bishop. However, the Chinese government continued to criticize his work and labeled his ministry as “illegal”, prompting him to consider his application to the PA.
China’s Religious Affairs Office required Msgr. Guo to sign documents in which he pledged obedience to the new bishop, but that the primary submission must be to the laws of the country and adherence to the principles of the PA. At this, Msgr. Guo refused to sign and submitted a letter officially resigning his application saying, “The government has already decided to persecute priests who refuse to sign the membership in the PA. If I am unable to protect them, it is not worthy my time to be recognized as an auxiliary bishop. I am willing to face persecution together with other priests.”
Under the unpublished Sino-Vatican agreement, it is expected that any and all bishops agree to the laws of China, but maintains that membership into the PA is voluntary. In contrast, the organization that controls the church requires mandatory registration. The Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association is the government’s official avenue for regulating priests that are active within their country. The Vatican hoped that the Sino-Vatican agreement would allow for reconciliation steps between the official and the underground Catholic Church, though appears to have deepened the divide and increased the potential for persecution.
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