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Marrying Sisters & Chinese Catholics’ Appeal

St. Pascal Baylon’s Militancy

Dear TIA,

I noted that Prof. Plinio felt something of the militant aspect of a Saint was missing in the St Pascal Baylon biography that was read to him so he could make his commentary.

He was right.

Here is the missing piece. St. Pascal Baylon would fearlessly preach the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, thus arousing the fury of the Huguenots. On one occasion, Dom Gueranger reports, in the course of a journey through France, he triumphantly defended the dogma of the Real Presence against the blasphemies of a Calvinist preacher, and in consequence, narrowly escaped death at the hands of a Huguenot mob. He wanted to die a martyr defending Catholic doctrine, but God chose a different death for him, and then proof of his sanctity with many miracles.

What I like about Prof. Plinio’s commentaries is that he always places the Saint in historical context and shows how the Saint fought the errors or tendencies of his times.

     Thanks for giving this treasure to Catholics in our country!



Marrying Their Sisters?


I got asked an interesting question the other day. The Bible (Genesis) states that Adam and Eve had 3 sons, Cain, Abel and Seth. Who did they marry? Would they have been their sisters??


TIA responds:

  1. When the Scriptures speak of the three sons of Adam or the three sons of Noah, it does not mean that there were no other siblings.

  2. It may be implicit in your question that the Scriptures only refers to the Jewish race, while other races may have originally existed. This supposition is false. The Catholic Church sustains that all of mankind came from only one couple – Adam and Eve. This is called Monogenism, which is opposed to Poligenism, an unproved theory that goes hand-in-hand with the false claim of Evolutionism: man comes from apes.

  3. Yes, the first men of History married their sisters, as noted by the Fathers of the Church. Among them this text of St. Augustine explains the topic:

    “As, therefore, the human race, subsequently to the first marriage of the man who was made of dust, and his wife who was made out of his side, required the union of males and females in order that it might multiply, and as there were no human beings except those who had been born of these two, men took their sisters for wives — an act which was as certainly dictated by necessity in these ancient days as afterwards it was condemned by the prohibitions of religion ...

    “And we see that, since the human race has increased and multiplied, this [custom not to marry one’s sibling] is so strictly observed even among the profane worshippers of many and false gods, that though their laws perversely allow a brother to marry his sister, yet custom, with a finer morality, prefers to forego this license. And though it was quite allowable in the earliest ages of the human race to marry one's sister, it is now abhorred as a thing which no circumstances could justify.” (The City of God, XV,16)

    The law forbidding marriage between close relatives was not given until the time of Moses (Leviticus 18-20). One might recall that Abraham married his half-sister (Genesis 20:12), and God blessed this union to produce the Hebrew people through Isaac and Jacob.
We hope this will answer your question.


     TIA correspondence desk


By the Shoe You Know It

Dear TIA,

Ave Maria Purissima!

I thought these were two interesting photographs [below]. They are from a convent school in the Irish midlands in 1967. Already we can see the influence of Vatican II as we can see Sister’s bare (or nylon covered) ankle and her “fashionable” shoes.

However in other respects, traditional convent school discipline still rules. The girl addresses Sister or answers her while standing up straight with arms by her side, showing full respect for the authority of Sister. The girls while seated have their feet and knees strictly together which was always a requirement in traditional convent schools.

God bless you.

     Yours sincerely,

     C.P., Ireland

Catholic class in Ireland 1967


Chinese Catholics Appeal to the Vatican


This is a moving piece, which gives an inside view of the betrayal of the Vatican of the Chinese Catholic Underground Church, in order to make concession to the Communist government.


The Sino-Vatican Pact fails again: an appeal from the Catholic Church in China


Chine Catholics

This has been written by a Chinese Catholic,
to whom we have for obvious reasons granted anonymity

The Catholic Herald - May 20, 2023 - The translation of Bishop Shen Bin from the Diocese of Haimen to the nearby diocese of Shanghai on 4th April 2023 marks the failure of the secret Sino-Vatican agreement of 2018. Diocesan priests in Shanghai are mostly reluctant to accept Bishop Shen Bin as the bishop of Shanghai, and it seems difficult for Bishop Shen to execute his governance such as transferring the priests among parishes.

The appointment was made, without the approval of the Apostolic See, by the so-called ‘Chinese Bishops’ Conference’, an institution controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), of which Bishop Shen Bin is President. This is now the second time that the CCP has appointed a bishop without papal approval.

The first time was the illicit appointment, denounced by the Vatican, of Bishop John Peng Weizhao, the bishop of the Diocese of Yujiang in Jiangxi Province, as auxiliary bishop of the so-called ‘Diocese of Jiangxi’. (As well as controlling the appointment of bishops, the Chinese state has taken upon itself the reorganization of dioceses without reference to the Holy See.) Looking back over the five years since the agreement, it is difficult to discern its positive outcomes.

Up to 2018, there were ‘underground’ bishops who recognized the authority of the Pope, and a parallel structure of bishops and dioceses, the ‘Catholic Patriotic Association’ (CPA), which was in fact a branch of the Chinese State. The bishops of the CPA were, however, ordained validly, and in some cases made public or private declarations of loyalty to the Pope.

Perhaps surprisingly, CPA bishops and their priests are not necessarily shielded from persecution—the seizure of church buildings, for example, or arbitrary arrest—and large numbers of dioceses are deliberately left without bishops. No official Bishops’ Conference recognizable by the Vatican was possible, since by definition a Bishops’ Conference must have as its members all and only the legitimate bishops of a nation.

On the other hand, apart from Ad Apostolorum Principis of Pope Pius XII in 1958, the CPA has not been officially denounced as a schismatic entity by the Vatican, which over many years preferred to maintain a situation of ambiguity, in the hope that this would make some future rapprochement easier. In this confusing situation, lay Catholics generally felt able to attend services organized under the authority of both sets of bishops.

The 2018 agreement was intended to bring some order into this situation. First, to ensure that all the bishops of the CPA were consecrated with the necessary ‘pontifical mandate’ from the Vatican. Second, to fold the ‘underground’ Church into the CPA, so that there would be one, genuine, Catholic Church in China. Third, to create a stable ongoing situation with a level of Chinese state involvement acceptable to both sides. Its failure, however, can be summarized under three points.
  1. The Holy See still lacks the final say on the appointment of bishops in China. Optimistic observers assumed that the unity of the Church in China would be served by bringing an end to episcopal ordinations without authorization from the Holy See. What has in fact happened is that the CPA (or the Chinese Communist government, since they are the same thing) has paused episcopal ordinations that lack the proper mandate, but taken to translating bishops between dioceses without papal approval. This appears to be a way of getting round the ban on unauthorized episcopal ordinations.

    In seeing how this practice relates to the 2018 agreement, however, we cannot simply refer to the wording of the document, since this has never been publicly disclosed in full. It is true that episcopal ordinations now take place with pontifical mandate, but in practice this was already happening before the agreement was made, so does not represent a concession by the Chinese Communist Party. Actually, no matter before or after the agreement, in those CPA Episcopal ordinations with pontifical mandate, only the letter of appointment from the CPA is allowed to be read publicly, while the papal bull of appointment could only be read out privately in the sacristy beforehand.

  2. There are still several excommunicated bishops in mainland China. According to the Canon Law, if an illicit episcopal consecration takes place, the consecrators and the ordained(s) are excommunicated latae sententiae. This is an automatic penalty, happening immediately and without any declaration from the Holy See (Canon 1382). At one time there were many cases of episcopal ordination without pontifical mandate, and all the consecrators (including the co-consecrators) as well as the ordinands would have fallen foul of this canon.

    In 2018, Pope Francis lifted the excommunication from eight bishops (strangely, including a deceased bishop who had gone to his grave insisting on his independence from the Universal Church), who had been consecrated illicitly, but he did not do the same for the bishops who consecrated them. It is hard to know if this was an oversight or an attempt to pretend that no latae sententiae excommunication had taken place.

  3. Legitimate bishops who cooperate with the agreement continue to be harassed. In 2018, with the execution of the agreement, two underground bishops, Peter Zhuang Jianjian of the Diocese of Swatow and Vincent Guo Xijin of the Diocese of Mindong, were asked to give up their positions. Aged 87 in 2018, Bishop Zhuang was asked to resign in order to give way to his counterpart, the CPA bishop Huang Bingzhang. By the time Bishop Zhuang was brought to Beijing and told to resign by a ‘foreign prelate’, he felt very depressed and said he would rather be accused of disobedience than follow such an absurd demand. Nevertheless, in the end he accepted the demand from the Holy See and stepped aside.

    The case of Bishop Guo Xijin seems even more extraordinary. He was told by the Vatican to accept demotion to the position of an auxiliary bishop in his own diocese, while his CPA counterpart, Bishop Zhan Silu, was be recognized as the ordinary by the Holy See. At first Bishop Guo accepted this, as an order from the Pope. But in January 2020 he was driven out of the cathedral by the local authority by means of cutting out the water and electricity supply. At the same time, a notification was pasted on the wall saying that the building where Bishop Guo lived, built more than 10 years ago, was ‘not aligned to the fire laws and regulations’, hence must be closed immediately. Several of his priests were driven out from their parishes as well. Nine months later he announced his resignation.
These two cases have become widely known among Chinese Catholics, and it seems clear that the agreement has done nothing but encourage the Chinese state to encroach yet further on the liberty and rights of the Church. Instead of making concessions without any reciprocal move from China, it is high time the Vatican at least registered a protest. For the sake of the dignity of the Catholic Church, we urge that:
  1. The Holy See declare that the translation of Bishop Shen Bin to be illicit and without effect.

  2. The Holy See disclose the full content of the secret 2018 Sino-Vatican Agreement to the faithful throughout the world, especially those in China. They have the right to know such an important agreement concerning them.

  3. The Holy See reconsider the renewal of the agreement with the CCP and adjust its diplomatic policy with a view to gaining some real concessions for the good of the Church.
There is an old Chinese saying that “A gentleman would rather die than be humiliated” (士可殺不可辱). Chinese Catholics do not want endless concessions that only bring pain and suffering to the Church. Even at the cost of diplomatic embarrassment, we would prefer that the Vatican break its silence and respond to this illicit translation with courage and dignity, rather than turning a blind eye to it.

Posted May 23, 2023


Blason de Charlemagne
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