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18 FEATURE

Sunday February 24, 2013 „ CatholicNews

China’s seminaries close as student enrolment drops

File photo of students studying at the Sheshan Seminary in Shanghai. The seminary is now closed. CNS photo JINAN, CHINA – One-third of Chi-

na’s 12 government-recognised regional seminaries have suspended operations in recent years for a variety of reasons. The most recent is the Montecorvino Major Seminary in northern Shanxi province. It failed to recruit new seminarians, retain teachers and suffered as a result of several disputes among its administrators. Recently, local bishops and diocesan representatives agreed to close the seminary for two years. One of the administrators who made this painful decision said he was worried that it will be more

        ture due to a shortage of priestly vocations. This same problem saw two seminaries – one in the northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and the other in eastern Shandong province – stop enrolling students in 2006 and 2009 respectively. Another is the Sheshan Seminary in Shanghai. Here the diocese suspended classes “until further notice� as a result of the fallout following the controversial

Holy Spirit Seminary in Shandong decided to open its doors to laypeople. Last year, nine training courses were organised there. ordination of Auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin in July. He has been held under house arrest at the seminary since then. Acknowledging a lack of priestly vocations is common problem around the world, Bishop Joseph Zhang Xianwang of Jinan said China’s “one-child policy� has handed the Church the added challenge of trying to attract only sons to be priests. Soon after the Holy Spirit Seminary in Shandong closed, Bishop Zhang decided to open its doors to the laity. Last year, his diocese organised nine training courses there, each lasting one

to two weeks and which attracted 60-100 people. A team comprising several priests, nuns and lay leaders is responsible for the formation work. They have also invited experienced priests from neighbouring Hebei province to give lectures, the 48-year-old bishop said. However, after receiving training some laypeople turned to a Protestant way of evangelisation, he said. “They put too much stress on small communities and the role of the laity. Some even prefer holding private prayer meetings instead of going to church and receiving the sacraments. “So I have asked priests and teachers to talk more about the Church hierarchy and discipline,� the bishop said. Fr Joseph Liu Baocun of Xingtai, once a seminary teacher, agrees local dioceses should switch their focus to laity formation as priestly vocations are dropping. But he cautioned that quality is more important than quantity. He blamed the chaotic situation in the China Church on the failure of major seminaries to meet proper standards. If priests receive below-standard training, the overall quality of laypeople drops too, he noted. “To achieve effective laity formation, we must target parishioners who are not only knowledgeable, but also morally sound. Recruitment should be strict, or we will repeat the failures in priestly formation,� Fr Liu stressed. „ UCANEWS.COM

FEBRUARY 24, 2013, Vol 63, No 04  

Asian Church leaders react to pope’s resignation. Some express sadness and admiration, others hope for change

FEBRUARY 24, 2013, Vol 63, No 04  

Asian Church leaders react to pope’s resignation. Some express sadness and admiration, others hope for change

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