Faith & Dialogue

Newsletter of the USCCA | October 2018 | Issue 001

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From the Director's Desk


In January, I succeeded Father Rob Carbonneau, CP as executive director of the US-China Catholic Association. Father Rob had led the China Association for three years. During much of that time, I served as chair of our Board of Directors, and we had the opportunity to work together on numerous projects.

Because of my experience on the Board, I had had some appreciation of the China Association’s wide ranging activities and relationships. And I had participated in internal discussions regarding future directions the USCCA might travel. The months since January have been a time of exploration and transition, a transition that has provided the opportunity to renew old friendships and embarked on new ones.

Over the course of the past ten months, I have been welcomed to the Bay Area by many wonderful members the local Chinese Catholic community, and their gracious welcome has truly made all thing difference. Early on I met with Bishop Emeritus of Oakland John Cummins, who serves on our board, and he extended his customary good-natured wisdom; when I later met with Oakland’s current bishop, Michael Barber, he, too, offered his support and helped us make some valuable connections. From the UC Berkeley campus to the campus of Santa Clara University, from the Ricci Institute and the Dui Hua Foundation to China Source, people with long experience working in China shared their insights with me as we reflected on possibilities for collaboration. 

Nationally, we have reached out to Catholic organizations such as FOCUS, a number of Catholic universities with an interest in China, and old friends in the U.S. Bishops’ Conference. When I was in Rome this summer, I shared lengthy exchanges with key Vatican experts and prelates. And when I led a study tour of China this summer, I was able to strengthen relationships with truly dedicated leaders in the Catholic community from Hong Kong to Xi'an to Beijing, and many places in between. In pursuing our mission, we play a modest role, but what we do is done in collaboration with others. 

These past months have also been eventful ones for China. China continues to make great strides in terms of its own development and in engaging partners in the global community. Having begun to address some of the byproducts of that development, such as local air quality, it is now an emerging leader on a range of environmental issues. At the end of September the Vatican and Beijing reached an interim accord to on the appointment of bishops. At the same time, Chinese authorities has continued to apply strong-handed measures against various faith communities, leaving the outside world confused as it has tried to make sense of these developments.

We do live in interesting times. Let us pray that this circumstance be a blessing, not a curse. To meet the challenges ahead, the US-China Catholic Association has revamped old programs and begun to develop new ones. We have a new newsletter, a new website, and even a slightly revised name.* In 2019 we look forward to a pilgrimage, a study tour, an international conference, talks around the country, and several other new initiatives. 

In this first issue of our new newsletter, we provide information about these developments, as well as reflections from a number of perspectives on the recent Sino-Vatican accord. If you are not already subscribed, you can do so here. I look forward to staying in touch.


Father Michael

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Study Tour Reveals the Changing Face of the Church in China

During the second half of June 2018, the US-China Catholic Association sponsored a study tour of China that introduced participants to China, its cosmopolitan cities, its venerable history, its cultural diversity, and the varied ways that Catholics are responding to contemporary circumstances. 

By journey’s end, study tour members had a deep appreciation of the rapid social change affecting both city and countryside in China. And their stereotypes of religion in Chinese society were in some instances confirmed, while in others challenged or completely overturned...

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Many Voices, One Song – November Benefit Concert a Success! 

On November 3rd, as a balmy Saturday afternoon unfolded in San Jose, the three Chinese Catholic choirs of South Bay united in faith and melody to perform a concert at Saint Clare’s Church in Santa Clara. The concert was a benefit for the US-China Catholic Association, as well as an opportunity for the community to learn more about its mission and activities...



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Reflections on History and on

Current Developments for the Church in China

by the Most Rev. John S. Cummins, Bishop Emeritus of Oakland


Bishop John Cummins served as the second bishop of Oakland from 1977 to 2003. For 22 of those years he also served as U.S. episcopal liaison to the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences. A longtime friend of China and of the American Chinese Catholic community, Bishop Cummins has been a member of USCCA Board Directors since 2012.

The latest movement in the relationship of the Vatican and China stirred some memories for me. One is of Mass in a convent in the Diocese of Jilin in northeast China. There were twenty five or thirty nuns – divided between young and old, without any of middle age. To my homily on the feast of St. Clare I added a postscript: that the knowledge we had of their suffering through the years was strength and encouragement for our own faith at home. At the end of the translation by the superior, who had done some of her formation in Germany, the community applauded.

I also recall on morning in 1980 when I was reading of the bishop of Canton, Dominic Tang Yee-ming, who was released from prison after twenty two years...

Witnesses to the Faith: A Catholic Pilgrimage in a Changing China

This pilgrimage sponsored by the USCCA is a unique opportunity to visit China, experience its contemporary vibe, and visit famous cultural and historical sites. In addition, participants will be able to learn from and reflect on Chinese Catholics' witness to their faith, both in history and in contemporary society. The itinerary, which includes stops in Beijing, Taiyuan (Shanxi Province), Hengshui & Xian Xian (Hebei Province), and Tianjin, affords a rare opportunity to visit China's great cosmopolitan cities and sites off the beaten track.

At each step of the way, commentary will be provided by renowned Catholic scholar Dr. Anthony Clark, author of China's Saints (1644–1911) and Heaven in Conflict: Franciscans and the Boxer Uprising in Shanxi.

Dates: April 23 to May 2, 2019

We hope that participants in this unique pilgrimage will deepen their knowledge of China, their appreciation of its Catholic history, and their own faith.


China is a land of extraordinary cultural and historical breadth. This May the USCCA will host a unique opportunity to experience China’s ultra-modern cities, its great centers of education, and its ancient heartland, as well as villages where some of the minority groups that participate in the cultural mix of China have lived for centuries.

In these diverse settings, study tour participants will learn from Chinese Catholics who share in and contribute to the life of their local communities. Fr. Michael Agliardo, director of the USCCA and a visiting professor of sociology at Santa Clara University, will provide grist for reflection on the ways that Christianity and China have encountered one another, from grand metropolis to rural village, from warm welcome to occasional misunderstanding, from the Tang Dynasty to the contemporary period.

The Heartland and the Borderlands: USCCA 2019 Study Tour

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Dates: Saturday, May 11 to Sunday, May 26, 2019

Itinerary: Hong Kong, Xi'an, Chengdu, Deqin, Shangri-la, Kunming, Guangzhou.


noted especially for his views on the relation between natural and positive law. A convert to Catholicism, we was China’s first ambassador to the Holy See. Deeply imbued in Chinese spirituality, he translated the Dao De Jing for a Western audience. John Wu was a true renaissance man whose life and thought spanned eras and cultures.​

Prof. Gimello, a highly regarded scholar who has taught at Harvard, Stanford, and numerous other universities in the U.S. and abroad, was a student of Wu. He will address the enduring significance of Wu's thought and his relevance to today. 

The Logos and the Dao:
John C. H. Wu’s Catholic Witness
to China's Spiritual Traditions

Public talk: Santa Clara University Campus

Date: April 10 at 5:30 PM

Speaker: Prof. Robert Gimello, Notre Dame


John C. H. Wu (吳經熊), born in 1899, during the last years of the Qing Dynasty, was the principle author of the Constitution of the Republic of China. A diplomate of the University of Michigan Law School, and a correspondent of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Wu was an eminent practicing jurist in both China and the West,

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Since summer of 2016, reports of a possible warming of relations between China and the Vatican have circulated in the media. Here USCCA staff provide a review of developments and articles to note.

In the News: Rumors of a Sino-Vatican Rapprochement

Early in his pontificate, Pope Francis extended an olive branch to the leadership of the People’s Republic of China. China being one of the few places where symbolism takes on as great a significance as it does in Rome, the usual cognoscenti, joined by pundits of uneven familiarity with China, have taken note of every relevant development since in order to discern Beijing’s intentions in response. 

Then in August of 2016, Cardinal John Tong, at the time Bishop of Hong Kong, published an article* stating that the Chinese authorities were willing to reach an understanding with Rome concerning the appointment of bishops in China…


Director's Blog

Hope, Realism, and the Sino-Vatican Accord

Many people have weighed in on the discussions between the Holy See and Chinese authorities. Fr. Michael offers some key considerations for sorting through the varied opinions we encounter in the media. 

On the Thursday before word was released of an accord between the Holy See and Beijing on the appointment of Catholic bishops in China, a friend in Rome sent me a message: "Expect an announcement on Saturday - this time we move forward." And this time, the promised announcement in fact came, though the agreement has yet to be made public. Nonetheless, despite lack of full information, immediately it was both lauded and attacked - as cause for hope of Catholics in China, and cause for their despair; as a recognition of the authority of the Pope in the Church, and as undermining that authority; as upholding the independence of the Chinese Church from Rome, and as compromising the Chinese Constitution...


Voices from the Church of China

“What if…?” – Letter to the Graduates of Hebei Major Seminary from One of Their Esteemed Professors

by Sr. Lina Rong, Ph.D.

Sr. Lina Rong is a member of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Hope, based in Xian Xian, Hebei Province. After studying at Shaanxi Major Seminary and the Loyola School of Theology of the Ateneo de Manila, she earned a doctorate in Scripture at the Catholic University of America. She now teaches Biblical Studies at Hebei Catholic Major Seminary. At this year’s graduation ceremony at Hebei Seminary (which the USCCA 2018 study tour visited), she offered these words of encouragement to the young priests she helped educate. Sr. Lina has spoken at USCCA conferences in the past.

You could have been an eagle flying high in the sky, so do not be content with being a chicken foraging in the fields. Each of us has the responsibility to live as the best person we can be in the eyes of God...


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