Cardinal Zen Refutes China Apologist

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by William Mahoney, Ph.D.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  May 6, 2020   

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HONG KONG (ChurchMilitant.com) - Cardinal Joseph Zen has defended Cdl. Charles Bo against criticism for his position on China's responsibility over the Wuhan virus.

On Wednesday, emeritus archbishop of Hong Kong, Cdl. Joseph Zen, published a piece in support of Myanmar cardinal Charles Bo of the Yangon archdiocese. Bo was attacked for his position on the Wuhan virus by Michel Chambon, whom Sojourners describes as "a Catholic theologian and anthropologist [who] studies the growth of Protestantism in China."

In early April, UCA News published Bo's article titled "The Chinese regime and its moral culpability for COVID-19," in which he maintained the "Chinese Communist Party's (CCP's) repression, lies and corruption are responsible for this global crisis."

Later the same month, UCA News published Chambon's response article titled "Cardinal Bo Spits in China's Face," in which he says Bo's assessment is "inaccurate,""dangerously political" and "surprisingly divisive."

Cdl. Zen Refutes Michel Chambon

"Cardinal Charles Bo made a dramatic intervention in the international debate about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic (UCA News April 2), laying the primary responsibility squarely on the door of [the] Chinese Communist Party," Cdl. Zen begins his write-up, adding Bo's "courage surprised me, but the article is very accurate and fair."

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Cdl. Charles Bo (Photo: Archdiocese of Yangon)

Chambon prefaced his response by saying as "a French theologian and an anthropologist studying the Church in China, I feel obliged to speak up as well."

But in response to Chambon's reason for entering the discussion, Zen said, "I could not find anything theological in the article of this 'theologian,' with such an emotional title, and its content is gratuitous and even self-contradictory."

Zen goes on to show how Chambon illogically criticizes Bo for being inaccurate regarding points on which the two actually agree.  

Chambon says, "I agree with Cdl. Bo that lies and propaganda have put millions of lives around the world in danger," which Zen points out is "precisely the main substance of Cdl. Bo's article."

Chambon said China cannot be wholly blamed because "Western governments are also responsible" for refusing "to take (the available information) seriously." But Zen highlights how Bo agreed in his piece "Criticisms can be made of authorities everywhere, many governments are accused of failing to prepare when they first saw the coronavirus emerge in Wuhan."

Bo argued China has primary responsibility for suppressing the news and silencing the whistleblower.

Bo argued China has primary responsibility for suppressing the news and silencing the whistleblower, which triggered Chambon to claim Bo is "politically dividing the world." 

"That is gratuitous," responds Zen. "The one who inflicts calamity on people, and his victims are rightly put on two opposed sides of the division, but there is nothing political in this."

The most "astonishing statement in Chambon's article," according to Zen,  is the claim that "[i]nsulting the China regime is also spitting in the face of the nation which supports it."

"Anybody with a little knowledge of China," responds Zen, "would laugh at it and consider the time wasted in reading this 'theologian' and 'anthropologist studying the Church in China.'"


"With people like Michel Chambon there would never have been a French Revolution," concludes Zen. 

'For Love of My People'

Unlike Chambon, who felt obliged to speak up as a "theologian and an anthropologist studying the Church in China," Cdl. Zen speaks up for the love of his people as a well-studied Chinese Catholic and prelate.  

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Cdl. Zen is outspoken in confronting tyranny 

His book, titled For Love of My People I Will Not Remain Silent: On the Situation of the Church in China, details the situation of the underground Catholic Church.

Zen strongly opposes the CCP, its recent dealings with Hong Kong and the Vatican's "selling out" of the underground faithful. 

"For many years, even as a colony, we enjoyed freedom," Zen told The Tablet in February. "They promised there was going to be 'one country, two systems.' They promised we were going to have a great degree of autonomy. But then they back off on their promises, so now we are in danger of becoming just one more city in China."

"They want to take away our freedom of speech and that is terrible, so we are really fighting," Zen continued. "We really hope our leaders would remember all the promises. What is happening is simply foolish. We hope God will wake them up."

In an interview with Church Militant, Zen explained the steps that led to the Vatican's "selling out" of the underground Church:

The first step was that secret agreement [Vatican-China agreement reached in September 2018] for the selection of bishops, and then the legitimization of the seven excommunicated bishops — asking the legitimate underground bishops to step down — and then, last June came out that document — the so-called pastoral guidance encouraging people to join the [Catholic] Patriotic Association [government-run church]. 

Persecution of the underground Church continues to escalate as the CCP attempts to gain total control. Zen asks people to stay informed with good information to inform their prayers.  

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