Chinese Cardinal Slams Vatican Compromise

News: World News
by Stefan Farrar  •  •  November 4, 2016   

Urges Rome not to cave to China's demands on choosing bishops

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HONG KONG ( - Cardinal Joseph Zen is criticizing a possible agreement between China and Rome on choosing bishops. The former bishop of Hong Kong believes the Vatican is on course to make a major mistake, and warns that acquiescence to the Chinese government would lead to further repression of faithful Catholics.

Zen said, "[The] underground Church is evangelizing very well. Also in the official Church there are so many good people. They are not afraid. Why should you surrender?"

The crux of Zen's disagreement with the Vatican revolves around an upcoming deal that could resolve the decades'-long disagreement between China and Rome over who gets to select bishops. The disagreement goes back to Chairman Mao Tse-Tung's banishing of Vatican officials from China, and his establishment of the state-backed Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which toes the state party line, appoints bishops and isn't officially in union with Rome. Although the Vatican, as of late, has accepted most of these bishops, the official position is that the state-run association is illegitimate and "incompatible with Catholic doctrine"

If the deal goes through, the selection and approval of bishops would be a three-step process. This process would include "first, the selection of priest candidates by China's Religious Affairs authorities; second, the Vatican's approval of candidates; and third, the consecration and installation of these bishops into Chinese dioceses."

In response to this, Zen says, "You are not bound to join the Patriotic Association. You can pray at home if you lose your churches. An underground priest who loses his flock can go home and till the soil. You're still a priest anyway. So wait for better times. But don't rebel against the pope."

Zen has also criticized some at the Vatican for saying this agreement is necessary to preserve the Church, Her hierarchy and the sacraments in China. "I would prefer no bishops," he remarked. "With fake bishops you are destroying the Church."

He has also criticized Pope Francis' approach, alleging that Francis is ignorant of the real dangers. "Pope Francis has no real knowledge of communism," he claimed.

Zen argues that Francis' history in Argentina, where rightwing dictators ruled the day and communists were seen as heroes helping the poor, is one of the reasons why Francis has encouraged dialogue with communist nations like China and Cuba.

"So the Holy Father knew the persecuted communists, not the communist persecutors," Zen commented. "He knew the communists killed by the government, not the communist governments who killed thousands and hundreds of thousands of people."

The potential agreement between the Chinese government and Rome has yet to be ratified, but both sides are closer to agreement than at any other time in history.


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