NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Vatican's sellout of the underground Church in China, Abp. Viganò's revelations, as well as the social and moral decline of the West were all topics of an exclusive interview with Cdl. Joseph Zen, who explained how the situation in China has worsened since Church Militant spoke with him in July 2019.
Church Militant sat down with Cdl. Zen on Saturday in New York before the Pontifical Mass for the third annual Lepanto Conference.
Asked about the state of the Catholic Church in China, his eminence said, "We are really at the bottom."
Zen explained the "official" church follows the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), while the underground Church follows the Pope, explaining many members of the "official" church were simply born into it but "in their hearts, they are just like all of us."
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Nevertheless, he said, the underground Church is the healthier one — the authentic one, and though faithful to the Holy See, the Holy See has not been faithful to them because of Vatican prelates with an agenda contrary to the mission of the Church. "There is a group of power in the Holy See ... they think they know better," said the cardinal.
The group was unable to realize its wishes under Benedict XVI because he did not follow them, but now "Pope Francis follows them," said Zen.
One of the main prelates at the helm of this rock-bottom situation is Cdl. Pietro Parolin, whom Zen sadly concluded "is not a man of faith."
More sympathetic to the CCP than Catholics faithful to the pope, the current prelates in power have, in three steps, worsened the plight for the underground Church in China. Zen explained:
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.
The cardinal explained these actions as "a total sellout" of the underground Church.
On the first day of February, a new set of rules by the Regulations on Religious Affairs, an arm of the CCP, went into effect. Zen explained these were mostly old rules, but the CCP is emboldened now and enforcing these rules.
"The most terrible article is that people under 18 years of age cannot join any religious activity. They are not allowed into the Church — terrible," said his eminence.
Prayer, he said, is essential for combating this terrible state of the Catholic Church in China: "The most important thing is to pray because we believe the only hope is from Heaven."
Zen mentioned devotion to Our Lady Help of Christians as part of those prayers.
"But the second thing, I think, is to get the right information," he said.
Talking about the West, Zen said Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò's revelations about corruption at the Church's highest levels "exposed facts." Those facts must be contradicted by other facts or answered as facts, he urged.
"I think people, including Pope Francis, should answer the facts," said Zen.
The failure of Pope Francis and the Holy See to answer these facts on the level of facts means, "[we] are still in doubt," he explained.
Talking about the term "Church Militant," the cardinal said it is true we are a pilgrim Church, "but it is also true that we are a militant Church; we have to fight."
"Some say, 'We don't have enemies.' Okay, if you mean we don't treat anybody like an enemy, but we have enemies. They fight us. We have to defend ourselves," he added.
Zen agreed the West is in a state of decline. He gave a straightforward reason why: "Instead of following the gospel, people follow the world."