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By Cry of the Poor
It's with a very heavy heart that I write this article. However, after much prayer, I, in good conscience, can no longer keep silent. Since the Sept. 22 provisional agreement between the Holy See and the People's Republic of China, the crackdown of the underground Church has quickly escalated:
Throughout the country, underground priests are being coerced into joining the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA). Some have even received threats of imprisonment. Although this is nothing new, what’s different now is that Chinese Authorities are using the Holy Father's words against us. They're telling priests: "Your pope agrees with us. You must now join the 爱国会 (CCPA) or return home." Priests are now faced with an ultimatum: Either pledge loyalty to the Communist Party, or return home.
The underground Church will not disobey the Holy Father nor their legitimate authorities. However, they also will not go against their conscience. The underground priests that I've spoken with said that they would rather leave the institutional priesthood than join the CCPA.They, in good conscience, cannot obey an atheistic government dictating their religious activities. Also, what about the faithful? Who will minister to them? Does the Holy See foolishly think that underground Catholics will blindly follow Patriotic Association priests?
The work of foreign missionaries is now in jeopardy. In the past, the work of foreign missionaries has been "under the radar." The Chinese government probably knew about their mission but tolerated them to a certain extent. However, with the recent provisional agreement, many have begun to question their future in China. If they were forced to register their activities with the Chinese government, the majority will probably not receive government approval to stay in China.
Also, due to security reasons, a number of foreign missionaries have begun returning to their home countries. The Chinese government is intent on purging any foreign influence. Also, they continue to plan for the "Sinicization" of the Catholic Church.
The recent provisional agreements have plunged the underground Church into chaos. One underground bishop has begun the process of joining the CCPA. During his presbyteral council, his priests rebuked him. One priest stood up and said, "I am ready to die for my people! How about you, Your Excellency? Are you ready to die for your people?" The bishop cowered his head. The priest than responded, "You should be ashamed of yourself! You out of all people should be the first to offer your life for your people!"
Government authorities are telling underground priests that they are no longer permitted to have Holy Mass in family homes. In a few regions, the crackdown has gotten so bad that priests have begun turning the faithful away and telling them to stay home.
Young people are no longer allowed to attend Mass or Church activities. They're being told to leave their children at home and that the government was responsible for children's formation.
Limited sacraments. Recently, I visited an elderly woman in her 80s. She was very upset over the current situation and was in tears. She mentioned that two of her friends just recently passed away. She tried to find a priest to give them the last sacraments. Unfortunately, the priest that was serving her community was detained and wasn't able to give them the anointing of the sick or be at their burial. She's extremely worried, as she herself is gravely ill. Before I left, she told me, "Please don't abandon us! Please don't forget us!" It broke my heart to see her like that.
The list can go on and on. Recently, an orphanage for handicapped children was forced to close. An underground retreat house was also forced to close. And then, there are numerous churches, shrines, convents and graves that are being suppressed or ransacked — this in the name of the recent provisional agreement; this in the name of our Holy Father, Pope Francis!
Was this what the Holy Father envisioned when he signed the provisional agreement, to have the Communist government further its assault on our Church?
Was this what the Holy Father envisioned when he signed the provisional agreement, to have the Communist government further its assault on our Church? To have chaos and confusion among the clergy? Does he know that many in the underground Church are very angry and disheartened? Does he know that if this continues, there will be an exodus of priests and religious returning home, that there is a real risk of a schism with the Church in China?
With a sad heart, I implore the readers to assist the Church in China:
With your prayers and penance. Now more than ever, we are in desperate need of your prayers. The "Errors of Russia" are still alive and well, and we implore you to heed the words of Our Blessed Mother: "Pray for the conversion of Russia. Pray for China!"
For those in authority, please assist us in obtaining details on the provisional agreement. Chinese authorities are using the provisional authority and the Holy Father against us. We need to know the details of the agreement in order to better defend ourselves.
We need native Chinese clergy representing us. Who better to represent us than our people: those who understand our language, our culture and the Chinese government? Where was Cdl. Joseph Zen and Abp. Savio Hon during the agreement? They were left to the side. And for who? Then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick — a sexual predator who corrupted his seminarians and priests; Cardinal Pietro Parolin, whom Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò claims to have been "complicit in covering up the misdeeds of McCarrick"; Monsignor Anthony Figueiredo, a hit-and-run drunk driver who hit a five-month pregnant woman; Monsignor Carlo Capella, a former Vatican diplomat worked in Hong Kong for three years, and who was convicted of possessing a large quantity of child pornography. (Although Msgr. Capella may not have worked on this current deal, there nevertheless seems to be a pattern of morally compromised individuals working in Chinese-Vatican diplomacy).
Make our voices known! Please don't allow us to suffer in silence! Help us make our plight known to the world.
Our Lady of Fatima and St. Joseph, pray for us and protect us!