In a letter addressed to all the cardinals, the dean of the Sacred College refuted the remarks made by Cardinal Joseph Zen placing responsibility with the current Secretary of State of the Holy See for a bad agreement made with China in 2018, the cause of the deterioration of the living conditions of Chinese Catholics. The Chinese prelate replied to his opponent.
It did not take long for the curial apparatus to fly to the aid of the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Piero Parolin, who was badly roughed up in the Chinese dossier.
On February 19, 2020, FSSPX.News had repeated the charges brought by Cardinal Joseph Zen, the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, against the head of Vatican diplomacy, accusing the latter of doing “bad things” and of having made the situation of Catholics in China untenable.
The scathing response arrived on February 26, 2020, in the form of a letter signed by the dean of the Sacred College, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re and addressed to all porporati.
The dean accuses the former bishop of Hong Kong of making statements which “do not correspond to the truth” and of having a position which is not that “shared by the last three popes.” “Cardinal Zen has affirmed several times that it would be better to have no Accord than a ‘bad Accord.’ The three last Popes did not share this position and supported and accompanied the drafting of the Accord that, at the present moment, seemed to be the only one possible,” writes Cardinal Re.
Regarding the agreement signed by the Vatican with Beijing on September 22, 2018 and that, according to Archbishop Zen, Pope Benedict XVI would have postponed a few years earlier, the dean of the Sacred College assures: “After having personally taken note of the existing documents in the Current Archive of the Secretariat of State, I am able to assure Your Eminence that Pope Benedict XVI had approved the draft of the Accord on the nomination of Bishops in China, which only in 2018 was it possible to sign.”
The intervention of Cardinal Zen, concludes Cardinal Re, “helps us to comprehend how difficult still is the path of the Church in China and how complex is the mission of pastors and of the Holy Father!”
It helps perhaps once again to understand to what extent the defense mechanisms are fully in play at the center of the curial apparatus and in the secretariat of state—Cardinal Re is a former member of this institution, very well versed in its secrets—from a dossier where the action of the Holy See is pointed out by many observers, worrying about the singular worsening of the situation of the millions of Catholics living in the Middle Empire.
As soon as the dean’s letter was published, Msgr. Carlo Maria Vigano, former nuncio to Washington, D.C., and a personality critical of the current pontificate, assured Cardinal Zen of his support, denouncing “the ignominious and shameful letter that Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re has addressed to all the cardinals against you.”
As for the Chinese prelate, he replied to the dean of the Sacred College, dismantling point by point the assertions of the latter, in a letter published on March 2, before concluding: “The last part of your letter seems rather confused to me. What I have to say is: the facts are there for everybody to see. I have strong evidence to believe that Parolin is manipulating the Holy Father,
… Wishing you more happy moments in your long service as Dean of the College of Cardinals.”
The weather is definitely stormy at the Vatican.