Hong Kong: Bishop Chow Vigorously Defends the Sino-Vatican Agreement

May 22, 2023
Source: fsspx.news
Msgr. Stephen Chow Sau-yan

In a lengthy interview with La Civiltà Cattolica, Msgr. Stephen Chow Sau-yan, SJ, Bishop of Hong Kong, says that about a third of the dioceses in mainland China are “awaiting their respective episcopal appointments,” but he defends the agreement between China and the Vatican.

The interview, granted to Fr. Spadaro, director of the newspaper, takes as its starting point the recent visit of Bishop Chow to the diocese of Beijing. He explains that “although since the establishment of the interim agreement an official channel has been established between the respective state departments of the Holy See and China, we consider our April 17 trip as a bridge, at the diocesan level, between Beijing and Hong Kong.”

Msgr. Chow points out that the Provisional Agreement in force between the Holy See and the People's Republic on the appointment of Chinese bishops “is not closed as some seem to have suggested. But the differences of opinion between the two parties on the assignment of bishops to other dioceses may be a factor that should be better understood.”

The Bishop of Hong Kong explains about the Sinicization that the Chinese government requires of the Catholic Church in China: “My impression is that the Church in mainland China is still trying to understand what sinicization should mean for her. So far, she has not come to a definitive conclusion.”

He adds that “according to one of the government officials we met on our trip, sinicization is similar to our concept of inculturation. So I think it's best not to jump to conclusions about sinicization just yet. It would be more useful to continue the dialogue on this subject.”

It is strange that the Bishop of Hong Kong endorses this interpretation, which is that of the Patriotic Association of Chinese Catholics (APCC), dependent on the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). But this may be explained by the fact that the current Bishop of Beijing, Msgr. Joseph Li-Shan, whom he has just visited, was elected last August as president of the ACPC.

Bishop Chow also reports that “many Catholics feel veneration for the Holy Father and appreciate what he is doing for the Church in China. The bishops I met during this trip are well disposed towards him. But those against the temporary deal appear to be prejudiced against Pope Francis.”

In other words, showing disagreement with the Church compromising itself with a communist regime that continues to persecute Catholics is, according to Bishop Chow, the fruit of a poor appreciation of the pope. His predecessor in the Hong Kong See, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun will probably appreciate…

The Bishop continued: “I would say that a large majority of Catholics in China are loyal to Pope Francis and hope that the temporary agreement will bring favorable changes to their Church, including a meeting between Pope Francis and President Xi. This observation is not really what most scholars of the situation of Catholics in China report.

Finally, Bishop Chow concludes: “The Chinese government has great respect for Pope Francis. Its members particularly appreciate his openness and inclusiveness. His love for humanity as a whole is believed to be in line with the values championed by President Xi when he wished for humanity to be a “community with a common future.”