Cardinal Zen Pleads the Cause of the Clandestine Church in China

Source: FSSPX News

Cardinal Joseph Zen.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, met with the Holy Father on January 12, 2018, to plead the cause of the bishops of the clandestine Church, who could have to bear the consequences of a possible reconciliation between the Holy See and China.

The Chinese prelate mentioned the cases of Bishop Peter Zhuang of Shantou and Bishop Guo Xijin of Mindong, who received an order from Rome to leave their sees in order to pacify relations with the Chinese government.

The Cardinal explained to Asia News that he asked the Pope “if he had had time to look into the matter as he had promised” and if his collaborators were keeping him informed; and Francis answered, “like I already said, I do not want to create another Mindszenty case!” 

Cardinal Zen considered this answer reassuring: “a consolation.” Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty was the Metropolitan archbishop of Esztergom and primate of Hungary; he was persecuted under the communist regime. First condemned to life in prison after a Stalinian trial in 1949, then released during the 1956 insurrection, he took refuge at the US embassy when Soviet tanks came to reestablish the Socialist dictatorship. He remained there for fifteen years. Finally, in 1971, the Holy See negotiated his departure by means of a compromise during the Ostpolitik. The high-ranking prelate was even asked to renounce his charge as primate of the Church of Hungary, which Cardinal Mindszenty refused to do.

Cardinal Zen concluded from Francis’ comparison between his case and that of the Hungarian cardinal: “I would be more than happy to be the obstacle in the process of reaching a deal between the Vatican and China,” and “the important thing for us now is to pray for the Holy Father.”

The bishop emeritus of Hong Kong also gave his opinion on the motives for a hypothetical agreement between Rome and Beijing: according to the cardinal, the pope fears that the Church, divided in the face of the Chinese regime, will reach a breaking point.

Some say that all the efforts to reach an agreement (between China and the Holy See) is to avoid the ecclesial schism. How ridiculous! The schism is there, in the Independent Church (under the authority of Beijing)! The Popes avoided using the word ‘schism’ because they knew that many in the official Catholic community were there not by their own free will, but under heavy pressure.

This interview by the Chinese prelate drew a reaction from the Vatican. A statement published by the Holy See Press Office on January 30, 2018, explained: “The Pope is in constant contact with his collaborators, in particular in the Secretariat of State, on Chinese issues.” 

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, told Gianni Valente for Vatican Insider on January 31, 2018, “We trust that the Chinese faithful, thanks to their sense of faith, will know how to recognize that our action is animated by trust in the Lord and does not answer to worldly logic.”

Indeed. The fact remains that it there seems to have been an urgent need to reestablish a more diplomatic and accommodating climate with the Chinese government, which looks like a biting betrayal to the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong.