在羅馬我見過亞洲通訊的貝納德（B. Cervellera）神父和他談了我來羅馬的目的，但我請他不要寫任何新聞，他答應了。但現在既然另有人向他詳細報告了汕頭的事情，我也不介意肯定那報告是正確的（至於那報告中說「相信」那位率領教廷到北京見莊主教一組人的那位主教是克勞迪奧‧瑪利亞‧切利（Claudio Maria Celli），我不知道他以什麼身份參與了這事，但我也有理由「相信」那人正是切利總主教）。
目下我們該做的是為教宗祈禱。傳統的那支 “Oremus” 特別適用。
“Oremus pro Pontifice Nostro Francisco. Dominus conservet eum et vivificet eum et beatum faciat eum in terra et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum ejus.”
Open Letter by Cardinal Zen (English)
Monday, 29 January, 2018
Dear Friends in the Media,
Since AsiaNews has revealed some recent facts in the Church in mainland China, of legitimate bishops being asked by the “Holy See” to resign and make place for illegitimate, even explicitly excommunicated, “bishops”, many different versions of the facts and interpretations are creating confusion among the people. Many, knowing of my recent trip to Rome, are asking me for some clarification.
Back in October, when Bishop Zhuang received the first communication from the Holy See and asked me for help, I send someone to bring his letter to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, with, enclosed, a copy for the Holy Father. I don’t know if that enclosed copy reached the desk of the Holy Father. Fortunately, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai was still in Rome and could meet the Pope in a fare-well visit. In that occasion, he brought the two cases of Shantou and Mindong to the knowledge of the Holy Father. The Holy Father was surprised and promised to look into the matter.
Given the words of the Holy Father to Archbishop Savio Hon, the new facts in December were all the more a shocking surprise to me. When the old distressed Bishop Zhuang asked me to bring to the Holy Father his answer to the message conveyed to him by the “Vatican Delegation” in Beijing, I simply could not say “No”. But what could I do to make sure that his letter reach the Holy Father, while not even I can be sure that my own many letters did reach him.
To make sure that our voice reached the Holy Father, I took the sudden decision of going to Rome. I left Hong Kong the night of 9th January, arriving in Rome the early morning of 10th January, just in time (actually, a bit late) to join the Wednesday Public Audience. At the end of the audience, we Cardinals and Bishops are admitted to the “bacia mano” and I had the chance to put into the hands of the Holy Father the envelop, saying that I was coming to Rome for the only purpose of bringing to him a letter of Bishop Zhuang, hoping he can find time to read it (in the envelop there was the original letter of the Bishop in Chinese with my translation into Italian and a letter of mine).
For obvious reasons, I hoped my appearance at the audience would not be too much noticed, but my late arrival in the hall made it particularly noticeable. Anyway, now everybody can see the whole proceeding from the Vatican TV (by the way, the audience was held in Paul VI Hall, not in St. Peter’s Square and I was a little late to the audience, but did not have to “wait in a queue, in a cold weather”, as some media erroneously reported).
When in Rome, I met Fr. Bernard Cervellera of AsiaNews. We exchanged our information, but I told him not to write anything. He complied. Now that someone else broke the news, I can agree to confirm it. Yes, as far as I know, things happened just as they are related in AsiaNews (the AsiaNews report “believes” that the Bishop leading the Vatican Delegation was Msgr. Celli. I do not know in what official capacity he was there, but it is most likely that he was the one there in Beijing).
In this crucial moment and given the confusion in the media, I, knowing directly the situation of Shantou and indirectly that of Mindong, feel duty-bound to share my knowledge of the facts, so that the people sincerely concerned with the good of the Church may know the truth to which they are entitled. I am well aware that in doing so I may talk about things which, technically, are qualified as “confidential”. But my conscience tells me that in this case the “right to truth” should override any such “duty of confidentiality”.
With such conviction, I am going to share with you also the following:
In the afternoon of that day, 10th January, I received a phone-call from Santa Marta telling me that the Holy Father would receive me in private audience in the evening of Friday 12thJanuary (though the report appeared only on 14th January in the Holy See bulletin). That was the last day of my 85 years of life, what a gift from Heaven! (Note that it was the vigil of the Holy Father’s departure for Chile and Peru, so the Holy Father must have been very busy).
On that evening the conversation lasted about half an hour. I was rather disorderly in my talking, but I think I succeeded to convey to the Holy Father the worries of his faithful children in China.
The most important question I put to the Holy Father (which was also in the letter) was whether he had had time “to look into the matter” (as he promised Archbishop Savio Hon). In spite of the danger of being accused of breach of confidentiality, I decide to tell you what His Holiness said: “Yes, I told them (his collaborators in the Holy See) not to create another Mindszenty case”! I was there in the presence of the Holy Father representing my suffering brothers in China. His words should be rightly understood as of consolation and encouragement more for them than for me.
I think it was most meaningful and appropriate for the Holy Father to make this historical reference to Card. Josef Mindszenty, one of the heroes of our faith. (Card. Josef Mindszenty was the Archbishop of Budapest, Cardinal Primate of Hungary under Communist persecution. He suffered much in several years in prison. During the short-lived revolution of 1956, he was freed from prison by the insurgents and, before the Red Army crashed the revolution, took refuge in the American Embassy. Under the pressure of the Government he was ordered by the Holy See to leave his country and immediately a successor was named to the likings of the Communist Government).
With this revelation, I hope I have satisfied the legitimate “right to know” of the media and of my brothers in China.
The important thing for us now is to pray for the Holy Father, very fittingly by singing the traditional song “Oremus”:
Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Francisco, Dominus conservet eum et vivificet eum et beatum faciat eum in terra et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius.
Some explanations may still be in order.
- Please, notice that the problem is not the resignation of the legitimate Bishops, but the request to make place for the illegitimate and even excommunicated ones. Many old underground Bishops, though the retirement age law has never been enforced in China, have insistently asked for a successor, but have never received any answer from the Holy See. Some others, who have a successor already named, may be even already in possession of the Bulla signed by the Holy Father, were ordered not to proceed with the ordination for fear of offending the Government.
I have talked mainly of the two cases of Shantou and Mindong. I do not have any other information except the copy of a letter written by an outstanding Catholic lady, a retired University professor well-acquainted with affairs of the Church in China, in which she warns Msgr. Celli against pushing for the legitimization of “bishop” Lei Shi Ying in Sichuan.
I acknowledge myself as a pessimist regarding the present situation of the Church in China, but my pessimism has a foundation in my long direct experience of the Church in China. From 1989 to 1996 I used to spend six months a year teaching in the various Seminaries of the official Catholic community. I had direct experience of the slavery and humiliation to which those our brother Bishops are subjected.
And from the recent information, there is no reason to change that pessimistic view. The Communist Government is making new harsher regulations limiting religious freedom. They are now strictly enforcing regulations which up to now were practically only on paper (from the 1st of February 2018 attendance to Mass in the underground will no longer be tolerated).
- Some say that all the efforts to reach an agreement is to avoid the ecclesial schism. How ridiculous! The schism is there, in the Independent Church! 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. The proposed “unification” would force everybody into that community. The Vatican would be giving the blessing on the new strengthened schismatic Church, taking away the bad conscience from all those who are already willing renegades and those others who would readily join them.
Is it not good to try to find mutual ground to bridge the decades-long divide between the Vatican and China? But can there be anything really “mutual” with a totalitarian regime? Either you surrender or you accept persecution, but remaining faithful to yourself (can you imagine an agreement between St. Joseph and King Herod?)
So, do I think that the Vatican is selling out the Catholic Church in China? Yes, definitely, if they go in the direction which is obvious from all what they are doing in recent years and months.
Some expert on the Catholic Church in China is saying that it is not logical to suppose a harsher religious policy from Xi Jinping. However, we are not talking about logical thinking, but the obvious and crude reality.
Am I the major obstacle in the process of reaching a deal between the Vatican and China? If that is a bad deal, I would be more than happy to be the obstacle.
With reference to widespread news on a presumed difference of thought and action between the Holy Father and his collaborators in the Roman Curia on issues relating to China, I am able to state the following:
“The Pope is in constant contact with his collaborators, in particular in the Secretariat of State, on Chinese issues, and is informed by them faithfully and in detail on the situation of the Catholic Church in China and on the steps in the dialogue in progress between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China, which he follows with special attention. It is therefore surprising and regrettable that the contrary is affirmed by people in the Church, thus fostering confusion and controversy”
Parolin, “Why we are in dialogue with China” (英文版)
Several signals (including opaque operations, actual political manipulations, and even sabotage) indicate that important developments may occur in contacts between the Holy See and the Government of the People’s Republic of China. The time is right to listen to an authoritative word, which will help to grasp what the Pope and the Holy See really have at heart. And with our Chinese brothers and sisters in mind, help to dispel suspicions and artificial fumes, to look at the ecclesial heart of the whole question, outside politicized narratives. For this reason, Vatican Insider interviewed Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of His Holiness.
Eminence, what can you tell us about the dialogue between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China?
“As it is well known, with the advent of “New China", there were, for the life of the Church in that great country, moments of serious contrasts and severe suffering. Since the eighties, however, contacts have been established between representatives of the Holy See and of People’s China, who have known different seasons and alternating events. The Holy See has always maintained a pastoral approach, trying to overcome the contrasts and making itself available for a respectful and constructive dialogue with the civil authorities. Pope Benedict XVI well represented the spirit of this dialogue in his 2007 Letter to Chinese Catholics, “the solution to existing problems cannot be pursued via an ongoing conflict with the legitimate civil authorities " (n. 4). In Pope Francis’ pontificate, the ongoing negotiations move exactly along these lines: constructive openness to dialogue and fidelity to the genuine Tradition of the Church".
Q: What are the concrete expectations of the Holy See from this dialogue?
“First of all, I would like to make a premise: in China, perhaps more than elsewhere, Catholics have been able to preserve, despite the many difficulties and sufferings, the authentic deposit of faith, keeping firmly the bond of hierarchical communion between the Bishops and the Successor of Peter, as a visible guarantee of faith itself. In fact, communion between the Bishop of Rome and all Catholic Bishops touches the heart of the Church’s unity: it is not a private matter between the Pope and the Chinese Bishops or between the Apostolic See and civil authorities. Having said that, the main purpose of the Holy See in the ongoing dialogue is precisely that of safeguarding communion within the Church, in the wake of genuine Tradition and constant ecclesiastical discipline. You see, in China there are not two Churches, but two communities of faithful called to follow a gradual path of reconciliation towards unity. It is not, therefore, a matter of maintaining a perennial conflict between opposing principles and structures, but of finding realistic pastoral solutions that allow Catholics to live their faith and to continue together the work of evangelization in the specific Chinese context".
Q: The communion of which you have spoken calls into question the delicate issue of the episcopal appointments, which are stirring up much controversy. Will a potential agreement on this issue succeed in resolving the problems of the Church in China in a fair manner?
“The Holy See knows and shares the serious sufferings endured by many Catholics in China and their generous witness to the Gospel. She knows that there are many problems for the life of the Church and that they cannot all be solved together. But, in this context, the question of the appointment of Bishops is crucial. On the other hand, we cannot forget that the freedom of the Church and the appointment of Bishops have always been recurring themes in the relations between the Holy See and the States. Certainly, the path started with China through the current contacts is gradual and still exposed to many unforeseen events, as well as new possible emergencies. No one can say in conscience that they have perfect solutions for all problems. Time and patience are needed to heal the many personal wounds inflicted on each other within the communities. Unfortunately, it is certain that there will still be misunderstandings, fatigue and suffering to be faced. But we all have confidence that, once the issue of the Episcopal appointments has been adequately considered, the remaining difficulties should no longer be such as to prevent Chinese Catholics from living in communion with each other and with the Pope. This is the important thing, so long-awaited and desired already by Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI and today pursued with far-sightedness by Pope Francis".
Q: What is then the true attitude of the Holy See towards Chinese authorities?
“It is important to reiterate this: in dialogue with China, the Holy See pursues a spiritual aim: to be and feel fully Catholic and, at the same time, authentically Chinese. With honesty and realism, the Church asks nothing but to profess her faith with more serenity, definitively ending a long period of contrasts, in order to give more room for greater trust and offer the positive contribution of Catholics to the good of Chinese society as a whole. Of course, many wounds are still open today. To treat them, we need to use the balm of mercy. And if someone is asked to make a sacrifice, small or great, it must be clear to everyone that this is not the price of a political exchange, but falls within the evangelical perspective of a greater good, the good of the Church of Christ. The hope is that, when God wills it, we won’t have to speak of “legitimate" and “illegitimate" Bishops, “clandestine" and “official" Bishops in the Church in China, but about meeting among brothers and sisters, learning the language of collaboration and communion again. Without this experience, how could the Church in China re-launch the journey of evangelization and bring to others the consolation of the Lord? If you are not ready to forgive, this means, unfortunately, that there are other interests to defend: but this is not an evangelical perspective".
Q: If this is the attitude, is there not the risk of erasing the past and present suffering by wiping the slate clean?
“Quite the contrary. Many Chinese Christians, when they celebrate their martyrs who have suffered unjust trials and persecutions, remember that they have been able to rely on God, even in their fragile humanity. Now, the best way to honor this testimony and make it fruitful in the present, is to entrust the present life of Catholic communities in China to the Lord Jesus. But this cannot be done in a spiritualistic and disembodied way. This is done by choosing fidelity to the Successor of Peter, with a spirit of filial obedience, even when not everything appears immediately clear and understandable. About your question, it is not a matter of wiping the slate clean, ignoring or, almost magically erasing the painful path of so many faithful and pastors, but of investing the human and spiritual capital of so many trials to build a more serene and fraternal future, with the help of God. The Spirit who has so far guarded the faith of Chinese Catholics is the same Spirit who supports them today on the new path they have embarked upon".
Q: Is there an advice, a particular request that the Apostolic See can address to the Chinese faithful at this moment? To those who are happy before potential new developments, but also to those who are confused or have objections?
“I would like to say with great simplicity and clarity that the Church will never forget the past and present trials and sufferings of Chinese Catholics. All this is a great treasure for the universal Church. Therefore, to the Chinese Catholics I say with great fraternity: we are close to you, not only through prayer, but also through our daily commitment to accompany and support you on the path of full communion. We ask you, therefore, that no one should cling to the spirit of opposition to condemn his brother or use the past as an excuse to stir up new resentments and closures. On the contrary, we hope that each one will look with confidence at the future of the Church, beyond any human limit".
Q: Your Eminence, do you really believe that this is possible? What is your trust based on?
“I am convinced of one thing. Trust is not the result of the strength of diplomacy or negotiations. Trust is based on the Lord who guides history. We trust that the Chinese faithful, thanks to their sense of faith, will know how to recognize that the action of the Holy See is animated by this trust, which does not respond to worldly logics. It is especially up to the pastors to help the faithful to recognize in the Pope’s guidance the sure reference point for grasping God’s plan in the present circumstances".
Q: Is the Pope informed of what his collaborators do in their contacts with the Chinese government?
“Yes, the Holy Father personally follows current contacts with the authorities of the People’s Republic of China. All his collaborators act in concert with him. No one takes private initiatives. Frankly, any other kind of reasoning seems to me to be out of place."
Q: In recent times, critical expressions have emerged, also within the Church, about the approach adopted by the Holy See in dialogue with the Chinese Authorities, judged by some as a true “surrender" for political reasons. What do you think?
“I think, first of all, that in the Church there is a full right to disagree and to tell one’s own criticisms, and that the Holy See has a moral duty to listen to them and to evaluate them carefully. I am also convinced that, among Christians, criticism should be directed at building communion and not at stirring up divisions. To be frank, I will tell you: I am also convinced that part of the suffering experienced by the Church in China is not so much due to the will of individuals as to the objective complexity of the situation. Therefore, it is legitimate to have different views over the most appropriate responses to the problems of the past and present. That is entirely reasonable. Having said that, I think that no personal point of view can be considered as an exclusive interpreter of what is good for Chinese Catholics. Therefore, the Holy See works to find a synthesis of truth and a practicable way to respond to the legitimate expectations of the faithful, inside and outside China. It takes greater humility and spirit of faith to discover together God’s plan for the Church in China. It takes greater caution and moderation on the part of everyone in order not to fall into sterile polemics that hurt communion and rob our hope for a better future".
Q: What do you mean?
“I mean that we are all called to distinguish more appropriately the spiritual and pastoral dimension from that of politics. Let us start, for example, with the words we use every day. Expressions such as power, betrayal, resistance, surrender, confrontation, failure, compromise, should make room for others, such as service, dialogue, mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation, collaboration, communion. If you are not prepared to change this approach, there is a serious problem: taht of thinking and acting only politically. In this regard, the Holy See hopes for everyone a sincere pastoral conversion inspired by the Gospel of mercy, in order to learn to welcome one another among brothers and sisters, as Pope Francis has often called for".
Q: What would you say to the Chinese leaders today?
“Look, on this point I would like to refer again to Benedict XVI’s words in his Letter to the Chinese Catholics. He teaches that the mission proper to the Church is not to change the structures or administration of the State, but to proclaim to mankind Christ, the Savior of the world, relying on the power of God. The Church in China does not want to replace the state, but wants to make a positive and serene contribution for the good of all. Therefore, the Holy See’s message is a message of goodwill, with the hope of continuing the dialogue undertaken in order to contribute to the life of the Catholic Church in China, to the good of the Chinese people and to World peace".
陳日君樞機—— 答覆幾位記者朋友關於梵蒂岡國務院昨天發出的「聲明」/ Cardinal Zen: My “over-all” answer to questions put to me by friends in the media, after the Press release by the Holy See (or the Secretariate of State?) (中文版 & English)
My “over-all” answer to questions put to me by friends in the media, after the Press release by the Holy See (or the Secretariate of State?).
The Press release includes 3 statements:
- The Pope knows what “they” are doing.
- The Pope approves what they are doing.
- My article causes confusion and controversy.
(1) I did not say that the Pope doesn’t know what they are doing. But, as a matter of fact, the Pope did tell Archbishop Savio “why that Commission has not conferred with me?”
(2) I did mean that there is difference between what they are doing and the mind of the Holy Father. Now the Declaration denies that. That means they accuse me to be a liar.
I accuse them of doing bad things (wrong things?) but not to be liars. Now people have to make up their mind: who, I or they, must be liar.
If the point (2) is what they are actually most interested in, then they are making the Holy Father responsible for all their evil doings, which is precisely what I tried to prevent.
I was well aware that my article would cause controversy, but my hope is that the controversy may bring to a good conclusion: an agreement that the things “they” are doing are bad (wrong ?), and consequently they must change direction.
Non è decente per un alto ufficiale della Santa Sede manipolare la lettera di un Papa, anche se già ritirato, citando la frese (4.7): “la soluzione dei problemi esistenti non può essere perseguita attraverso un permanente conflitto con le legittime Autorità civili” nascondendo che la lettera segue immediatamente dicendo“nello stesso tempo, però, non è accettabile un’arrendevolezza alle medesime quando esse interferiscano indebitamente in materie che riguardano la fede e la disciplina della Chiesa.”
教宗方濟各在亞洲青年日，在韓國，對亞洲主教們也說了「對話的第一個條件是要忠於自己的本質（Coherence to one’s own identity）。
既然我已決定以真理及公義為優先價值（我所說的都是為了保護教宗的聲譽及給大家澄清教會的道理），我也不妨告訴大家：三年前我得到教宗方濟各私人接見。我用了四十分鐘向他報告了我對「對話」的看法，教宗留心聽了我四十分鐘，沒有打斷我，祇有當我說「大陸地上教會客觀來說已是裂教（獨立自辦，政府辦教）」，教宗說：「當然啦！」（“Certo!” “of course”）。
(三) 昨天不少人親身或電話來「安慰我」，因為我被教廷發言人痛駡了。這又是一個大誤會，我絕不需要同情，不如讓我們一齊去安慰那發言人吧！他才是籠中鳥，被逼擔任這麼尷尬的職務：這次他這麼有效率，第一時間對我的言論作了批評（當然是別人寫了，他讀出來的）。但一年多前，國內開第九屆中國天主教代表大會前，他不是說「看了大會確切的事實後才會作出判斷」嗎？（“Holy See is waiting for hard facts before it makes a judgment” “La Santa Sede attende di giudicare in base a fatti comprovati.”）已一年多了，我們還在等着那判斷哩！
(四) 南華早報的那評論員A. L.也很值得同情，他每天都要找個對象來批評、來諷刺，他該是萬能博士（能談論de omnibus et aliquibus aliis, 所有的題目，還有另外的一些。）他那天寫了文章說我喜歡政治多過宗教。我想提醒他 “Where angels fear to tread, the fools rush in”，他懂什麼是宗教？什麼是信德嗎？他說我決定要大陸的信友受苦，他懂得：為有信德的人什麼才是真的痛苦嗎？不過他最後一句話倒說對了：“The Vatican has to readjust its wordly diplomacy, whatever its spiritual preferences.” 不過，那些不祇是preferences，是not-negotiable principles!
陳日君樞機——我還是不明白他們為什麼要和中國對話 (中文版) 2018.02.18
在榮休教宗的信函裡有這一段（8.10）：「 有些主教因不願屈服於那加在教會生活上不當的控制，且為了完全忠於伯多祿的繼承人和忠於天主教的道理，被迫秘密地接受了祝聖。秘密狀態並非教會生活常規。歷史告訴我們，教會牧者和信友們只有當迫切渴望維護自身信仰的完整性，以及在教會生活的切身部份，不願接受國家機構干涉時，才會這樣做。」韓德力神父（Jeroom Heyndrickx）斷章取義地引用了「秘密狀態並非教會生活常規」，在國內宣揚這樣一句話作為他的使命：「地下團體不該再存在，所有人都必須公開，成為受政府控制的教會團體的一部分。」
b） 在第6段中他說過：（引用《天主是愛Deus Caritas Est》通諭）「教會不能、也不應該代替國家。但同時，也不能、不應該置身於為正義而奮鬥的範圍之外。」
若果有一天與中國不好的協議簽署了，這顯然是得到教宗的批准，那麼我會默默退出，過「隱修的生活」。作為鮑思高的一個兒子（即使不堪當），我絕不會出來帶頭反對羅馬教宗 ── 基督的在世代表。
Cardinal Zen: I still don’t understand why they are in dialogue with China (English) 2018.02.17
A response to “Why we are in dialogue with China”, the interview that His Eminence Cardinal Parolin gave to Gianni Valente (that is, an interview cooked up between the two).
I read the interview several times, now I read it again (even if the reading repels me) in order to honestly make my comments.
I am grateful to His Eminence for recognizing that “it is legitimate to have different opinions”.
First of all, we note the insistence with which His Eminence affirms that his point of view and the purpose of his activities are of a pastoral, spiritual, evangelical and faith-based nature, while our thinking and acting is only in a political key.
What we see instead is that he venerates the Ostpolitik diplomacy of his master Casaroli and despises the genuine faith of those who firmly defend the Church founded by Jesus on the Apostles from any interference by secular power.
I will never forget my amazement at reading a report in the Osservatore Romano a few years ago on a speech that he had given where he describes the heroes of the faith in the central European countries under the communist regime (Card. Wyszynsky, Card. Mindszenty and Card. Beran, without mentioning them) as “gladiators”, “people systematically opposed to the government and eager to appear on the political stage”.
We also note the repeated mention of his compassion for the suffering of our brothers and sisters in China. Crocodile tears! What suffering is he talking about? He knows very well that they are not afraid of poverty, nor the limitation or deprivation of liberty, nor even the loss of life. But he has absolutely no respect for all of this at all (they are “gladiators”!)
He also speaks of wounds that are still open and his intention to treat them by applying “the balm of mercy”. But what wounds is he talking about?
Towards the end of the interview, at one point he says: “To be frank, I will tell you: I am also convinced that part of the suffering experienced by the Church in China is not so much due to the will of individuals as to the objective complexity of the situation”.
So he knows very well that in the Church in China it is not (if not infrequently) a case of personal offenses or resentments, but persecution by an atheistic totalitarian power. Use the balm of mercy? It is not a question of personal offenses to be forgiven. It is a slavery from which to free oneself.
Mercy for the persecutors? For their accomplices? Rewarding traitors? Castigating the faithful? Forcing a legitimate bishop to give way to an excommunicated one? It this not more like rubbing salt on these still open wounds?
Let us return to the “objective situation”. The painful state was not created by us, but by the regime. The communists want to enslave the Church. There are those who refuse this enslavement, there are those who suffer, unfortunately there are those who embrace it.
Faced with this reality is it possible not to speak of “power, resistance, conflict, compromise, giving in, surrender, betrayal”?
Parolin wants us to talk about communion and collaboration. But are the conditions right? Where is this unity? How can we collaborate? Thus, we must analyse the two fundamental points that need clarification.
What is the unity you want to achieve?
a) His Eminence praises Chinese Catholics and states that “there are not two Catholic Churches in China”. If I’m not mistaken, I was the first to affirm this at a meeting of the Synod of Bishops, because, in both communities, the faithful in their hearts are loyal to the Pope (today with the increasing number of opportunists in the community run by the Government I no longer dare to apply this affirmation to the entire Church in China).
But Parolin cannot deny that, for the moment, there are two communities with two structures based on two different, opposing principles. One structure is founded on the principle of the Primacy of Peter on which Jesus established his Church, the other structure is imposed by an atheistic government intent on creating a schismatic Church subject to its power.
b) Eliminating this division and achieving unity must be the desire of every Catholic, but not with one wave of a magic wand, let alone by manipulating the Letter of Pope Benedict.
In the Letter by Pope Emeritus there is this paragraph (8.10): “Some (bishops), not wishing to be subjected to undue control exercised over the life of the Church, and eager to maintain total fidelity to the Successor of Peter and to Catholic doctrine, have felt themselves constrained to opt for clandestine consecration. The clandestine condition is not a normal feature of the Church’s life, and history shows that Pastors and faithful have recourse to it only amid suffering, in the desire to maintain the integrity of their faith and to resist interference from State agencies in matters pertaining intimately to the Church’s life. “Father Jeroom Heyndrickx citing out of context the phrase “the clandestine condition is not a normal feature of the Church’s life,” has made it his mission to spread the word throughout China (where he enjoyed great freedom of movement): “there should be no more underground communities, everyone must come to the open and become part of the community subject to the Government”.
In the Commission for the Church in China we pointed out this grave error, but both the Secretariat of State and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples ignored this warning, obviously supporting Father Heyndrickx’ theory.
It was only two years later, when this mistake had already done immense damage, that we managed to include some notes in the “Compendium” booklet to try to distinguish the reconciliation of hearts from unity in structures.
c) Parolin says that one should not maintain “a perennial conflict between opposing principles and structures”. But obviously this does not depend on us alone, because one of the two structures is under Government power, which certainly exercises control over it and shows no sign of giving it up.
Pope Benedict says that the journey of unity “is not easy and cannot be accomplished overnight” (6.5, 6.6).
But our diplomats want a miracle and they want it now, and not only. They also accuse others of clinging “to the spirit of opposition to condemn his brother or use the past as an excuse to stir up new resentments and closures” and of not being ready “to forgive, this means, unfortunately, that there are other interests to defend: but this is not an evangelical perspective”.
These are really cruel reproaches to address to faithful members of the Church, who for many years have suffered every kind of deprivation and oppression for their fidelity to the true Church!
When the other party has no intention of respecting the essential nature of the Catholic Church and on our part one wants unity at all costs, there is only one possible choice, that of forcing everyone to enter the “bird’s cage”.
d) With the solution of the “enlarged cage” will this encourage people to walk together? To embark on a new path? With serenity? With confidence?
It is said that it will be a gradual process, but let us suppose that the authors already have the next steps to be taken after the legitimization of the illegitimate in mind.
What will become of those Bishops who are legitimate according to the law of the Church but who are not recognized by the Government? Will they be “accepted”? That is, admitted to the cage? Will it finally be “a” legitimate episcopal conference? (With the Government holding the key to the cage?)
Parolin and company recognize that this solution is not perfect, it is a lesser evil. You can endure and suffer an evil (damage), but you can never do wrong (sin), great or small.
Our suffering at the creation of a schismatic Church by others may be inevitable, but we cannot assist in its creation.
Moreover, a schismatic church created by the party is not a cause for fear, it will fade with the fall of the regime. Instead, a schismatic church with the Pope’s blessing would be horrifying!
Having clarified the nature of the unity to be reached, it is easy to consider the following problem: How do we achieve this unity?
With reconciliation (ad intra) and dialogue (with the Government).
a) Reconciliation is not without difficulty but possible, because it depends only on our goodwill, dialogue with the Government is more difficult.
b) Pope Francis in Seoul had said: “The first condition of a dialogue is consistency with one’s own identity.”
It is a matter of honesty, of justice. We need to know and let it be known where we want to arrive, that is, what our conscience dictates as a desirable outcome to dialogue. In our case, obviously it is: “a true religious freedom which not only does not harm but favours the true good of the nation”.
Will we be able to manage this dialogue? Is there a hope of success? Is there at least a minimum foundation to hope in the present situation when the Chinese Communist Party is more powerful and overbearing than ever? When, both its words and actions point to an even more rigorous control of every religion, but in a special way of the so-called “foreign” religions.
The Communists no longer feel the need to save appearances. Photographs show that it is the State that manages the Catholic Church in China, which is no longer Catholic but Chinese, schismatic. (The joint meeting of the Patriotic Association and the so-called “episcopal conference is [always] led by a government official”) The Popes refrain from using the word “schism” for compassion for those who find themselves not of their own will under severe pressure.
From what we can observe see, the Holy See is acquiescing to this unacceptable reality. (Is it really sure that this is for the good of the Church?)
In order for a dialogue to be true, it must start from a position of equality. There is no real dialogue between the jailer and the prisoners, between the victor and the vanquished. But our own seems to start from a position of weakness. Reliable source says that the Vatican Delegation could not discuss the case of Bishop James Su Zhi Min who has been in the hands of the government for more than twenty years, because our interlocutors refused. In my opinion, our delegation should have left the negotiating table and come home. Accepting their refusal is like kneeling down to them from the outset.
After all we are not the vanquished. Do our diplomats not know that the faithful of the clandestine community constituted, and perhaps still constitute, the majority? That they have churches and cathedrals in various places? That in the city, where obviously they cannot have churches, they say Masses in private homes so as not to be disturbed by the public security authorities who are also aware of everything. Unfortunately, as of February 2018 we can expect a much stricter control by the Government on the activities of these our brothers and sisters, also because the Government knows that by now it also has the consent of the Holy See.
c) While supporting the need for external dialogue with the government, the Vatican has stifled dialogue within the Church. With a supremely rude gesture it dismissed the Pontifical Commission for the Church in China set up by Pope Benedict without so much as a word. The only competent Chinese voice in the Vatican was Archbishop Savio, sending him as Nuncio to Greece. So much for “finding synthesis of truth”! So much for “discovering God’s plan together”! They are convinced that they “have considered everything properly”.
The most repugnant thing I find in the whole interview is the dishonest exploitation of expressions of the Letter of Pope Benedict, making it appear as if he was a faithful supporter of the Pope Emeritus, whereas in reality he and the then Prefect of the Congregation for ‘Evangelization of the Peoples have thwarted all of Pope Ratzinger’s efforts to bring the Church in China back on the right path.
At the beginning and end of the interview he made two citations respectively.
a) In Chapter 4 Paragraph 7 Pope Benedict says: “The solution to existing problems cannot be pursued via an ongoing conflict with the legitimate civil authorities; at the same time, though, compliance with those authorities is not acceptable when they interfere unduly in matters regarding the faith and discipline of the Church..”
b) In Paragraph 6 he had said: (Citing “Deus caritas est”) “The Church cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice..”
In both quotes, Parolin took advantage of the first half, leaving out the other half, losing the balance of Pope Benedict’s thought.
Given the recent controversies, I feel the desire to clarify my relationship with PopeFrancis who, whenever I meet him, fills me with tenderness.
It is true that my revelations of a private interviews may have caused him embarrassment and for this I am sorry. But I am still convinced that there is a void between the way of thinking of His Holiness and the way of thinking of his collaborators, who readily take advantage of the Pope’s optimism to pursue their goals. Until proven otherwise I am convinced that I have defended the good name of the Pope from the responsibility of the erroneous judgement of his collaborators and that he has communicated his encouragement to my brothers in China who are, as we say in China, “in the burning fire and in deep water”.
If, by chance, one day a bad agreement is signed with China, obviously with the approval of the Pope, I will withdraw in silence to “monastic life”. Certainly as a son, even if unworthy, of Don Bosco I will not make myself the head of a rebellion against the Roman Pontiff, Vicar of Christ on earth.
Let us pray for Pope Francis “that the Lord will preserve him, give him strength, make him happy, and save him from the hands of his enemies.”