Featured Image
Cardinal Joseph Zen speaks with LifeSite in New York on February 14, 2020.Jim Hale / LifeSite

PETITION: Support Cardinal Zen's plea to stop the “murder of the Church in China”! Sign the petition here.

VATICAN CITY, July 6, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — It has been a year since Cardinal Joseph Zen made an emergency trip to Rome in an attempt to warn Pope Francis about the Vatican’s just-released pastoral document that gives priests in China reasons why they should register with the Communist government.

The 88-year-old retired bishop of Hong Kong marked the anniversary this July by noting on his blog and Twitter that Pope Francis has still not responded to his several “dubia” or criticisms of the document that Zen described as “the most cruel thing” the Vatican has done concerning the Catholic Church in China, and “absolutely against the doctrine of the Church, because it encourages people to be part of a schismatic Church.”

Zen also marked the occasion by accusing Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin of “single-handedly” completing a “trilogy of murdering the Church in China” and of “manipulating the Holy Father.”

He lists the first part of the trilogy as the Vatican’s September 2018 provisional secret deal with President Xi Jinping’s Communist regime on the appointment of Catholic bishops in China.

While the pope insists the agreement gives him final say on bishop appointments, Zen wrote that he doubts the document, which he has not been permitted to see, is clear on that point. 

The trilogy’s second part was “more damaging: the legitimization of seven ex-communicated ‘bishops,’” Zen wrote.

These were priests who had been illegitimately “ordained” in the state-run Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, while those in the underground Church who resisted were sent to “to prison or labor camps where they could die.” 

Not only did Pope Francis reinstate the excommunicated bishops, he gave them jurisdiction over dioceses, even though they “showed no change in their behavior” and “reaffirmed their loyalty to the atheist government,” Zen wrote.

“That was astonishing for us: He is giving the sheep to the wolves!”

The third and “most cruel thing is what happened last year around this time,” Zen said. This was June 28, 2019, release of the “Pastoral guidance for the civil registration of clergy in China.” 

With this document, “Cardinal Parolin served the last blow to murder the Church in China,” wrote Zen, recalling that when he read the document, he immediately flew to the Vatican to meet with the Holy Father. 

He also questioned both the Prefect of the Congregation for Evangelization and the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The former said he was not asked to sign off on the guidance, and the latter told Zen that “Now everything about China is exclusively in the hands of the Secretary of State.”

Once he arrived in Rome, Zen sent a letter to the pope asking him to be present “at a dialogue between me and Cardinal Parolin, the obvious author of the document.”

He described how after receiving no answer, he sent Pope Francis another letter July 1 along with “my ‘dubia’ about the document, which I judged to be absolutely against the doctrine of the Church, because it encourages people to be part of a schismatic Church.”

On July 2, Francis advised Zen by letter to talk to Parolin, at which point the cardinal told the message-bearer:  “It would be completely useless; so, please, tell the Holy Father I’m going back empty-handed.”

Zen recalled that the pope then invited him to dinner July 3, which Parolin also attended but said little, and during which Francis showed “great affection” to Zen but also “some embarrassment.”

The cardinal wrote that he realized Parolin planned the dinner to make it clear that the Holy Father listened to him, not Zen, and that Parolin had no intention of talking about the pastoral guidelines to Zen.

“So I did not come back empty-handed. I had a chance to see with my eyes that Parolin is manipulating the Holy Father,” wrote Zen.

In late September, Zen sent all members of the college of cardinals a copy of his book “For the love of my people I will not keep silent,” and a letter beseeching them to come to the aid of the Catholic Church in China — communications he made public in January.

However, the new Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, “wrote a letter to all Cardinals criticizing my letter,” he said, to which Zen responded in March.

“It’s now a whole year since my visit to Pope Francis, but still no word from him. I am not sure whether my letters can reach him, so I put now on my blog what I want to say, hoping that he may get the chance to read it through somebody,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Italian journalist Massimo Tosatti reported Sunday that Pope Francis inexplicably dropped from his post-Angelus remarks a message supporting liberty for the people of Hong Kong.

On June 30, Beijing passed a sweeping national security law for Hong Kong that created four new crimes — secession, subversion, terrorist activities and collusion with a foreign country — which carry maximum sentences of life in prison. Zen has blasted the law as destructive to religious freedom and warned it will “destroy Hong Kong.”

Journalists were told just before the pope appeared that he would not read a message contained in the Vatican “Bulletin” in which he expresses the “desire that societal freedom, and especially religious freedom, be expressed in full and true liberty” for the people of Hong Kong, wrote Tosatti (as translated by Giuseppe Pellegrino).

“Since the Bulletin is under embargo until the moment when it is spoken, and these words were never spoken, officially it is as if these words never existed,” he said. “But they were written, and they are known.”

However, “what is not known is what sort of pressure Beijing put on the Pope so that he would not speak on world television about the drama of the former British colony, even in the most delicate and peaceful tones possible,” added Tosatti.

China expert Steven Mosher recently looked into the startling claims of Chinese dissident Guo Wengui that the Chinese Communist Party “allocates up to $2 billion a year” to buy the Vatican’s silence about its ongoing persecution of the Catholic Church in China and other human rights abuses. 

While Guo did not offer evidence to back up his claims, and is known to “play fast and loose” with numbers, his allegations have “a ring of truth,” Mosher concluded.

“China is clearly throwing a lot of money around on the world stage in its drive for dominance,” and it seems that there are officials in the Vatican who would accept such contributions, “given some of the other shady transactions that have come to light in recent years.”