HONG KONG, October 25, 2018, (LifeSiteNews) – In a blistering New York Times opinion piece, the outspoken former bishop of Hong Kong declared that the agreement between the Vatican and the government of China “is a major step toward the annihilation of the real Church in China.”
Cardinal Joseph Zen asserted this has come about because Pope Francis doesn’t understand China. The pontiff is “naturally optimistic about communism,” and so “he is being encouraged to be optimistic about the Communists in China by cynics around him who know better.”
Pope Francis doesn’t understand the brutality of Chinese Communism
“I know the Church in China, I know the Communists and I know the Holy See. I’m a Chinese from Shanghai. I lived many years in the mainland and many years in Hong Kong,” wrote the Cardinal.
“Pope Francis, an Argentine, doesn’t seem to understand the Communists,” noted Zen. “He is very pastoral, and he comes from South America, where historically military governments and the rich got together to oppress poor people. And who there would come out to defend the poor? The Communists. Maybe even some Jesuits, and the government would call those Jesuits Communists.”
“Francis may have natural sympathy for Communists because for him, they are the persecuted,” continued Zen. “He doesn’t know them as the persecutors they become once in power, like the Communists in China.”
Increasing pressure on Catholics in China
The Vatican reached its agreement with China just as the communist nation began ramping up religious persecution. Zen says the faithful in China are now coming under increasing pressure after the communist government tightened regulations on the practice of religion in February.
According to Zen, the environment for practicing Catholics has grown so toxic in recent months that priests who were members of the underground Church are warning parishioners not to attend Mass in order to avoid arrest.
The deal with the Vatican also raises significant questions about the legitimacy of the bishops who will comprise the hierarchy in the communist state. Zen noted:
Soon after the deal was announced, two Chinese bishops from the official church were sent to Vatican City for the synod, a regular meeting of bishops from around the world. Who selected them? Both men are known to be close to the Chinese government. As I have said, their presence at the gathering was an insult to the good bishops of China.
Their presence also raises the painful question of whether the Vatican will now legitimize the seven official bishops who remain illegitimate. The pope has already lifted their excommunication, paving the way for them to be formally granted dioceses.
The 30 or so bishops who were part of the underground Church in China now “will be forced to join the so-called bishops’ conference. They will be forced to join the others in that bird cage, and will become a minority among them. The Vatican’s deal, struck in the name of unifying the Church in China, means the annihilation of the real Church in China.”
Diplomacy trumps the faith
The Cardinal noted that he at first applauded Pope Francis’ choice of Pietro Parolin to be the Vatican’s secretary of state in 2013, but has since had second thoughts after having watched Parolin oversee the deal with the Chinese communists: “I now think that Cardinal Parolin cares less about the Church than about diplomatic success. His ultimate goal is the restoration of formal relations between the Vatican and Beijing.”
Zen then asked:
Francis wants to go to China — all popes have wanted to go to China, starting with John Paul II. But what did Francis’s visit to Cuba in 2015 bring the Church? The Cuban people? Almost nothing. And did he convert the Castro brothers?
If I were a cartoonist, I would draw the Holy Father on his knees offering the keys of the kingdom of heaven to President Xi Jinping and saying, “Please recognize me as the pope.”
And yet, to the underground bishops and priests of China, I can only say this: Please don’t start a revolution. They take away your churches? You can no longer officiate? Go home, and pray with your family. Till the soil. Wait for better times. Go back to the catacombs. Communism isn’t eternal.
Selling out the Catholic Church in China
The Holy See signed a “provisional agreement” on September 22 with the People’s Republic of China on the appointment of bishops after months of speculation and apprehension among Catholics.
Through the agreement, Pope Francis also decided to readmit into communion with the Catholic Church the Chinese government’s “official” bishops ordained without pontifical mandate.
The agreement has been criticized by many experts on China and other Catholics, especially Cardinal Zen, who was the first to start sounding the alarm, calling it a betrayal and a surrender, and saying the deal is “selling out the Catholic Church in China” and that it is “giving the blessing on the new … schismatic Church” created by the Communists.
Critics say the deal sells out the authority of the papacy in its handing over the task of naming bishops to the Chinese Communist Party, and that it also betrays the underground Church there.
Zen’s opinion on the Vatican’s deal with China is extremely important, according to former high ranking Vatican officials.
Earlier this month, German Cardinal Gerhard Müller said that he trusts Cardinal Zen’s opinion of China’s communist government more than the new Vatican-China deal.
Cardinal Raymond Burke said earlier last week that the Vatican’s recently signed deal with China on selecting bishops was “absolutely unconscionable,” and “a betrayal of so many confessors and martyrs who suffered for years and years and were put to death” by the Communist Party.