ROME, February 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Hong Kong’s Cardinal Joseph Zen issued another strongly-worded criticism today of the Vatican’s proposed deal with China’s Communist regime, suggesting it would amount to a papal endorsement of schism.
“There is no reason to fear a schismatic church created by the [Communist] party. It will fade with the collapse of the regime,” he wrote. “But a schismatic church with the Pope’s blessing will be horrible!”
Cardinal Zen’s comments came in response to a recent interview with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, published in the Italian daily La Stampa. Zen posted the commentary on his blog in both Chinese and Italian.
Reading the interview “disgusts me,” the archbishop emeritus of Hong Kong said.
He accused Cardinal Parolin of shedding “crocodile tears” for persecuted Catholics in China, saying he “adores Ostpolitik” but “despises the genuine faith of those who firmly defend the Church, founded by Jesus on the Apostles.”
Parolin professes to bring healing to persecuted Catholics in China through “the balm of mercy,” Zen said, but in reality he is “rubbing salt in their wounds” by rewarding traitors, castigating the faithful, and “forcing a legitimate bishop to cede his post to an excommunicated one.”
The “most repugnant thing” Zen said he found in the interview was Parolin’s “dishonest exploitation” of Pope Benedict XVI’s Letter to Catholics in China. He charged the Vatican Secretary of State with “manipulating” the letter to make himself appear to be a “faithful supporter” of Benedict’s work, when he actually “thwarted all of Pope Ratzinger’s efforts to bring the Church in China back to the right path.”
In the lengthy blogpost, Cardinal Zen also spoke of his relationship with Pope Francis. He said he is sorry if his revelation of their private conversations caused the Holy Father any embarrassment. But he said he “remains convinced” that there is a “divide” between the Pope’s thinking and that of his collaborators, and that they are “having a field day taking advantage of the Pope’s optimism to pursue their goals.”
“The communists want to enslave the Church,” he said. “There are those who refuse this slavery, and there are those who submit to it. Unfortunately, there are also those who embrace it.”
If one day the Holy See were to sign a “bad agreement” with China with the Pope’s approval, Cardinal Zen said he would “withdraw in silence to a ‘monastic life.’” In the meantime, he urged the faithful to pray for the Pope, that the Lord may “save him from the hands of his enemies.”
Here below is a LifeSite translation from the Italian of Cardinal Zen’s full text. The [underlined] emphasis is the cardinal’s.
I still can’t understand understand what they are dialoguing with China over
by Cardinal Joseph Zen
Response to “Why we are in dialogue with China,” the interview His Eminence Cardinal Parolin granted to Gianni Valente (that is, the interview they cooked up together).
I have read the interview several times, and now I am reading it again (even though doing so disgusts me).
I am grateful to His Eminence for having acknowledged that “it is legitimate to have differing opinions.”
First of all, one notes the insistence with which His Eminence says that his point of view and the purpose of his activities are pastoral, spiritual, evangelical and faith-based nature, while our thinking and acting are only politically driven.
What we see instead is that he adores the Ostpolitik diplomacy of his teacher, [Agostino] Casaroli, and despises the genuine faith of those who firmly defend the Church, founded by Jesus on the Apostles, from any interference of secular power.
I cannot forget my astonishment in reading one of his addresses a few years ago in the Osservatore Romano, where he described the heroes of the faith in Central-European countries under the communist regime (Cardinal Wyszynsky, Cardinal Mindszenty and Cardinal Beran, though without naming them) ) as “gladiators,” and “people systematically opposed to the government and eager to appear on the political stage.”
One also notes the repeated mention of his compassion for the suffering of our brothers 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 doesn’t respect this at all (they are “gladiators”!)
He also speaks of wounds that are still open, and his intention to heal them with “the balm of mercy.” But what wounds is he talking about?
Towards the end of the interview, at a certain point he says: “With frankness, … I will say: I am also convinced that some of the suffering experienced by the Church in China is due not so much to the will of individuals, as it is to the objective complexity of the situation.”
Therefore, he knows very well that, in the Church in China, it’s not (or rarely) a matter of personal offenses or resentments, but that they are all victims of persecution by an atheistic totalitarian power. Use the balm of mercy? But there are no personal offenses to forgive. It is a slavery from which they need to be liberated.
Mercy for the persecutors? For their accomplices? Reward traitors? Castigate the faithful? Force a legitimate bishop to cede his post to an excommunicated one? Is this not rather rubbing salt in their wounds.
Let’s go back to the “objective situation.” The painful state wasn’t created by us, but by the regime. The communists want to enslave the Church. There are those who refuse this slavery, there are those who submit to it. Unfortunately, there are also those who embrace it.
Faced with this reality how is it possible not to speak of “power, resistance, clash, compromise, failure, surrender, and betrayal”?
Parolin wants us to talk about communion and collaboration. But are there conditions? Where do we unite? How do we collaborate? Let us analyze two fundamental matters that need to be clarified.
What is the nature of the unity we want to achieve?
a) His Eminence praises Chinese Catholics and says that “there are not two Catholic Churches in China.” If I am not mistaken, I was the first one to say this at a meeting of the Synod of Bishops, given that, in both communities, the faithful are loyal to the Pope in their hearts (today with the increase of opportunists in the community run by the Government I no longer dare to apply the statement to the whole 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, while the other structure is imposed by an atheistic government intent on creating a schismatic Church that is subject to its power.
b) Eliminating this division and reestablishing unity must be the desire of every Catholic, but not with a clean slate, let alone by manipulating the Pope Benedict’s Letter [to Chinese Catholics].
In the Pope Emeritus’s letter 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 Heyndricks, quoting out of context the phrase “the clandestine condition is not a normal feature of the Church’s life,” took as his mission to spread the word throughout China (where he enjoyed great freedom of movement): “There is no longer any need for clandestine communities. Everyone must come out into the open, i.e. become part of the community subject to the Government.
In the Commission for the Church in China we noted this great error, but both the Secretariat of State and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples have ignored this warning, obviously supporting the idea of Father Heyndricks.
Only after two years, when this error had already done immense damage, did we manage insert into the “Compendium” booklet several notes that aim to distinguish a reconciliation of hearts from unity in the 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 the power of the Government, which certainly already controls it and gives no sign of giving it up.
Pope Benedict says that the journey toward unity “is not easy and cannot be accomplished overnight” (6.5, 6.6).
But our diplomats want to perform a miracle immediately and accuse others of “clinging to the spirit of opposition in order to condemn their brother,” of “using the past as a pretext to forge new resentments and closures,” and of “not being ready to forgive, which means that there are other interests to defend.”
How cruel are these reproaches addressed to faithful members of the Church, who for many long 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 side, they want to achieve unification at all costs, there is only one possible choice, that of forcing everyone to enter the “cage.”
d) With the solution of the “enlarged cage” will we walk together? Will it be a new path? With serenity? With confidence?
They say it will be a gradual process, but suppose the planners already have in mind what the next step after the legitimizing of the illegitimate will be.
What will become of the legitimate Bishops according to the law of the Church but not recognized by the Government? Will they be “accepted”? That is, also admitted to the cage? Will there finally be “one” 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. Once can endure and suffer an evil (harm), but you can never do wrong (sin), however great or small it might be.
Suffering as others create a schismatic Church may be inevitable, but we cannot help in its creation.
Furthermore, there is no reason to fear a schismatic church created by the party. It will fade with the collapse of the regime. But a schismatic church with the Pope’s blessing will be horrible!
Having clarified the nature of the unity to be reached, it is easy to consider the following problem: How do we achieve this unity?
Through reconciliation (ad intra) and dialogue (with the Government).
a) Reconciliation is not without difficulty but it is possible, because it depends only on our goodwill. Dialogue with the Government is more difficult.
b) Pope Francis had said in Seoul: “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 make known where we want to arrive, that is, according to our conscience what a good outcome of the dialogue will be. In our case, it is obviously: “a true religious freedom which not only does not harm but fosters the true good of the nation.”
Will we succeed in this dialogue? Is there a hope of success? Is there even a minimum foundation in the present situation, when the Chinese Communist Party is more powerful and dominating than ever? When both his actions and pronouncements are directed toward a more rigorous control over every religion, but in a special way of the so-called “foreign” religions.
The Communists no longer even feel the need to keep up appearances. Photographs show that it is the State that manages the Catholic Church in China, which is no longer Catholic but Chinese, schismatic. (It is a government official who presides over the [always] joint meeting of the Patriotic Association and the so-called “episcopal conference”). The Popes refrain from using the word “schism” out of compassion for those who find themselves there not of their own volition but under severe pressure.
From what we see, the Holy See is accepting this unacceptable reality. (Is it sure it is doing good to the Church?)
For dialogue to be true, it must start with a position of equality. There is no real dialogue between the jailer and the prisoners, between the victor and the vanquished. But our side seems to begin from a position of weakness. Reliable sources say that the Vatican Delegation could not discuss the case of Bishop Giacomo Su Zhi Min, who has been in the hands of the government for more than twenty years, because they refused to discuss it. It seems to me that our side should have left the negotiating table and come home. Accepting their refusal is like kneeling from the start.
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 in various places they have churches and cathedrals? That in the city, where obviously they cannot have churches, they have Masses said in private houses and are undisturbed 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 our brothers and sisters, also because the Government knows that it now has the Holy See’s consent.
(c) While supporting the need for external dialogue with the government, the Vatican has stifled dialogue within the Church. With a supremely ill-mannered gesture, and without a word, it liquidated the Pontifical Commission for the Church in China established Pope Benedict. They got rid of the only competent Chinese voice in the Vatican, Archbishop Savio, by sending him as nuncio to Greece. “Finding syntheses of truth” indeed!“Discovering God’s plan together” indeed! They are sure they “have considered everything adequately.”
The most repugnant thing I find in the whole interview is the dishonest exploitation of phrases in the Letter of Pope Benedict, making it appear that he was a faithful supporter of the Pope Emeritus, whereas in reality he and the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples thwarted all of Pope Ratzinger’s efforts to bring the Church in China back to the right path.
At the beginning and end of the interview he cites two quotations, 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 take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She 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, thus losing the balance of Pope Benedict’s thought.
Given the recent controversies, I cannot fail to clarify my relationship with Pope Francis who, whenever I meet him, fills me with tenderness.
It is true that my revelations of private conversations may have caused him embarrassment. I am sorry for this. But I am still convinced that there is a divide between His Holiness’ way of thinking and the way of thinking of his collaborators, who have a field day taking 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 responsibility for the erroneous things coming from his collaborators, and of having communicated his encouragement to my brothers and sisters in China who are, as we say in China, “in the burning fire and in deep waters.”
If one day it should happen that a bad agreement is signed with China, obviously with the approval of the Pope, I will withdraw in silence to a “monastic life.” Certainly as a son, even though unworthy, of Don Bosco, I will not make myself the head of a rebellion against the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ on earth.
Let us pray for Pope Francis “that the Lord may preserve him, give him strength, make him happy, and save him from the hands of his enemies.”
Translation by Diane Montagna