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HONG KONG, CHINA - MAY 24: Cardinal Joseph Zen holds a mass at the Holy Cross Church on May 24, 2022 in Hong Kong, China. The former Catholic Cardinal and four other trustees of a now-defunct fund for protesters were arrested by national security police on charges of "collusion with foreign forces", and later released on bail. Louise Delmotte/Getty Images

Pledge your prayers and fasting for protection of the Church during the Synod on Synodality HERE

(LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Joseph Zen renewed his criticism of the “confused and confusing” Synod on Synodality and denounced the participation of two bishops linked to China’s communist government at the synod.

The former bishop of Hong Kong blasted synod leaders for trying to “reduce the Word of God to the feeling of the people” and emphasizing the “magisterium” of Pope Francis while neglecting nearly 2,000 years of Catholic teaching in an interview with the Catholic Herald.

“The animators of the Synod seem to reduce the Word of God to the feeling of the people – by which they mean all the baptized, even those who left the Church long ago – and refer to the magisterium, not of the past 20 centuries, not of the many recent popes, but only of the reigning pontiff,” he said.

Zen also mocked the concept of “conversations in the Spirit,” a form of “shared prayer” used in the Synod’s small-group discussions that aims at “inclusive consensus” and “discernment” of dissenting views.

The Instrumentum laboris of the synod describes the method not as a “generic exchange of ideas, but a dynamic in which the word spoken and heard generates familiarity, enabling the participants to draw closer to one another.

“Perhaps a cup of coffee or small glass of something ‘spiritual’ and some cookies might help even more the ‘conversation in the spirit,’” the 91-year-old Hong Kong cardinal remarked. “Please find somebody to explain, in a way that we poor mortals may understand: What does it mean ‘to discuss not ideas but experiences?’”

“So, the long tradition of ‘see and judge’ should be changed to ‘see and do not judge,’” he said. “But Jesus told the Apostles to ‘teach!’”

“If discernment is meant to help the Pope and the bishops to ‘teach,’ and the teaching is surely done through ideas,” he added, “shouldn’t the ‘conversations in the Spirit’ necessarily bring us back to Jesus himself, who said that the Spirit will ‘take from what He has taught to the Apostles?’”

Zen has emerged as a major critic of the Synod on Synodality and heterodoxy promoted by its leaders. In a leaked letter earlier this month to bishops attending the event, he accused synod organizers of having a “plan of manipulation” and an agenda of undermining Catholic teaching on sexuality.

“They begin by saying that we must listen to all. Little by little they make us understand that among these ‘all’ there are especially those whom we have ‘excluded.’ Finally, we understand that what they mean are people who opt for a sexual morality different from that of Catholic tradition,” he wrote.

“Often they claim not to have any agenda. This is truly an offense to our intelligence. Anybody can see which conclusions they are aiming at.”

The letter followed a series of dubia questions that Zen and four other cardinals submitted to Pope Francis asking him to clarify Catholic teaching on various issues, including homosexuality. Francis responded to the first set of questions by appearing to authorize priests to “bless” same-sex unions on a case-by-case basis. Zen called the Pope’s response “pastorally untenable” in a scathing analysis last week.

READ: Cardinals Burke, Müller condemn Pope Francis’ support for same-sex ‘blessings,’ Communion for adulterers

Chinese communist-backed bishops at synod not ‘real pastors’

In his interview with the Catholic Herald, the Hong Kong prelate also criticized the participation of two bishops linked to Chinese communist government at the Synod, describing them as not “real pastors.”

Pope Francis named Bishop Antonio Yao Shun of Jining and Bishop Joseph Yang Yongqiang of Zhoucun synodal delegates, but the Vatican announced Monday that they would be abruptly leaving the Synod early due to “pastoral needs” of their dioceses.

“They are all chosen by the Pope from the bishops recognized by the Pope as legitimate,” Zen noted.

“But they are all from the bishops obedient to the government, not from those real pastors of the people – in both the official and underground Churches – who now are even more persecuted than before the secret agreement,” he said.

Yang is the vice president of the state-run Council of Chinese Bishops, which is not recognized by the Vatican, and was elected a leader of the similarly government-backed, schismatic Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association in 2016.

He participated in the 2023 National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which is part of the Chinese Communist Party’s united front program, the Catholic News Agency reported.

READ: Cardinal Zen: Pope’s agreement invites the ‘annihilation of the real Church in China’

Yao, reportedly the first bishop consecrated after the implementation of Pope Francis’ widely condemned Vatican-China agreement, served as the spiritual director of the National Seminary of the Patriotic Catholic Church and a secretary and later vice director of the liturgical commission managed by the Chinese bishops’ council and the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.

Pope Francis chose the two bishops as members of the Synod from a list approved by the Chinese government, according to Bishop Luis Marín de San Martín, the undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops.


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Cardinal Zen: Pope Francis is ‘encouraging a schism’ by ‘legitimizing’ China’s Communist-run church

Pledge your prayers and fasting for protection of the Church during the Synod on Synodality HERE