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Cardinal Joseph ZenClaire Chretien / LifeSiteNews

HONG KONG, November 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Joseph Zen, Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, has prayed that God will save the Holy See “from the brink of the precipice” and not allow it to “sell out the faithful church” to the atheist Communist Chinese government.

At St. Jude’s Church in Hong Kong last week during a Mass organized by the Diocesan Commission of Justice and Peace, Cardinal Zen, 85, recalled the unexplained death of Fr. Pedro Wei Heping. Fr. Wei died in November 2015; his body was found in a river by the city of Taiyuan in the province of Shanxi. Chinese authorities ruled his death a suicide and refused to show the autopsy report to his family.

The two Chinese Catholic Churches

Wei was a member of the underground, authentic Chinese Roman Catholic Church. Since the communist People’s Republic of China broke off diplomatic relations with the Holy See, there has also existed in China a puppet “Catholic” church called “the Catholic Patriotic Association.”

This shadow church is run by China’s atheist government. It is composed of 70 government-picked “bishops” and five million members. The authentic Catholic Church, which has 30 bishops and an estimated seven million faithful, is faithful to Rome and therefore illegal. It has been savagely persecuted by the Chinese government for decades, providing the Church worldwide with such martyrs and confessors as the great Cardinal Kung.

Among his other endeavours for the authentic Catholics of China, Fr. Wei established an underground seminary. Ordained in 2004, he was only 41 when he died.

According to AsiaNews, Cardinal Zen remarked that he thought the late Fr. Wei was “using [his] mouth” to communicate concerns about the current dialogue between the Chinese government and the Holy See.

“The Holy See is not necessarily the Pope,” said the Cardinal. However, he observed that in the dialogue between China and the Vatican, the Holy See has said nothing about the calamities that have befallen the authentic Church in China, such as the death of Father Wei, the captivity of other clerics, and the destruction of Catholic monuments and churches in Zhejiang.  

“Dialogue is important and necessary,” Zen said. “However, it [the Vatican] is too optimistic about the communist regime. It has depended on its diplomacy instead of faith. It does not have a bottom line to reach an agreement.”

“The Holy See is ceaselessly compromising and has even arrived at the point of selling itself out to appease,” he continued. “This is by no means what God expects of the Church and by no means faithful to the mission that Christ gave the Apostles. “

AsiaNews also reported that Cardinal Zen indicated he received some “shocking news” about the Vatican-Beijing negotiations. He said the Chinese government was “pushing for an evil plan: to ask faithful bishops to resign in order to leave room for illicit and excommunicated bishops. This is a bolt out of the blue! And it is the approach of a huge disaster for the Church.”

“Someone might think I'm using the Mass to complain. No, I think Fr. Wei is using my mouth to communicate. These words serve to let us know what kind of grace we are asking for today. “

Wrong strategy

The Shanghai-born Cardinal Zen has spoken out before about the Holy See’s recent diplomatic overtures to China. In July, he voiced fears that the situation of the underground Catholic Church is worse that it was even turning the oppression of the 1950s and 60s.

“Why? Because the church has been weakened,” he said. “I'm very sorry to say the government has not changed, but the Holy See is adopting a wrong strategy. They are too eager to dialogue, dialogue so they tell everybody not to make noise, to accommodate, to compromise, to obey the government. Now things are going down, down.”

Zen thought that Pope Francis is naive about communism, for the Argentinian knows it only from a Latin American point of view. Pope Francis has no experience with communism as it is practiced by a totalitarian regime. Thus, Zen said, both Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI understood the situation while Pope Francis is confused.

“On the surface,” he said of February’s historical agreement between Beijing and the Vatican on the election of bishops,  it seems that “the authority of the Pope is safe because they say the Pope has the last word.”

“But the whole thing is fake. They are giving decisive power to the government … how can the initiative of choosing bishops be given to an atheistic government? Incredible. Incredible.”

According to the agreement, the Chinese government will approve the election of bishops at the Chinese bishops’ conference and then let Pope Francis approve or veto them. However, Zen found this deal inconceivable.

“I really cannot believe that the Holy See doesn’t know that there is no bishops' conference,” he said. “There is only a name. They never really have a discussion, meetings. They meet when they are called by the government. The government gives instructions. They obey. It’s fake.”

Zen said Pope Benedict understood that there is no legitimate bishops’ conference in China. What the Chinese government calls the bishops’ conference is just the bishops of the so-called Catholic Patriotic Association. There are no legitimate Roman Catholic bishops in this group; those faithful to the Holy See are all underground.