China : Vatican Favours Govt. Ordained Priests

Discussion in 'News of/from Rome' started by Admin, Jan 25, 2018.

  1. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member

    upload_2018-1-25_10-48-49.png


    Vatican ‘asks underground Chinese bishops to
    stand aside for government-backed ones’

    A Vatican delegation reportedly asked two bishops to stand down as part of a deal with Chinese authorities

    The Holy See has reportedly asked two Chinese bishops to stand aside to make way for illicitly ordained, Chinese government-backed counterparts.

    A Vatican delegation asked Bishop Peter Zhuang of Shantou and Bishop Jospeh Guo Xijin of Mindong to retire or accept demotion in order to smooth relations with the Chinese government.

    Asia News, the outlet of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, reports that 88-year-old Bishop Zhuang received a letter dated 26 October asking him to resign to make way for the government-backed Bishop Huang Bingzhang.

    Bishop Huang was excommunicated in 2011 after being consecrated without Vatican approval. He is also a member of the National People’s Congress, the Chinese parliament.

    Asia News reports that Bishop Zhuang was escorted to Beijing, where he met Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, former president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, who told him to retire – but with the proviso that he could nominate three priests, one of whom Bishop Huang would appoint as his vicar general.


    [​IMG]


    Sources said Bishop Zhuang burst into tears on hearing the demand, adding that “it was meaningless to appoint a vicar general, who is still a priest that Bishop Huang could remove him anytime.”

    Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, confirmed the situation regarding Bishop Zhuang, Asia News says.

    The delegation then travelled south to Fujian province where they asked Bishop Joseph Guo Xijin on Mindong, who belongs to the underground Church, to accept demotion to coadjutor bishop under the government-backed Vincent Zhan Silu.

    Bishop Guo went missing for some time last year after authorities forced him to pay a visit to the religious affairs bureau in Fuan. His absence prevented him from celebrating the diocesan Chrism Mass.

    A source said that signing a document to accept demotion was one of the conditions authorities put to him before releasing him.

    An underground priest in Mindong said Catholics would feel conflicted over the move. “We of course feel hard to accept but do we have the right to oppose the Vatican?” He said that he may leave the priesthood over the Vatican’s decision.


    China: Bishops tortured and martyred for faith

    Chinese Government Threatens The Church

    Pope would ‘betray Christ’ if he allows Communist China to select bishops


    Source
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2018
  2. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member

    [​IMG]

    29th January, 1018

    Danger of Schism in China. Cardinal Zen: "The Pope Told Me…"


    The open letter reproduced in its entirety below was published today, Monday, January 29, by Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, on his blog, and was immediately republished by the agency Asia News of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions.

    In it, the cardinal reveals the essential contents of a conversation he had with Pope Francis, to whom he revealed his grave fears over the steps taken recently in China by Vatican representatives.

    These steps consisted in asking two “underground” bishops who are recognized by the Holy See, those of Shantou and Mindong, to make way for two bishops appointed by the government, both illicit and, the first one, excommunicated.

    For more details on these steps:

    > The Vatican asks legitimate bishops to step aside in favour of illegitimate ones

    Cardinale Zen now reveals that Pope Francis replied to him that he had given the order “not to create another Mindszenty case,” alluding to the heroic cardinal and primate of Hungary who was required by the Vatican authorities to leave his country in 1971, was removed from his position in 1973, and in 1975 was replaced with a new primate favored by the communist regime.

    But now it’s the cardinal’s turn.

    *
    Dear Friends in the Media,

    Since AsiaNews has revealed some recent facts in the Church in mainland China, of legitimate bishops being asked by the “Holy See” to resign and make place for illegitimate, even explicitly excommunicated, “bishops”, many different versions of the facts and interpretations are creating confusion among the people. Many, knowing of my recent trip to Rome, are asking me for some clarification.

    Back in October, when Bishop Zhuang received the first communication from the Holy See and asked me for help, I send someone to bring his letter to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, with, enclosed, a copy for the Holy Father. I don’t know if that enclosed copy reached the desk of the Holy Father.

    Fortunately, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai was still in Rome and could meet the Pope in a fare-well visit. In that occasion, he brought the two cases of Shantou and Mindong to the knowledge of the Holy Father. The Holy Father was surprised and promised to look into the matter.

    Given the words of the Holy Father to Archbishop Savio Hon, the new facts in December were all the more a shocking surprise to me. When the old distressed Bishop Zhuang asked me to bring to the Holy Father his answer to the message conveyed to him by the “Vatican Delegation” in Beijing, I simply could not say “No”. But what could I do to make sure that his letter reach the Holy Father, while not even I can be sure that my own many letters did reach him.

    To make sure that our voice reached the Holy Father, I took the sudden decision of going to Rome. I left Hong Kong the night of 9th January, arriving in Rome the early morning of 10th January, just in time (actually, a bit late) to join the Wednesday Public Audience. At the end of the audience, we Cardinals and Bishops are admitted to the “bacia mano” and I had the chance to put into the hands of the Holy Father the envelop, saying that I was coming to Rome for the only purpose of bringing to him a letter of Bishop Zhuang, hoping he can find time to read it (in the envelop there was the original letter of the Bishop in Chinese with my translation into Italian and a letter of mine).

    For obvious reasons, I hoped my appearance at the audience would not be too much noticed, but my late arrival in the hall made it particularly noticeable. Anyway, now everybody can see the whole proceeding from the Vatican TV (by the way, the audience was held in Paul VI Hall, not in St. Peter’s Square and I was a little late to the audience, but did not have to “wait in a queue, in a cold weather”, as some media erroneously reported).

    When in Rome, I met Fr. Bernard Cervellera of AsiaNews. We exchanged our information, but I told him not to write anything. He complied. Now that someone else broke the news, I can agree to confirm it. Yes, as far as I know, things happened just as they are related in AsiaNews (the AsiaNews report “believes” that the Bishop leading the Vatican Delegation was Msgr. Celli. I do not know in what official capacity he was there, but it is most likely that he was the one there in Beijing).

    In this crucial moment and given the confusion in the media, I, knowing directly the situation of Shantou and indirectly that of Mindong, feel duty-bound to share my knowledge of the facts, so that the people sincerely concerned with the good of the Church may know the truth to which they are entitled. I am well aware that in doing so I may talk about things which, technically, are qualified as “confidential”. But my conscience tells me that in this case the “right to truth” should override any such “duty of confidentiality”.

    With such conviction, I am going to share with you also the following:
    In the afternoon of that day, 10th January, I received a phone-call from Santa Marta telling me that the Holy Father would receive me in private audience in the evening of Friday 12th January (though the report appeared only on 14th January in the Holy See bulletin). That was the last day of my 85 years of life, what a gift from Heaven! (Note that it was the vigil of the Holy Father’s departure for Chile and Peru, so the Holy Father must have been very busy).

    On that evening the conversation lasted about half an hour. I was rather disorderly in my talking, but I think I succeeded to convey to the Holy Father the worries of his faithful children in China.

    The most important question I put to the Holy Father (which was also in the letter) was whether he had had time “to look into the matter” (as he promised Archbishop Savio Hon). In spite of the danger of being accused of breach of confidentiality, I decide to tell you what His Holiness said: “Yes, I told them (his collaborators in the Holy See) not to create another Mindszenty case”! I was there in the presence of the Holy Father representing my suffering brothers in China. His words should be rightly understood as of consolation and encouragement more for them than for me.

    I think it was most meaningful and appropriate for the Holy Father to make this historical reference to Card. Josef Mindszenty, one of the heroes of our faith. (Card. Josef Mindszenty was the Archbishop of Budapest, Cardinal Primate of Hungary under Communist persecution. He suffered much in several years in prison. During the short-lived revolution of 1956, he was freed from prison by the insurgents and, before the Red Army crashed the revolution, took refuge in the American Embassy. Under the pressure of the Government he was ordered by the Holy See to leave his country and immediately a successor was named to the likings of the Communist Government).

    With this revelation, I hope I have satisfied the legitimate “right to know” of the media and of my brothers in China.

    The important thing for us now is to pray for the Holy Father, very fittingly by singing the traditional song “Oremus”: "Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Francisco, Dominus conservet eum et vivificet eum et beatum faciat eum in terra et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius."

    Some explanations may still be in order.

    1. Please, notice that the problem is not the resignation of the legitimate Bishops, but the request to make place for the illegitimate and even excommunicated ones. Many old underground Bishops, though the retirement age law has never been enforced in China, have insistently asked for a successor, but have never received any answer from the Holy See. Some others, who have a successor already named, may be even already in possession of the Bulla signed by the Holy Father, were ordered not to proceed with the ordination for fear of offending the Government.

    2. I have talked mainly of the two cases of Shantou and Mindong. I do not have any other information except the copy of a letter written by an outstanding Catholic lady, a retired University professor well-acquainted with affairs of the Church in China, in which she warns Msgr. Celli against pushing for the legitimization of “bishop” Lei Shi Ying in Sichuan.

    3. I acknowledge myself as a pessimist regarding the present situation of the Church in China, but my pessimism has a foundation in my long direct experience of the Church in China. From 1989 to 1996 I used to spend six months a year teaching in the various Seminaries of the official Catholic community. I had direct experience of the slavery and humiliation to which those our brother Bishops are subjected. And from the recent information, there is no reason to change that pessimistic view. The Communist Government is making new harsher regulations limiting religious freedom. They are now strictly enforcing regulations which up to now were practically only on paper (from the 1st of February 2018 attendance to Mass in the underground will no longer be tolerated).

    4. Some say that all the efforts to reach an agreement is to avoid the ecclesial schism. How ridiculous! The schism is there, in the Independent Church! The Popes avoided using the word “schism” because they knew that many in the official Catholic community were there not by their own free will, but under heavy pressure. The proposed “unification” would force everybody into that community. The Vatican would be giving the blessing on the new strengthened schismatic Church, taking away the bad conscience from all those who are already willing renegades and those others who would readily join them.

    5. Is it not good to try to find mutual ground to bridge the decades-long divide between the Vatican and China? But can there be anything really “mutual” with a totalitarian regime? Either you surrender or you accept persecution, but remaining faithful to yourself (can you imagine an agreement between St. Joseph and King Herod?)

    6. So, do I think that the Vatican is selling out the Catholic Church in China? Yes, definitely, if they go in the direction which is obvious from all what they are doing in recent years and months.

    7. Some expert on the Catholic Church in China is saying that it is not logical to suppose a harsher religious policy from Xi Jinping. However, we are not talking about logical thinking, but the obvious and crude reality.

    8. Am I the major obstacle in the process of reaching a deal between the Vatican and China? If that is a bad deal, I would be more than happy to be the obstacle.

    Hong Kong, January 29, 2018

    Chiesa News

    ..
     
  3. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member

    Cardinal Zen: Vatican is now backing a
    ‘new…schismatic Church’ in China
    CHINA, January 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – China’s leading prelate, Cardinal Joseph Zen, is sounding the alarm that the Vatican "is selling out the Catholic Church in China" and that it is "giving the blessing on the new...schismatic Church" created by the Communists.

    "So, do I think that the Vatican is selling out the Catholic Church in China? Yes, definitely, if they go in the direction which is obvious from all what they are doing in recent years and months," the 86-year-old retired Bishop of Hong Kong wrote in a Jan. 29 letter addressed to “Friends in the Media,” in which he confirmed a report that the Vatican had asked legitimate Chinese bishops to step down in favor of communist-picked bishops.

    Cardinal Zen outlined how the Vatican's capitulation to China’s communist regime is only making the regime clamp down harder on faithful Catholics.

    "The Communist Government is making new harsher regulations limiting religious freedom. They are now strictly enforcing regulations which up to now were practically only on paper (from the 1st of February 2018 attendance to Mass in the underground will no longer be tolerated)," he wrote.

    The Cardinal's letter comes days after news broke that the Vatican has allegedly asked legitimate bishops to step down from their post in order to make way for the installation of new, illegitimate bishops, hand-picked by the government.

    READ: Vatican asks legitimate Chinese bishops to step down in favor of communist-picked bishops: report

    The Cardinal related in his letter that when China’s Bishop Zhuang, secretly ordained with Vatican approval in 2006, was asked by the Vatican last fall to step down in order to be replaced by government-approved, excommunicated Bishop Huang Bingzhang, Zhuang reached out to Zen for help.

    Uncertain whether or not his own letters ever reach Pope Francis, Cardinal Zen said that he traveled to Rome eariler this month to "make sure that our voice reached the Holy Father."

    Cardinal Zen landed in Rome on the morning of January 10, and went straight to the Pope’s Wednesday Public Audience held in Paul VI Hall, hoping to have an opportunity to place his letter in the Pope’s hands. When he had the chance to greet the Pope, he explained that this was his sole reason for his spur-of-the-moment travel to Rome.

    Two days later, Cardinal Zen was invited to Santa Marta where he met privately with Pope Francis. “I was there in the presence of the Holy Father representing my suffering brothers in China,” recounts Zen in his letter. Pope Francis promised to look into the matter.

    Zen related that after he outlined his concerns the Pope told him the following words: “Yes, I told them (his collaborators in the Holy See negotiating with China) not to create another Mindszenty case.”

    Commented the Cardinal in his letter:

    I think it was most meaningful and appropriate for the Holy Father to make this historical reference to Card. Josef Mindszenty, one of the heroes of our faith. (Card. Josef Mindszenty was the Archbishop of Budapest, Cardinal Primate of Hungary under Communist persecution. He suffered much in several years in prison. During the short-lived revolution of 1956, he was freed from prison by the insurgents and, before the Red Army crashed the revolution, took refuge in the American Embassy. Under the pressure of the Government he was ordered by the Holy See to leave his country and immediately a successor was named to the likings of the Communist Government).

    Cardinal Zen had previously denounced a Vatican agreement with the Chinese atheistic Communist government and had indirectly accused Pope Francis of backing a “fake” church in China.

    “But the whole thing is fake. They [the Vatican] are giving decisive power to the government … how can the initiative of choosing bishops be given to an atheistic government? Incredible. Incredible,” he said at that time.

    While the first part of Cardinal Zen’s letter is a simple narrative about the events surrounding his trip to Rome, the second part reveals his alarming assessment of the events which have transpired between the Vatican, the legitimate Chinese “underground” Catholic Church, and the Chinese communist government.

    Cardinal Zen offers eight points which underscore the urgency of the situation which now exists. Among these are:
    • "[T]he problem is not the resignation of the legitimate Bishops, but the request to make place for the illegitimate and even excommunicated ones."
    • “I acknowledge myself as a pessimist regarding the present situation of the Church in China, but my pessimism has a foundation in my long direct experience of the Church in China. From 1989 to 1996 I used to spend six months a year teaching in the various Seminaries of the official Catholic community. I had direct experience of the slavery and humiliation to which those our brother Bishops are subjected.”
    • “And from the recent information, there is no reason to change that pessimistic view. The Communist Government is making new harsher regulations limiting religious freedom.”
    • “Some say that all the efforts to reach an agreement is to avoid the ecclesial schism. How ridiculous! The schism is there, in the Independent Church! The Popes avoided using the word “schism” because they knew that many in the official Catholic community were there not by their own free will, but under heavy pressure. The proposed “unification” would force everybody into that community. The Vatican would be giving the blessing on the new strengthened schismatic Church.”
    • Regarding attempts to bridge the long divide between the Vatican and the Chinese government, “can there be anything really “mutual” with a totalitarian regime?”
    • “[C]an you imagine an agreement between St. Joseph and King Herod?
    • “[D]o I think that the Vatican is selling out the Catholic Church in China? Yes, definitely, if they go in the direction which is obvious from all what they are doing in recent years and months.”
    The Vatican was not pleased with Zen's accusations.

    In a move to perhaps gain control of the narrative regarding the shift in Chinese diplomacy under Pope Francis, Holy See Press Office Director Greg Burke issued a statement attempting to reassure Catholics that the Pope and members of the Curia are in close contact and working together on the issue:

    “The Pope is in constant contact with his collaborators, in particular in the secretariat of State, on chinese issues, and is informed by them faithfully and in detail on the situation of the Catholic Church in china and on the steps in the dialogue in progress between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China, which he follows with special attention. It is therefore surprising and regrettable that the contrary is affirmed by people in the Church, thus fostering confusion and controversy.”

    A report issued by Catholic News Service notes that the Vatican Press Director’s statement was silent regarding the accuracy or inaccuracy of the proposed transfer of bishops in China.

    As such, the most pressing questions raised by Cardinal Zen’s letter remain unanswered.

    Pundits say that the Chinese government is cracking down on the religious liberty of faithful Catholics because they represent an existential threat to the communist regime.

    “The Chinese Communists studied the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 and the liberation of the nations behind the Iron Curtain thanks to St. John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and many others in the West who kept the pressure on Moscow,” explains The Catholic Thing’s Robert Royal. “They appreciate the power of religion and clearly believe they can prevent Christianity from doing in China what it did in Poland and elsewhere.”

    Catholics, though not a huge percentage of the country’s population, total roughly 60 million faithful, notes Royal. “It’s safe to say that more Christians are in church on a Sunday morning in China than in all of Europe.”

    “The Vatican seems to be stumbling in its relations with a regime that we can be sure will not respect the freedom of the Church since it doesn’t respect the freedom and dignity of its own people,” says Royal. “Vatican negotiators would do well to remember the lessons of the Communist Era in Europe, particularly Solzhenitsyn’s warning that we must fully understand the nature of Communist regimes and not give in to the illusion that the split between us and them ‘may be abolished through successful diplomatic negotiations.’ Because the split is spiritual, deeply so, not political.”

    Cardinal Zen, at the end of his letter, asks, “Am I the major obstacle in the process of reaching a deal between the Vatican and China? If that is a bad deal, I would be more than happy to be the obstacle.”

    ***

    Cardinal Zen's January 29, 2018 letter to the Media.

    Dear Friends in the Media,

    Since AsiaNews has revealed some recent facts in the Church in mainland China, of legitimate bishops being asked by the “Holy See” to resign and make place for illegitimate, even explicitly excommunicated, “bishops”, many different versions of the facts and interpretations are creating confusion among the people. Many, knowing of my recent trip to Rome, are asking me for some clarification.

    Back in October, when Bishop Zhuang received the first communication from the Holy See and asked me for help, I send someone to bring his letter to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, with, enclosed, a copy for the Holy Father. I don’t know if that enclosed copy reached the desk of the Holy Father. Fortunately, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai was still in Rome and could meet the Pope in a fare-well visit. In that occasion, he brought the two cases of Shantou and Mindong to the knowledge of the Holy Father. The Holy Father was surprised and promised to look into the matter.

    Given the words of the Holy Father to Archbishop Savio Hon, the new facts in December were all the more a shocking surprise to me. When the old distressed Bishop Zhuang asked me to bring to the Holy Father his answer to the message conveyed to him by the “Vatican Delegation” in Beijing, I simply could not say “No”. But what could I do to make sure that his letter reach the Holy Father, while not even I can be sure that my own many letters did reach him.

    To make sure that our voice reached the Holy Father, I took the sudden decision of going to Rome. I left Hong Kong the night of 9th January, arriving in Rome the early morning of 10th January, just in time (actually, a bit late) to join the Wednesday Public Audience. At the end of the audience, we Cardinals and Bishops are admitted to the “bacia mano” and I had the chance to put into the hands of the Holy Father the envelop, saying that I was coming to Rome for the only purpose of bringing to him a letter of Bishop Zhuang, hoping he can find time to read it (in the envelop there was the original letter of the Bishop in Chinese with my translation into Italian and a letter of mine).

    For obvious reasons, I hoped my appearance at the audience would not be too much noticed, but my late arrival in the hall made it particularly noticeable. Anyway, now everybody can see the whole proceeding from the Vatican TV (by the way, the audience was held in Paul VI Hall, not in St. Peter’s Square and I was a little late to the audience, but did not have to “wait in a queue, in a cold weather”, as some media erroneously reported).

    When in Rome, I met Fr. Bernard Cervellera of AsiaNews. We exchanged our information, but I told him not to write anything. He complied. Now that someone else broke the news, I can agree to confirm it. Yes, as far as I know, things happened just as they are related in AsiaNews (the AsiaNews report “believes” that the Bishop leading the Vatican Delegation was Msgr. Celli. I do not know in what official capacity he was there, but it is most likely that he was the one there in Beijing).

    In this crucial moment and given the confusion in the media, I, knowing directly the situation of Shantou and indirectly that of Mindong, feel duty-bound to share my knowledge of the facts, so that the people sincerely concerned with the good of the Church may know the truth to which they are entitled. I am well aware that in doing so I may talk about things which, technically, are qualified as “confidential”. But my conscience tells me that in this case the “right to truth” should override any such “duty of confidentiality”.

    With such conviction, I am going to share with you also the following:

    In the afternoon of that day, 10th January, I received a phone-call from Santa Marta telling me that the Holy Father would receive me in private audience in the evening of Friday 12th January (though the report appeared only on 14th January in the Holy See bulletin). That was the last day of my 85 years of life, what a gift from Heaven! (Note that it was the vigil of the Holy Father’s departure for Chile and Peru, so the Holy Father must have been very busy).

    On that evening the conversation lasted about half an hour. I was rather disorderly in my talking, but I think I succeeded to convey to the Holy Father the worries of his faithful children in China.

    The most important question I put to the Holy Father (which was also in the letter) was whether he had had time “to look into the matter” (as he promised Archbishop Savio Hon). In spite of the danger of being accused of breach of confidentiality, I decide to tell you what His Holiness said: “Yes, I told them (his collaborators in the Holy See) not to create another Mindszenty case”! I was there in the presence of the Holy Father representing my suffering brothers in China. His words should be rightly understood as of consolation and encouragement more for them than for me.

    I think it was most meaningful and appropriate for the Holy Father to make this historical reference to Card. Josef Mindszenty, one of the heroes of our faith. (Card. Josef Mindszenty was the Archbishop of Budapest, Cardinal Primate of Hungary under Communist persecution. He suffered much in several years in prison. During the short-lived revolution of 1956, he was freed from prison by the insurgents and, before the Red Army crashed the revolution, took refuge in the American Embassy. Under the pressure of the Government he was ordered by the Holy See to leave his country and immediately a successor was named to the likings of the Communist Government).

    With this revelation, I hope I have satisfied the legitimate “right to know” of the media and of my brothers in China.

    The important thing for us now is to pray for the Holy Father, very fittingly by singing the traditional song “Oremus”:

    Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Francisco, Dominus conservet eum et vivificet eum et beatum faciat eum in terra et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius.

    ————————————-

    Some explanations may still be in order.

    1. Please, notice that the problem is not the resignation of the legitimate Bishops, but the request to make place for the illegitimate and even excommunicated ones. Many old underground Bishops, though the retirement age law has never been enforced in China, have insistently asked for a successor, but have never received any answer from the Holy See. Some others, who have a successor already named, may be even already in possession of the Bulla signed by the Holy Father, were ordered not to proceed with the ordination for fear of offending the Government.

    2. I have talked mainly of the two cases of Shantou and Mindong. I do not have any other information except the copy of a letter written by an outstanding Catholic lady, a retired University professor well-acquainted with affairs of the Church in China, in which she warns Msgr. Celli against pushing for the legitimization of “bishop” Lei Shi Ying in Sichuan.

    3. I acknowledge myself as a pessimist regarding the present situation of the Church in China, but my pessimism has a foundation in my long direct experience of the Church in China. From 1989 to 1996 I used to spend six months a year teaching in the various Seminaries of the official Catholic community. I had direct experience of the slavery and humiliation to which those our brother Bishops are subjected.

    And from the recent information, there is no reason to change that pessimistic view. The Communist Government is making new harsher regulations limiting religious freedom. They are now strictly enforcing regulations which up to now were practically only on paper (from the 1st of February 2018 attendance to Mass in the underground will no longer be tolerated).

    4. Some say that all the efforts to reach an agreement is to avoid the ecclesial schism. How ridiculous! The schism is there, in the Independent Church! The Popes avoided using the word “schism” because they knew that many in the official Catholic community were there not by their own free will, but under heavy pressure. The proposed “unification” would force everybody into that community. The Vatican would be giving the blessing on the new strengthened schismatic Church, taking away the bad conscience from all those who are already willing renegades and those others who would readily join them.

    5. Is it not good to try to find mutual ground to bridge the decades-long divide between the Vatican and China? But can there be anything really “mutual” with a totalitarian regime? Either you surrender or you accept persecution, but remaining faithful to yourself (can you imagine an agreement between St. Joseph and King Herod?)

    6. So, do I think that the Vatican is selling out the Catholic Church in China? Yes, definitely, if they go in the direction which is obvious from all what they are doing in recent years and months.

    7. Some expert on the Catholic Church in China is saying that it is not logical to suppose a harsher religious policy from Xi Jinping. However, we are not talking about logical thinking, but the obvious and crude reality.

    8. Am I the major obstacle in the process of reaching a deal between the Vatican and China? If that is a bad deal, I would be more than happy to be the obstacle.

    Source

    ..
     
  4. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member



    [​IMG]

    29th Jan. 2018

    Danger of Schism in China. Cardinal Zen:
    "The Pope Told Me…". With a Postscript

    The open letter reproduced in its entirety below was published today, Monday, January 29, by Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, on his blog, and was immediately republished by the agency Asia News of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions.

    In it, the cardinal reveals the essential contents of a conversation he had with Pope Francis, to whom he revealed his grave fears over the steps taken recently in China by Vatican representatives.

    These steps consisted in asking two “underground” bishops who are recognized by the Holy See, those of Shantou and Mindong, to make way for two bishops appointed by the government, both illicit and, the first one, excommunicated.

    For more details on these steps:

    > The Vatican asks legitimate bishops to step aside in favour of illegitimate ones

    Cardinale Zen now reveals that Pope Francis replied to him that he had given the order “not to create another Mindszenty case,” alluding to the heroic cardinal and primate of Hungary who was required by the Vatican authorities to leave his country in 1971, was removed from his position in 1973, and in 1975 was replaced with a new primate favored by the communist regime.

    But now it’s the cardinal’s turn.

    *
    Dear Friends in the Media,

    Since AsiaNews has revealed some recent facts in the Church in mainland China, of legitimate bishops being asked by the “Holy See” to resign and make place for illegitimate, even explicitly excommunicated, “bishops”, many different versions of the facts and interpretations are creating confusion among the people. Many, knowing of my recent trip to Rome, are asking me for some clarification.

    Back in October, when Bishop Zhuang received the first communication from the Holy See and asked me for help, I send someone to bring his letter to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, with, enclosed, a copy for the Holy Father. I don’t know if that enclosed copy reached the desk of the Holy Father.

    Fortunately, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai was still in Rome and could meet the Pope in a fare-well visit. In that occasion, he brought the two cases of Shantou and Mindong to the knowledge of the Holy Father. The Holy Father was surprised and promised to look into the matter.

    Given the words of the Holy Father to Archbishop Savio Hon, the new facts in December were all the more a shocking surprise to me. When the old distressed Bishop Zhuang asked me to bring to the Holy Father his answer to the message conveyed to him by the “Vatican Delegation” in Beijing, I simply could not say “No”. But what could I do to make sure that his letter reach the Holy Father, while not even I can be sure that my own many letters did reach him.

    To make sure that our voice reached the Holy Father, I took the sudden decision of going to Rome. I left Hong Kong the night of 9th January, arriving in Rome the early morning of 10th January, just in time (actually, a bit late) to join the Wednesday Public Audience. At the end of the audience, we Cardinals and Bishops are admitted to the “bacia mano” and I had the chance to put into the hands of the Holy Father the envelop, saying that I was coming to Rome for the only purpose of bringing to him a letter of Bishop Zhuang, hoping he can find time to read it (in the envelop there was the original letter of the Bishop in Chinese with my translation into Italian and a letter of mine).

    For obvious reasons, I hoped my appearance at the audience would not be too much noticed, but my late arrival in the hall made it particularly noticeable. Anyway, now everybody can see the whole proceeding from the Vatican TV (by the way, the audience was held in Paul VI Hall, not in St. Peter’s Square and I was a little late to the audience, but did not have to “wait in a queue, in a cold weather”, as some media erroneously reported).

    When in Rome, I met Fr. Bernard Cervellera of AsiaNews. We exchanged our information, but I told him not to write anything. He complied. Now that someone else broke the news, I can agree to confirm it. Yes, as far as I know, things happened just as they are related in AsiaNews (the AsiaNews report “believes” that the Bishop leading the Vatican Delegation was Msgr. [Claudio Maria] Celli. I do not know in what official capacity he was there, but it is most likely that he was the one there in Beijing).

    In this crucial moment and given the confusion in the media, I, knowing directly the situation of Shantou and indirectly that of Mindong, feel duty-bound to share my knowledge of the facts, so that the people sincerely concerned with the good of the Church may know the truth to which they are entitled. I am well aware that in doing so I may talk about things which, technically, are qualified as “confidential”. But my conscience tells me that in this case the “right to truth” should override any such “duty of confidentiality”.

    With such conviction, I am going to share with you also the following:
    In the afternoon of that day, 10th January, I received a phone-call from Santa Marta telling me that the Holy Father would receive me in private audience in the evening of Friday 12th January (though the report appeared only on 14th January in the Holy See bulletin). That was the last day of my 85 years of life, what a gift from Heaven! (Note that it was the vigil of the Holy Father’s departure for Chile and Peru, so the Holy Father must have been very busy).

    On that evening the conversation lasted about half an hour. I was rather disorderly in my talking, but I think I succeeded to convey to the Holy Father the worries of his faithful children in China.

    The most important question I put to the Holy Father (which was also in the letter) was whether he had had time “to look into the matter” (as he promised Archbishop Savio Hon). In spite of the danger of being accused of breach of confidentiality, I decide to tell you what His Holiness said: “Yes, I told them (his collaborators in the Holy See) not to create another Mindszenty case”! I was there in the presence of the Holy Father representing my suffering brothers in China. His words should be rightly understood as of consolation and encouragement more for them than for me.

    I think it was most meaningful and appropriate for the Holy Father to make this historical reference to Card. Josef Mindszenty, one of the heroes of our faith. (Card. Josef Mindszenty was the Archbishop of Budapest, Cardinal Primate of Hungary under Communist persecution. He suffered much in several years in prison. During the short-lived revolution of 1956, he was freed from prison by the insurgents and, before the Red Army crashed the revolution, took refuge in the American Embassy. Under the pressure of the Government he was ordered by the Holy See to leave his country and immediately a successor was named to the likings of the Communist Government).

    With this revelation, I hope I have satisfied the legitimate “right to know” of the media and of my brothers in China.

    The important thing for us now is to pray for the Holy Father, very fittingly by singing the traditional song “Oremus”: "Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Francisco, Dominus conservet eum et vivificet eum et beatum faciat eum in terra et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius."

    Some explanations may still be in order.

    1. Please, notice that the problem is not the resignation of the legitimate Bishops, but the request to make place for the illegitimate and even excommunicated ones. Many old underground Bishops, though the retirement age law has never been enforced in China, have insistently asked for a successor, but have never received any answer from the Holy See. Some others, who have a successor already named, may be even already in possession of the Bulla signed by the Holy Father, were ordered not to proceed with the ordination for fear of offending the Government.

    2. I have talked mainly of the two cases of Shantou and Mindong. I do not have any other information except the copy of a letter written by an outstanding Catholic lady, a retired University professor well-acquainted with affairs of the Church in China, in which she warns Msgr. Celli against pushing for the legitimization of “bishop” Lei Shi Ying in Sichuan.

    3. I acknowledge myself as a pessimist regarding the present situation of the Church in China, but my pessimism has a foundation in my long direct experience of the Church in China. From 1989 to 1996 I used to spend six months a year teaching in the various Seminaries of the official Catholic community. I had direct experience of the slavery and humiliation to which those our brother Bishops are subjected. And from the recent information, there is no reason to change that pessimistic view. The Communist Government is making new harsher regulations limiting religious freedom. They are now strictly enforcing regulations which up to now were practically only on paper (from the 1st of February 2018 attendance to Mass in the underground will no longer be tolerated).

    4. Some say that all the efforts to reach an agreement is to avoid the ecclesial schism. How ridiculous! The schism is there, in the Independent Church! The Popes avoided using the word “schism” because they knew that many in the official Catholic community were there not by their own free will, but under heavy pressure. The proposed “unification” would force everybody into that community. The Vatican would be giving the blessing on the new strengthened schismatic Church, taking away the bad conscience from all those who are already willing renegades and those others who would readily join them.

    5. Is it not good to try to find mutual ground to bridge the decades-long divide between the Vatican and China? But can there be anything really “mutual” with a totalitarian regime? Either you surrender or you accept persecution, but remaining faithful to yourself (can you imagine an agreement between St. Joseph and King Herod?)

    6. So, do I think that the Vatican is selling out the Catholic Church in China? Yes, definitely, if they go in the direction which is obvious from all what they are doing in recent years and months.

    7. Some expert on the Catholic Church in China is saying that it is not logical to suppose a harsher religious policy from Xi Jinping. However, we are not talking about logical thinking, but the obvious and crude reality.

    8. Am I the major obstacle in the process of reaching a deal between the Vatican and China? If that is a bad deal, I would be more than happy to be the obstacle.

    Hong Kong, January 29, 2018

    ----------

    POSTSCRIPT – On January 30 Vatican press office director Greg Burke released the following statement:

    "With reference to widespread news on a presumed difference of thought and action between the Holy Father and his collaborators in the Roman Curia on issues relating to China, I am able to state the following:

    'The Pope is in constant contact with his collaborators, in particular in the Secretariat of State, on Chinese issues, and is informed by them faithfully and in detail on the situation of the Catholic Church in China and on the steps in the dialogue in progress between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China, which he follows with special attention. It is therefore surprising and regrettable that the contrary is affirmed by people in the Church, thus fostering confusion and controversy'."

    In return, Cardinal Zen wrote in a fresh blog post that the Vatican had shifted the focus on the issue of appointment of bishops to the relations between the pope and his diplomats.

    "In fact, my blog never mentions that the pope does not know (what the Vatican diplomats are doing), but the pope really told (Archbishop) Savio Hon Tai-fai: 'Why the group (Vatican diplomats) never discussed with me (about recent appointments)?'

    "What the pope told me is true: That his opinions are different to theirs. Therefore, at the end of the 'statement,' they cannot doubt the pope telling a lie, and then assert that I tell a lie," he wrote.

    "I say in my blog that they are doing bad things (wrong things) but not say that they are lying, and now, readers are needed to judge either I or they tell a lie," he wrote.

    "Of course I know my [first] statement will cause controversy but not confusion. I hope the result of the controversy is that they admit what they are doing is bad (wrong) and should step back from the precipice."

    Meantime, Vatican Insider interviewed Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State:

    > Parolin: "Why we are in dialogue with China"

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  5. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member


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  6. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member

    Unfortunately, we have only been able to access two chapters of Joy in Suffering.
    Please pray for our Chinese Martyrs led by Cardinal Zen
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  7. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member

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    Chinese Bishops Illegitimate, Official, Clandestine… Which Ones Francis Is Rewarding and Which He Is Not
    05 feb

    To judge from what is happening in China, from the sortie of Cardinal Joseph Zen Zekiun, from the Vatican’s reply, from the interview with Cardinal Pietro Parolin and from the words of Pope Francis to Zen, an accord between the Holy See and the authorities of Beijing on the appointment of the bishops would seem to be in the home stretch:

    > China and the Vatican are close to a groundbreaking agreement

    The two dioceses, in fact, in which the controversy was ignited, those of Shantou and Xiapu-Mindong, have remained the only ones in which there are two competing bishops: one that is legitimate in the eyes of Rome and another who is illegitimate, if not downright excommunicated; or viceversa, one officially appointed and recognized by the Chinese government and another who was not and is treated as clandestine.

    To clear the field of this anomaly on the brink of schism - a serious obstacle to an agreement - the Vatican authorities have decided, for both dioceses, to “ask a sacrifice” of the two legitimate bishops, to step aside and recognize as the only titular bishop of the diocese the one appointed by the government, legitimizing him and absolving him if he was excommunicated.

    It comes as no surprise, therefore, that this decision of the Vatican authorities has wounded not only the two bishops who have been urged to abandon their office, but also a large part of the Catholic community in China, to which Cardinal Zen has given voice.

    Nor does it come as a surprise that Pope Francis should have told Zen that he had instructed the Vatican diplomats involved in the negotiation to “not create another Mindszenty case,” alluding to the heroic cardinal primate of Hungary who in 1971 was obliged by the Holy See to leave his country, in 1973 was removed from his position, and in 1975 was replaced with a new primate agreeable to the communist regime.

    Zen interpreted these words of Pope Francis as “a consolation and an encouragement,” in addition to an expression of dissent from the pope with respect to the stance of “concession” of the Vatican diplomats.

    But it is much more likely that Francis wanted to say something else. Cardinal József Mindszenty never agreed to resign voluntarily from the position of primate, it was Paul VI himself who was constrained to remove him from authority. And it is to this point that Jorge Mario Bergoglio does not want to come. He has told his associates to do all they can to convince those two bishops to resign of their own spontaneous will. In exchange, the Chinese authorities would officially bestow upon the older of them the title of "bishop emeritus" and on the younger that of "auxiliary bishop."

    For his part, cardinal secretary of state Pietro Parolin has defended the justice of the course taken by Vatican diplomacy, the framework of which continues to be traced back to the letter of Benedict XVI to Chinese Catholics in 2007.

    But a key element of that letter has certainly been dropped: where it defines as “incompatible with Catholic doctrine” the membership of bishops and clergy in the so-called Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, the main organism through which the authorities of Beijing exercise their full control over the Church. Today this membership is de facto allowed by the Holy See.

    Moreover, it is astonishing that the Vatican diplomats are not demanding as a preliminary condition for an accord at least the restoration to freedom of the bishops still under arrest.

    One of these, Peter Shao Zhumin, bishop of Wenzhou, was able to go back to his diocese a few days ago, on January 27, after eight months of abduction and unfruitful attempts to force him to join the Patriotic Association. A public appeal for his liberation had been made in June by the German ambassador in Beijing.

    But Augustine Cui Tai, coadjutor bishop of Xuanhua, still remains in confinement. And the same is true of Thaddeus Ma Daqin, bishop of Shanghai, whose case is even more spectacular.

    On July 7, 2012, when he was ordained bishop with the approval of both Rome and Beijing, Ma Daqin withdrew in obedience to the pope his membership in the Patriotic Association. He was arrested for this and is still impeded from governing the diocese, in spite of the fact that he retracted his dissociation in 2015, made a public profession of submission, and stooped to concelebrating a Mass with a bishop who is illegitimate but in the good graces of the regime, precisely the one who is supposed to become the sole titulary of the diocese of Xiapu-Mindong. Incredible but true, “La Civiltà Cattolica” judges the fate of Ma Daqin not as an example of “surrender” but of “reawakening” to reality, an exemplary model of “reconciliation between the Church in China and the Chinese government,” which the Holy See should “support and give a chance.” See, in this regard, the just-published book “In the soul of China,” edited by the Jesuit Anthony Spadaro, director of the magazine printed with the “placet” of Pope Francis, on page 217.

    *

    But what is the up-to-date picture of the bishops in China, which will be affected by the accord given as imminent between the Holy See and Beijing?

    Here is a classification for them by category and name, with their respective ages and dioceses, taken from the book by Gianni Cardinale “Vescovi nella terra di Confucio,” published last summer by Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

    With one advisory: that all those born before 1943, meaning over the age of 75, are required to present their resignation to the pope, who reserves the right to accept it or not.

    1. ILLEGITIMATE (RECOGNIZED BY BEIJING BUT NOT BY ROME)

    The bishops appointed by the Chinese authorities and not recognized as legitimate by the Holy See at present number seven, three of whom are also under public excommunication.

    Two of them work in the two dioceses in which are present also the two legitimate bishops who have been urged by the Vatican to step aside:

    Vincent Zhan Silu, b. 1961, Xiapu-Mindong
    Joseph Huang Bingzhang, b. 1967, Shantou, excommunicated

    The other five are in dioceses that for the Vatican figure as vacant:

    Joseph Liu Xinhong, b. 1964, Anhui
    Paul Lei Shiyin, b. 1963, Leshan, excommunicated
    Joseph Ma Yinglin, b. 1965, Kunming
    Joseph Guo Jincai, b. 1968, Chengde
    Joseph Yue Fusheng, b. 1964, Harbin-Heilongjiang, excommunicated

    It turns out that all seven sent to Rome the request to be reconciled with the Church. And this is what will happen, in the framework of the agreement that is given as imminent.

    2. LEGITIMATE AND “OFFICIAL” (RECOGNIZED BY BOTH ROME AND BEIJING)

    Joseph Li Shan, b. 1965, Beijing
    Francis An Shuxin, b. 1949, Baoding
    Peter Feng Xinmao, b. 1963, Jingxian
    Joseph Liu Liangui, b. 1964, Xianxian-Cangzhou
    Joseph Sun Jigen, b. 1967, Yongnian-Handan
    Peter Fang Jianping, b. 1962, Yongping-Tangshan
    Methodius Qu Ailin, b. 1961, Changsha
    Joseph Tang Yuange, b. 1963, Chengdu
    Joseph Chen Gong’ao, b. 1964, Nanchong
    Paul He Zeqing, b. 1968, Wanxian-Wanzhou
    John Lei Jiaipei, b. 1970, Xichang
    Peter Luo Xuegang, b. 1964, Yibin
    Joseph Cai Bingrui, b. 1966, Xiamen
    Joseph Gan Junqiu, b. 1964, Guangzhou
    Paul Su Yongda, b. 1958, Beihai-Zhanjiang
    Paul Liang Jiansen, b. 1964, Jiangmen
    Joseph Liao Hongqing, b. 1965, Meixian-Meizhou
    Paul Xiao Zejiang, b. 1967, Guiyang-Guizhou
    Matthew Cao Xiangde, b. 1927, Hangzhou
    Anthony Xu Jiwei, b. 1935, Linhai-Taizhou
    Paul Meng Qinglu, b. 1962, Hohhot
    Joseph Li Jing, b. 1968, Yinchuan-Ningxia
    Matthias Du Jiang, b. 1963, Bameng
    Joseph Zhang Xianwang, b. 1965, Jinan
    John Fang Xingyao, b. 1953, Linyi
    Joseph Li Mingshu, b. 1924, Qingdao
    Joseph Zhao Fengchang, b. 1934, Yanggu-Liaocheng
    John Lu Peisan, b. 1966, Yanzhou
    Joseph Yang Yongqiang, b. 1970, Zhoucun
    Joseph Zhang Yinlin, b. 1971, Jixian-Anyang
    Joseph Han Zhihai, b. 1966, Lanzhou
    Nicholas Han Jide, b. 1940, Pingliang
    John Battista Li Sugong, b. 1964, Nanchang-Jiangxi
    Francis Xavier Lu Xinping, b. 1963, Nanjing
    Joseph Shen Bin, b. 1970, Haimen
    Joseph Xu Honggen, b. 1962, Suzhou
    John Wang Renlei, b. 1970, Xuzhou
    John Battista Tan Yanquan, b. 1962, Nanning-Guanxi
    Paul Pei Junmin, b. 1969, Shenyang-Liaoning
    Paul Meng Ningyu, b. 1963, Taiyuan
    Peter Ding Lingbin, b. 1962, Changzhi
    John Huo Cheng, b. 1926, Fenyang
    Paul Ma Cunguo, b. 1971, Shuoxian-Shouzhou
    Anthony Dan Mingyan, b. 1967, Xi’an
    Peter Li Huiyuan, b. 1965, Fengxiang
    Louis Yu Runshen, b. 1930, Hanzhong
    Joseph Han Yingjin, b. 1958, Sanyuan
    John Battista Yang Xiaoting, b. 1964, Yan’an-Yulin
    Joseph Martin Wu Qinjing, b. 1968, Zhouzhi
    John Battista Ye Ronghua, b. 1931, Ankang
    John Battista Wang Xiaoxun, b. 1966, coadjutor Ankang
    Joseph Tong Changping, b. 1968, Tongzhou-Weinan
    Peter Wu Junwei, b. 1963, Xinjiang-Yuncheng

    To whom must be added:

    Thaddeus Ma Daqin, b. 1968, Shanghai, impeded

    3. LEGITIMATE BUT “CLANDESTINE” (RECOGNIZED BY ROME BUT NOT BY BEIJING)

    Two of them work in dioceses in which they are supposed to surrender their titles to their illegitimate competitors:

    Vincent Guo Xijin, b. 1958, Xiapu-Mindong
    Peter Zhuang Jianjian, b. 1931, Shantou

    The others are the following:

    Stephen Li Side, b. 1927, Tianjin
    Thomas Zhao Kexun, b. 1924, Xuanhua
    Augustine Cui Tai, b. 1950, Xuanhua, coadjutor, under arrest
    Julius Jia Zhiguo, b. 1935, Zhengding
    Joseph Hou Guoyang, b. 1922, Chongqing
    John Baptist Wang Ruohan, b. 1950, Kangding
    Peter Lin Jiashan, b. 1934, Fuzhou
    Peter Shao Zhumin, b. 1963, Yongjia-Wenzhou
    Joseph Gao Hongxiao, b. 1945, Kaifeng
    Peter Jin Lugang, b. 1955, Nanyang
    John Wang Ruowang, b. 1961, Tianshui
    John Pei Weizhao, b. 1966, Yujiang
    Andrew Han Jingtao, b. 1921, Siping-Jilin
    Joseph Wej Jingyi, b. 1958, Qiqihar-Heilongjiang
    Joseph Zhang Weizhu, b. 1958, Xinxiang

    4. “OFFICIAL” EMERITUS

    Stephen Yang Xiangtai, b. 1922, emeritus Yongnian,
    Joseph Zhu Baoyu, b. 1921, emeritus Nanyang
    Andrew Jin Daoyuan, b. 1929, emeritus Changzhi,
    Peter Zhang Zhiyong, b. 1932, emeritus Fengxiang
    Joseph Zhong Huaide, b. 1922, emeritus Sanyuan

    5. "CLANDESTINE” EMERITUS OR RETIRED

    Melchior Shi Hongzhen, b. 1929, coadjutor emeritus Tianjin,
    Joseph Shi Shuang-xi, b. 1967, auxiliary emeritus Yongnian,
    Joseph Ma Zhongmu, b. 1919, emeritus Yinchuan-Ningxia,
    Placidus Pei Ronggui, b. 1933, emeritus Luoyang
    Peter Mao Qingfu, b. 1963, retired, Luoyang
    Joseph Xing Wenzhi, b. 1963, auxiliary emeritus Shanghai,
    Matthias Gu Zeng, b. 1937, emeritus Xining
    John Zhang Qingtian, b. 1956, auxiliary emeritus Yixian
    John Chen Cangbao, b. 1959, retired, Yixian

    6. DISAPPEARED

    James Su Zhimin, b. 1932, Baoding, disappeared since 1996
    Cosma Shi Enxiang, b. 1922, Yixian, disappeared since 2001

    *

    There is also the case of a bishop who is illegitimate for both Rome and Beijing: Paul Wang Huiyao, b. 1959, Zhouzhi.

    The dioceses enumerated above with their respective bishops amount to 74. While the dioceses and apostolic prefectures in China number 137 in the partition adopted by the Vatican, and 97 in that of the Chinese authorities, not recognized by Rome. Therefore with numerous vacant dioceses, in both partitions.

    But it is also important to note which bishops the Chinese authorities wanted at the head of the Patriotic Association and of the Council of Bishops, whose terms were renewed at the end of 2016.

    The president of the Patriotic Association is John Fang Xingyao, bishop of Linyi, recognized by both the Vatican and the Chinese government.

    While the vice-presidents are the illegitimate and excommunicated bishops Lei Shiyin of Leshan, Huang Bingzhang of Shantou, and Yue Fusheng of Harbin-Heilongjiang, the illegitimate Ma Yinglin of Kunming, plus the legitimate and “official” Shen Bin of Haimen and Meng Qinglu of Hohhot.

    The president of the Council of Bishops is Ma Yinglin, illegitimate bishop of Kunming.

    While the vice-presidents are the illegitimate bishops Guo Jincai of Chengde, who is also secretary general, and Zhan Silu di Xiapu-Mindong, plus the legitimate and “official” Fang Xingyao of Linyi, Shen Bin of Haimen, Fang Jianping of Tangshan, Pei Junmin of Liaoning, Li Shan of Beijing, Yang Xiaoting of Yulin, He Zeqing of Wanzhou, Yang Yongqiang of Zhoucun.

    The Council of Bishops is an imitation episcopal conference under the strict control of the regime, from which are excluded all bishops who are recognized by Rome but not by the Chinese authorities.

    And in the accord that is given as imminent, it would be up to precisely this Council to select and propose to Rome the names of future bishops.

    Chiesa News

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  8. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member

    China’s state-run paper praises Pope Francis’ ‘wisdom’ in making concessions on bishop appointments


    BEIJING, February 9, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A newspaper controlled by the Chinese government has praised Pope Francis for making "concessions" to the Communist regime that have effectively resulted in the Vatican legitimizing excommunicated bishops loyal to the regime while forcing legitimate bishops of the underground Church into retirement.

    The Global Times told its readers in a February 5 editorial titled China-Vatican relations take clearer shape that the Roman pontiff had made “substantive concessions to China on bishop appointments.”

    It called the on-going Beijing-Vatican negotiations "tremendously beneficial to Catholics,” without specifying that it was likely referring to those Catholics who belong to the government-run Patriotic Catholic Association, what Chinese Cardinal Zen called a "new...schismatic Church."

    The Beijing-Vatican negotiations are not yet finalized. The Global Times suggested that the Vatican allowing Communist China to appoint bishops would "reflect Catholics’ ability to adapt to changes.”

    The article praised the "wisdom" of Pope Francis, saying that the negotiations are taking a “clearer shape” despite the opposition of “Western media and certain radical religious groups opposed to enhanced Sino-Vatican ties.”

    The article comes at a time when the Vatican is receiving heavy criticism from Catholics around the globe for what Cardinal Zen says amounts to "selling out the Catholic Church in China." Critics say that the Vatican’s negotiating strategy in China is nothing more than "simply negotiating the surrender of the underground Church" to the false church created by the Communists.

    China expert and director of the Population Research Institute Steve Mosher called the Global Times' article "propaganda."

    He explained to LifeSiteNews that the Global Times is the “mouthpiece” of the Chinese communist government, directed at the outside world.

    Mosher said he does not believe the Vatican should trust China’s new “god-emperor” Xi Jinping, saying that the whole thrust of Xi’s activities has been to consolidate his own power.

    “Xi Jinping has more power than Mao had at his height,” he said.

    Xi is not only the leader of China, but the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, the head of the military and of a dozen leading groups.

    “He’s basically done a power grab,” Mosher said.

    Mosher said he, like many Catholics around the world, cannot understand Pope Francis' dealings with Xi Jingping’s regime.

    “Obviously the ten million to twenty million Catholics in the underground Church have voted with their feet to stay underground," he said. “Why not just let the underground spread the Gospel?”

    Mosher observed that Matteo Ricci and his fellow Jesuits, the 15th-16th century missionaries to China, sought to convert the Chinese Emperor to Christianity so that his subjects would follow suit. But today, in Xi Jinping’s negotiations with Francis, the roles seem to have been reversed.

    “It’s not the Jesuit missionaries convincing the Emperor,” Mosher said. “It’s the Emperor convincing the Jesuit missionaries.”

    Source

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  9. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member


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    Hong Kong Catholics hold prayer vigil to oppose
    Vatican capitulation to China

    Tue. Feb 13, 2018 - 3:15 pm EST
    HONG KONG, February 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – In a clear sign of escalating anxiety, about 200 Hong Kong Catholics gathered for an all night-vigil to pray and express alarm over the Vatican’s pending capitulation to mainland China’s push for more communist control over the Chinese Catholic Church.

    “It’s a precarious situation. There’s a real danger of division,” said one priest at the prayer service who asked to remain anonymous, according to a Reuters report.

    Those attending the vigil share Hong Kong Cardinal Zen’s concerns. After visiting the Pope in Rome in late January, the 87 year-old Cardinal minced no words, saying, “So, do I think that the Vatican is selling out the Catholic Church in China? Yes, definitely.”

    Open letter to the Vatican
    On the same day as the prayer vigil, an open letter addressed to bishops’ conferences around the world––signed by Hong Kong-based academics, lawyers and human rights activists––warned that the Vatican’s actions would plunge Chinese Catholics “into confusion and pain, and schism would be created in the Church in China.”

    The letter implores the world’s bishops to ask the Vatican to “rethink the current agreement, and stop making an irreversible and regrettable mistake.”

    “We fully understand that the Holy See is eager to be able to evangelize in China more effectively. However, we are deeply worried that the deal would create damages that cannot be remedied,” say the signatories, as reported in Crux.

    “The Communist Party in China, under the leadership of Xi Jinping, has repeatedly destroyed crosses and churches, and the Patriotic Association maintains its heavy-handed control over the Church. Religious persecution has never stopped. Xi has also made it clear that the Party will strengthen its control over religions,” the letter continues. “So, there is no possibility that the Church can enjoy more freedom. In addition, the Communist Party has a long history of breaking promises.”

    They warn that the Vatican’s handshake with Beijing would “also damage the Church’s holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity, and deal a blow to the Church’s moral power.”

    The fate of millions of faithful members of China’s underground Catholic Church which, unlike the state-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, has been as closely tied to the Vatican as practicable, now hangs in the balance.

    Chinese Catholics foresee danger
    Reports in recent weeks coming out of China speak of the fear caused by the Vatican’s recent dealings with China’s communist regime.

    John, an underground priest, told ucanews.com that the Vatican’s plan is “like asking the underground church to take communion with the devil.” The underground church feels abandoned and betrayed, he said.

    He went on to say that the “Holy See is mistaken if it believes it can achieve unity by supporting the Communist Party-controlled Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association,” according to the report.

    Father John of Yunnan underground community told ucanews.com that the Holy See and the Catholic Patriotic Association have the same aim: “Both want to extinguish our underground community.”

    The hidden meaning of “sinicization”
    Lost amid recent controversies sparked by the Vatican abdication of bishop appointments to the Chinese government is the regime’s enactment of strict new regulations concerning religious affairs.

    While presented as nothing more than a bureaucratic revision to existing regulations, the move is seen by many as a giant step backwards toward increased state control of all religions––including Catholicism––by the nation’s communist government.

    Chinese officials insist that their goal is benign “sinicization,” a process where foreign influences within the country are made more compatible with Chinese culture. In reality, it is a mandate to co-opt Christianity––a process which is exacting an increasingly quantifiable toll on Chinese Christians.

    “Sinicization,” according to China Aid’s 2014 Annual Report of Religious and Human Rights Persecution in China, “amounts to de-Christianizing the church in China and eradicating the universal nature of Christianity,” elevating “the interests of the Communist Party,” and “usurping Christian doctrine that ‘Christ is the head of Church.’”

    And now, days after Vatican Archbishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo praised China as ‘best’ at implementing Church teaching on social doctrine, China’s millions of underground Catholics have more reason than ever to worry that they are being abandoned by Rome to a communist regime’s state-controlled church.

    What Westerners need to understand
    A cloud of dread has hung over tens of millions in the Christian community since the new laws were announced last year.

    “In recent months Catholics in China had anticipated the upcoming February 1 implementation of the government’s new, stricter regulations on religion with a sense of foreboding,” says John Lindblom, writing for Notre Dame University’s Church Life Journal.

    Lindholm says that Chinese Catholics view the new regulations, “as the regime’s attempt to achieve two goals with regard to China’s divided Catholic Church: 1) to greatly increase its already strong control over the ‘official’ (government-recognized) church, and 2) to eradicate the activities of the ‘unofficial’ or underground church though fines and prohibiting their gatherings (presumably stopping them by force, whereas they had previously often turned a blind eye), with the goal of eliminating it altogether by forcing it to amalgamate with the official church.”

    “Many Catholics, however, especially in the underground Church,” interpret the Vatican’s sudden eagerness to work with the communist regime “as the wrong approach, rewarding those who are least worthy of being in leadership,” Says Lindholm.

    “The regime’s ultimate policy,” warns Lindholm, “is that no organization, least of all a religious one, is to be governed by a foreign power, which can lead to insurgent movements and threaten the party’s rule.”

    When news of the Vatican capitulation emerged in the weeks leading up to the enactment of the new laws, many Catholics worried “that by aligning with Beijing, the Vatican risks betraying the underground clergy and followers who have remained loyal to the Pope’s authority to appoint bishops.”

    “We are simply negotiating the surrender of the underground Church,” says Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute and author of Bully of Asia, “the delivery of underground Catholics into the hands of the Patriotic Association, which is beholden to the Communist Party of China and answers to it.”

    China’s recent crackdown on religion
    According to its 2017 Annual Report issued by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, “In 2016, the Chinese government continued its campaign to remove crosses and demolish churches.”

    “Since 2014, authorities have removed crosses or demolished churches at more than 1,500 locations in Zhejiang Province alone,” continues the report. “During 2016, Chinese authorities arrested Christians for displaying the cross in their homes and printing religious materials, threatened parents for bringing their children to church, and blocked them from holding certain religious activities.”

    All this was occuring before the new, stricter regulations became law last week.

    Imbedded deeper in the official report, one comes across disturbing allegations of imprisonment and barbaric violence against China’s religious minorities, who become nothing more than a source for organ harvesting. “Organ donors often are nonconsenting, particularly executed Falun Gong prisoners and detainees, though individuals from other faiths also have been targeted, such as Uighur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, and Christians.”

    Most westerners think that this sort of barbarism exists only in China’s distant past, yet it is here and now.

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  10. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member

    Cardinal Parolin’s negotiations
    have badly hurt China’s Catholics


    February 27, 2018 (OnePeterFive) – Not long after I became Catholic in the early nineties, I traveled to China to learn more about the fate of my fellow believers under communism. They were divided into two opposing camps, or so I believed at the time, with some belonging to the state-controlled church – the so-called Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association – while others belonged to the Catholic Church in communion with Rome.

    Truth be told, I did not think much of those who attended the "Patriotic churches." I believed that these were small-"c" catholics who had compromised with, or entirely capitulated to, the party's demands to sever ties with the Universal Church and its head, the bishop of Rome.

    My sympathy was reserved for the Catholics of the Underground Church. These were bishops, priests, and lay Catholics who had courageously refused the oarty's demands to break with Rome in 1958. Instead, they had gone into the catacombs, risking arrest, imprisonment, torture, and sometimes even death to remain faithful. Led over the decades by brave bishops secretly ordained by the pope, these Catholics had endured decades of persecution while remaining loyal to the one true faith.

    In short, I believed that the members of the Underground Church were heroic, while the pewsitters in the Patriotic Church were more or less craven.

    Then I paid a call to the Vatican's unofficial emissary to China, whom we will call Monsignor Nonini.

    The monsignor's status was, of course, anomalous, given the lack of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and China. He was accredited to the Republic of China on Taiwan and had his offices in British-governed Hong Kong, but nearly all of his day-to-day work involved dealing with the Church in China.

    Monsignor Nonini was in close contact with the bishops of both the Underground and the Patriotic churches and had a surprising – and much more encouraging – story to tell about their relationship with each other, and with Rome.

    "The deep divisions of the past are well on their way to being healed," he told me. "After the end of the Cultural Revolution there was a general amnesty declared, and the Underground bishops and priests who had been imprisoned for decades for refusing to join the Patriotic church were released from jail and have been evangelizing throughout China."

    As far as the Patriotic church was concerned, Nonini surprised me by stating that one hundred percent of the laity, and nearly all its priests and bishops, had remained loyal to the Magisterium. "Nearly all the illicitly ordained bishops have asked the Holy Father to be recognized as legitimate," he told me. "And nearly all, after we examine their character and behavior, have been so recognized. The only exceptions are the Patriotic bishops of Beijing, Shanghai, and a couple of other major cities. They have made too many compromises."

    He summed up by saying, "The Church is more unified now than at any time since the Communist Revolution. Churches are being rebuilt, and seminaries are being reopened. Although it may appear from the outside that there are still two churches in China, inside of China, there is only one."

    I was overjoyed to learn that the Underground Church was increasingly able to come out of the catacombs and was, in many parts of China, openly preaching the Gospel and making converts. Even more surprising to me was that the Patriotic church, which had begun as a communist front organization intended to co-opt and gradually extinguish Catholicism throughout China, had been transformed from within by faithful Catholics who saw themselves as part of the Universal Church.

    The newfound unity of Catholics in China that Msgr. Nonini described to me had nothing to do with either political pressure from the party or political overtures to Beijing by Vatican diplomats. It had come about from the bottom up, not from the top down.

    It was not a perfect solution – some of the deep wounds of decades of politically fomented division remained – but it was a workable one. It had, after all, been worked out at the parish and diocesan levels by the real stakeholders – Chinese Catholics themselves – with the quiet encouragement and support of the then-holy father, Pope John Paul II.

    The officially atheistic Communist Party and its agents remained a brooding, hostile presence over both church communities but by common agreement was kept out of the local arrangements that allowed Catholics from both to coexist, even cooperate. Underground bishops, with the permission of the Vatican, named their own successors. The Patriotic Association named its own bishops, but these then almost always sought, and almost always got, consecration by the pope.

    This was the more or less happy situation that obtained in the long-suffering Chinese Church at the dawn of the 21st century.

    Then the Vatican Secretariat of State, which has representatives in all but a handful of countries around the world, decided to enter into formal talks with the PRC. Pietro Cardinal Parolin, who had earlier been involved with the establishment of diplomatic relations with Mexico and ongoing negotiations with Vietnam, was put in charge of the effort. He established direct contact with Beijing in 2005 with the goal of signing a written agreement with the atheistic regime over the appointment of bishops.

    This was a major blunder on several counts.

    First, it drew the attention of the Chinese Party-State to the activities of the Catholic Church in China. Whereas Mexico has been predominantly Catholic for centuries, and Vietnam has one of the largest Catholic populations in Asia, Catholics in China were a small minority, scattered in communities throughout the length and breadth of China. As such, they were able to evangelize, build churches, and even open seminaries, all while attracting relatively little hostile attention from the central government. "The mountains are high, and the emperor is far away," as the Chinese say.

    Once Beijing entered into formal negotiations with the Vatican, however, the Party-State began to pay a lot more attention to the activities of the domestic followers of this "hostile foreign power." In other words, the mere fact of negotiations put a target on the backs of Chinese Catholics. The "space" in which it had operated began to shrink under the unblinking eye of state surveillance.

    Vatican diplomats seem not to have realized that they were dealing with a one-party dictatorship that was far more brutal, and far less tolerant of any expressions of religious faith, than Mexico in the 1990s or Vietnam in the 2000s. For in the view of the CCP, all belief in transcendental religions, especially those with foreign connections like Catholicism, is suspect, even treasonous.

    The problem goes even deeper than this. As I write in Bully of Asia, since the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, the Chinese Communist Party has been promoting an extremely toxic form of national narcissism. The Chinese people are constantly being told that they, their culture, and their country are naturally superior to any other people, culture, or country that has ever existed. To be numbered among the descendants of the dragon, party propaganda insists, is to be part of the greatest phenomenon in human history. It means that you are part of the "Kingdom at the Center of the Earth" and that you deserve dominion over the lesser folk from the fringes.

    The state religion of China, in other words, is China itself. "Socialism with Chinese characteristics" is its catechism, the members of the party are its priesthood, and "core leader" Xi Jinping serves as its high priest. The whole of China serves as its temple, within whose sacred precincts its people are encouraged to worship their own collective greatness – and "core leader" Xi, of course.

    This is why Cardinal Parolin's insistence to Chinese leaders that "the Church in China does not want replace the state" fails to allay their suspicions. It draws upon a Western Church-state distinction that simply did not exist in Chinese history and that the Chinese Communist Party, in the present moment, is doing its level best to extinguish once again.

    Indeed, this and other ill informed statements may actually heighten the suspicions of China's senior leaders, given that they believe, along with China's ancient strategist, Sun Tzu, that "all warfare is deception." But even if they accept Cardinal Parolin's claim that in China (unlike, say, in Poland) the Church does not want to replace the state as state, there is still the problem that it wants to replace the state as church. In China, remember, the state aspires to be the church, and all Chinese are expected to be loyal members.

    But perhaps the biggest blunder made by Vatican diplomats in their on-again, off-again negotiations with China has been insisting, after the fashion in Western diplomatic circles, on the need for a formal written agreement. An informal understanding would have been far more appropriate in the Chinese cultural context.

    Consider the position of a communist functionary in the Bureau of Religious Affairs who is, shall we say, not unsympathetic to the Catholic Church. Such a functionary might well find it possible to keep to the terms of an informal understanding about the creation of bishops, even if the terms of that understanding were not entirely pleasing to his superiors.

    There is a precedent for such a situation. There was, for a while, an informal arrangement between the Bureau of Religious Affairs and the Vatican to the effect that the former would nominate, and the latter would approve, new bishops for the Patriotic church.

    That arrangement, not surprisingly, went aground not long after formal negotiations began in 2005. Why? Primarily because the Vatican asked for it to be put in writing. As a result of this blunder, at least eight bishops have been illegally "ordained" by the Chinese Communist Party in the years since.

    It is not hard to see why asking a communist functionary to draw up a formal written agreement would end any hope of real compromise. What functionary would dare draw up, much less urge his superiors to sign, an agreement giving the Vatican – which is to say a foreign power – any real control over the appointment of Chinese bishops in a Chinese-run church? Party leaders would be apoplectic at the mere suggestion that China's sovereignty be violated in this way. Any functionary who suggested otherwise would, at a minimum, be removed.

    As if the above missteps by Vatican diplomats were not enough, China itself, under Xi Jinping's dictatorial rule, is becoming more and more hostile to religious belief and expression. At last October's Party Congress, Xi demanded tighter controls over religious activity, insisting that the party "exercise overall leadership over all areas of endeavor in every part of the country."

    As a result, new regulations banning unauthorized religious activity were issued on February 1. According to a priest of the Underground Church, the new rules state that "all religious sites must be registered, no religious activities can be held beyond registered venues, non-registered clergymen are forbidden to host religious liturgies, and that minors and party members are forbidden from entering churches. … The living space for the Church is getting less and less."

    Has anyone in the Vatican read these new regulations, which make it clear that China is quickly reverting to Maoist type? Has it occurred to anyone there that now may be a particularly inauspicious time to force the Underground Church into the embrace of the Chinese Communist Party?

    Despite Beijing's increasing intransigence, Cardinal Parolin has continued to pursue a written agreement. His unseemly eagerness has made it clear to everyone, not least to his counterparts in Beijing, that he would accede to almost any demand. Not surprisingly, Beijing has gone for the jugular: the complete extinction of the Underground Church, starting with its bishops.

    In order to reach an agreement, China informed the Vatican's Secretary of State, two things must happen.

    First, the holy father must, without exception, consecrate all the Patriotic bishops that he and Pope Benedict, for very good reasons, had previously rejected.

    Second, he must eliminate the Underground Church, starting with its bishops. Elderly Underground bishops must be forcibly retired and replaced with Patriotic bishops of Beijing's choosing, while younger Underground bishops must be reassigned to subordinate roles in the Patriotic church.


    On the mere promise of a future agreement, the Vatican has bowed to these demands. This is why we have recently been treated to the heartbreaking spectacle of 88-year-old Underground bishop Peter Zhuang being forced, by Cardinal Parolin's emissaries, to hand over his Shantou diocese to excommunicated Patriotic bishop Huang Bingzhang. This is also why a younger Patriotic bishop, Joseph Guo of Fujian province, has been demoted to be an assistant to an illegitimate Patriotic bishop.

    This process will obviously continue until the last of the 30-odd Underground bishops have been sidelined and silenced, one way or another.

    It is the prospect of this "sell-out" of the Underground Church that sent Hong Kong's Cardinal Joseph Zen to Rome, to plead the cause of his Chinese co-believers to the holy father himself.

    Pope Francis reportedly told Cardinal Zen that "we don't want another Mindszenty."

    But these wrongheaded, politically naïve negotiations have already created, in Bishop Zhuang, "another Mindszenty."

    And now we have the prospect of several dozen more to follow.

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  11. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member

    [​IMG]

    Xinjiang, crosses, domes, statues destroyed: the new
    'Sinicized' Cultural Revolution


    03/02/2018, 13.51


    Bernardo Cervellera

    Crosses removed from the domes and the tympanum of Yining Church as well as external decorations and crosses, and the Way of the Cross within the church. The same happened at the churches of Manas and Hutubi. The Cross represents "a foreign religious infiltration ". Prayer services forbidden even in private houses under the threat of arrests and re-education. Children and young people forbidden to enter churches. Religious revival frightens the Party.

    Rome (AsiaNews) - "It's a new Cultural Revolution": this most frequent online comment in reaction to photos of the church of Yining (Xinjiang) stripped of the crosses that stood on the building, of the statues that stood on its tympanum and the decorations and paintings that embellished the facade.

    The photo that we published (on the left) shows the color, the momentum, the lightness of the domes and wall decorations, the crosses on the top of the building, before their destruction. The photo on the right shows the "after". Everything was destroyed by order of the government on February 27 and 28, just a few weeks after the meeting between the Chinese and Vatican delegations, which reportedly resulted in the drafting of a "historic" agreement on the nominations of bishops in the Chinese Catholic Church.

    Yining, 700 km west of the capital of Xinjiang, Urumqi, has a Catholic community of a few hundred faithful.

    The reference to the Cultural Revolution is a must: in the period from 1966 to 1976 the Red Guards led by Mao and the "band of the Four" implemented the most extreme form of communism by destroying churches, temples, pagodas, prayer books, statues, paintings to annihilate all religion.

    But the "Cultural Revolution" of these days is justified by another slogan: "syncisation". This implies - as Xi Jinping explained three years ago and reaffirmed at the Party Congress last October - "adhering to and developing religious theories with Chinese characteristics", adhering to the principle of "independence", adapting religion to socialist society and resisting "religious infiltration from abroad".

    Now the symbol of the cross represents "a religious infiltration from abroad": from the church of Yining, not only were the two crosses that overlapped the two domes razed to the ground, but also the crosses inside the sacred building have disappeared, including the Way of the Cross and the decorations in the form of a cross have been ripped from the pews.

    The iconoclastic fury has also affected other cities. Even before last Christmas, all the crosses from the church of Manas were destroyed and there are rumors that the same happened in the church of Hutubi.

    The comparison with the Cultural Revolution does not stop there. Just like then, it is forbidden for believers to pray even in private, in their homes. The police threaten that if they find two people praying together in their home, they will be arrested and forced to undergo re-education.

    Under the new regulations on religious activities, proposed last September and implemented last February 1st, worship can only be carried out in church, at the times set by the government. Any other place is considered an "illegal place" and those who break such regulations will be subject to prison, fines, expropriation of the building that houses illegal religious activity. Even private homes are now considered an "illegal place of worship": in every private house religious conversation or prayer is forbidden, under threat of arrest. The faithful can pray only in church, during Sunday service.

    All churches must display a sign at their entrance announcing that the building is "forbidden to minors under the age of 18" must be exposed because children and young people are prohibited from participating in religious rites.

    It should be noted that the churches mentioned are not illegal buildings, but officially registered churches. The point is that "sinicization" implies submission to the Chinese Communist Party, which must act as an "active guide" of religions, on which their life or death, every construction and every destruction, depends.

    The ruthless and suffocating control of the Party on religions can only be explained by fear. It is now everyone's experience in China - confirmed by various sociologists - that the country is in the midst of an impressive religious renaissance, to the point that over 80% of the population has some spiritual beliefs and that at least one fifth of the Party members secretly adhere to some form of religion. All this promises more control and persecution in the future. "I am very sad - a faithful of Urumqi confides to AsiaNews - that the Vatican is compromising with this government. In this way it becomes an accomplice of those who want our annihilation".

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  12. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member

    The Vatican Cannot Ignore China's Religious Persecution
    and Human Rights Abuses
    by Gerard T. Mundy

    February 27th, 2018

    Millions of Chinese sacrifice daily for the freedom to worship the Trinity as their God in communion with Rome. Rather than appeasing the Chinese government and capitulating to its demands, the Vatican would do well to admonish its leaders instead.


    Media outlets have been reporting that the Vatican is finalizing a plan to recognize seven “Catholic” bishops appointed illicitly by the Chinese government—an authoritarian Communist regime that openly oppresses the faithful and tramples on the freedom of religion. If this capitulation comes to pass, the Vatican's decision would violate the Catholic Church’s own political philosophy and natural rights philosophy.

    A source told an Italian newspaper in late February that a deal on the seven bishops, and possibly on future appointments as well, could be in place as early as March. The Vatican has declined to comment officially on the possible decision, but a source is reporting that Pope Francis is planning to lift the excommunications of several of the bishops who received this ecclesiastical punishment as a result of their illicit ordinations, and recognize the seven as official bishops. The Holy See is reportedly hoping that, in exchange, the Communist government will finally recognize the pope as head of the Church and provide him with some type of veto power over the selection of future “bishops” selected by the government. Multiple dispatches and sources are reporting different specific possibilities on what the Vatican may request, meaning that the terms of a potential deal are probably fluid and are still being debated.

    Whatever form a deal may ultimately take, a decision to surrender to the Chinese communist government would have numerous deleterious effects. A deal would compromise the independence of the Church in the modern world. The ramifications of a deal would affect the Church and the faithful for generations to come, raising serious questions about the validity of episcopal ordinations and claims to rightful apostolic succession.

    Persecution by the Communists

    In order to understand the magnitude of what is at stake, one must understand the state of religious oppression in China.

    Open Doors, an advocacy organization for oppressed Christians, placed China on its 2018 World Watch List, a grouping that measures the top fifty countries in which persecution against Christians is the most severe. A 2015-2017 report from Aid to the Church in Need labeled the level of Christian persecution in China as “Extreme” and asserted that the level of Christian persecution is “Worsening.”

    The 2017 Annual Report by the United States Congressional-Executive Commission on China reported “widespread and systematic violation of the principles of religious freedom as Chinese authorities exercised broad discretion over the religious practice of Chinese citizens.” According to a comprehensive Freedom House report released last year, religious control has intensified since 2012, when President Xi Jinping assumed power. As the report details: “Security forces across the country detain, torture, or kill believers from various faiths on a daily basis.” In addition: “Extensive surveillance, ‘reeducation’ campaigns, and restrictions on private worship affect the spiritual lives of millions of people.”

    Just last year, the bishop of Mindong was imprisoned and sentenced to a reeducation camp. Priests of the underground church have been arrested, beaten, and physically tortured in attempts to coerce them into joining the Communist-approved “Catholic” Church. Priests have been sentenced to forced labor camps, and both priests and bishops have disappeared after being arrested. One arrested underground bishop has been missing for over twenty years.

    At the end of 2017, it was reported by local Chinese government officials that Christian families in an eastern provincial town had allegedly volunteered to remove over 600 religious images in their homes and replace them with over 400 portraits of President Xi. Government officials alleged that they were “converting” people successfully to government loyalty, although one priest claimed that the residents were bribed. Officials are reported to have said that the Christians involved “recognized their mistakes and decided not to entrust to Jesus but to the Party.”

    As recently as February 1, harsher religious restrictions went into effect that, among other things, make non-state-controlled religious gatherings of young people illegal. Dispatches report that clergymen have been told to alert young people that they are no longer allowed on religious premises.

    In December, a Catholic church in Zhifang, which had been used for worship since 1999, was demolished by the Chinese government for no apparent reason. Worshippers were not permitted to save any sacred artifacts from the church. A campaign in Zhejiang Province to remove crosses from all Catholic and Protestant churches has netted the destruction of thousands of these Christian symbols. Some worshippers resisted, like those of the Salvation Church, who encircled the church in the midst of hundreds of riot police. The result of this quest to save a cross from government destruction was fifty civilian injuries.

    The cultish propaganda surrounding President Xi has intensified—at levels some report are the highest since the days of Mao Zedong—following a Communist Party amendment to its charter last year. The amendment gave President Xi power unmatched since Mao and bestowed on him official recognition mirroring the national reverence accorded to Mao.

    In 2016, Xi said, “We must resolutely guard against overseas infiltrations via religious means,” and that “in no way should religions interfere with government administration, judiciary and education.”

    According to Church teaching, a government interfering with the natural rights of free religious expression is committing serious error:

    All the more is it a violation of the will of God and of the sacred rights of the person and the family of nations when force is brought to bear in any way in order to destroy or repress religion, either in the whole of mankind or in a particular country or in a definite community.

    Millions of Chinese sacrifice daily for the freedom to worship the Trinity as their God in communion with Rome. Rather than appeasing and capitulating to the Chinese government, the Vatican would do well to admonish it instead. For, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church declares, “The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modern times with ‘communism’ or ‘socialism.’” Indeed, the Chinese’s government’s proper role, according to Vatican II’s Dignitatis Humanae, “is to assume the safeguard of the religious freedom of all its citizens, in an effective manner, by just laws and by other appropriate means.”

    The Underground Catholic Church in China

    The ruling Communist Party has attempted to exert complete control of Catholicism in China, prohibiting the free exercise of true Catholicism. The government interference has led to a hidden underground Catholic Church in communion with Rome whose members sacrifice considerably to worship outside government control. Estimates of the Chinese Catholic population range from 9 million to 10.5 million and up to 12 million, with half or more estimated to be in the underground church.

    Cardinal Joseph Zen, a former Hong Kong bishop and an outspoken advocate for the oppressed Catholics of China, wrote in late January that signing the accord would mean “that the Vatican is selling out the Catholic Church in China.” In February, Cardinal Zen characterized a potential deal on the bishops by Vatican negotiators as “a surrender.” (He also claimed that Pope Francis is not aware of the reality of what is happening in China and is being led and counseled by a negotiating delegation that overzealously desires a deal.)

    The potential deal would disregard those of the Catholic underground who have sacrificed and defied the government in order to remain faithful to Rome, signaling to those Catholics that for naught have they remained faithful to the Church. Further, if a deal is made, as Cardinal Zen wrote, “Priests and believers will soon have to obey and respect those who are today illicit.”

    Two of the dioceses, those of Shantou and Mindong, are said to have larger underground Catholic communities than open communities. Both of the underground communities are led by their own bishops. The Vatican is said to have asked both of these underground bishops in December to resign and to recognize officially the two government-chosen bishops, one of whom was excommunicated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011.

    In his first interview since the headlines broke, one of those prelates, Bishop Guo Xijin of Mindong, who has spent time in prison and is currently under police surveillance, said that he will ultimately “obey Rome’s decision,” so as not to sever ties with the Vatican. Bishop Guo, however, does not foresee a deal making the Communist government change its hostile position toward free Catholic worship.

    Indeed, in President Xi’s own words, he desires to “guide religions to adapt to the socialist society.” To argue that the Communist Party, especially under President Xi, will ever adapt to Catholic authority from Rome dismisses current knowledge of the situation in China, of history, and of the political thought of Marxism and communism. One must consider the words of Cardinal Zen: “A church enslaved by the government is no real Catholic Church.”

    Communism Is Not Compatible with Catholicism

    The appeasement of a totalitarian, autocratic, and authoritarian regime is a mistake that often results in dreadful consequences. Appeasement most especially will not work for the Church. To the Communist Party, the Catholic Church is a formidable foreign enemy with internal agents who are a threat to its power and control. History’s totalitarian regimes have all feared organized religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular.

    Further, appeasement to a communist country ignores Catholic teaching that is staunchly against communism. If the plan is adopted officially by the Chair of Saint Peter, the Vatican will be bowing to the demands of an oppressive regime that acts in opposition to a corpus of Catholic teaching on the inherent dignity and rights of persons, as well as on the responsibilities and limits of civil government. For the Catechism teaches: “No one can command or establish what is contrary to the dignity of persons and the natural law.”

    The Church also teaches: “Respect for the human person entails respect for the rights that flow from his dignity as a creature. These rights are prior to society and must be recognized by it.” The Chinese government, however, infringes on the people’s natural rights, which for the Church includes the right to free religious expression. In China, Catholics are allowed to worship legally only under the guidance and the regulations of the state-controlled Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, which the Vatican does not, as of now, consider to be genuinely Catholic.

    The possible decision by the Vatican cannot be considered “dialogue.” Rather the possible deal must be characterized as a compromising appeasement to a hostile foreign power. Authoritarian communist states do not believe in honest dialogue; all others are but means to be used in order to bring them to their end, the means to which entails doing whatever is necessary to dominate and to subdue the faithful in order to maintain power.

    The potential appeasement would delegitimize the Church’s own authority in decision-making within her own institution and give credence to the authority of an oppressive, atheistic, and authoritarian communist regime to choose prelates for the Catholic Church. The move would not only set a precedent in China, but also potentially seduce other oppressive governments to test the authority of the Church and meddle in its affairs, while also emboldening other governments to inhibit free Catholic worship.

    The Church has no political party and claims no political identification, but it does intervene in politics when necessary. According to the Church’s own teaching, it enters politics as an outsider in order to ensure that the common good is being met and that the dignity of every person is being respected. The Church does not enter the political realm to appease a regime that seeks control of the Church or one that oppresses, tortures, abuses, imprisons, and murders the religious for their beliefs.

    If anything, the Church should be entering politics in China in order to rebuke the regime for its violation of the natural rights of the oppressed and abused Chinese faithful.



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    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
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  13. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member

    Cardinal Zen torches the Vatican and his
    critics over China deal


    WASHINGTON D.C., March 9, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Zen was on fire Thursday night as he spoke with Raymond Arroyo on EWTN’s The World Over.

    “We now know that one of President Xi’s goals is to inculcate communist thought and blend it with theology,” said Arroyo. “Are you concerned that the Vatican is playing into his hands? His stated goal is to blend the communist agenda with existing religions. Is that what’s happening here?”

    “It’s obvious,” answered Zen. “They are delivering the whole administration of the Church into the hands of the so-called ‘Patriotic Association,’ which is just a puppet in the hands of the government. And so it’s a complete surrender. It’s incredible.”

    The Pope is being advised to renounce his authority


    “Now you have blamed the Pope’s advisers for this deal,” noted Arroyo. “You have said it’s ‘suicide;’ you say it’s a shameless act of surrender.”

    “I am not a cartoonist,” said Zen, while actually painting a vivid picture for the audience, adding that if he were, “I would make a cartoon showing the Pope kneeling, and offering the keys of the kingdom of heaven, saying, ‘Now, please, recognize me as Pope.’”

    Cardinal Zen was describing the absurdity of the Vatican’s pending capitulation to China’s communist regime, pointing out that they already fear him. In essence, Rome already holds most of the high cards, yet they seem to want to forfeit the game in order to gain diplomatic stature.

    “This is ridiculous,” he said. “They are afraid of the Pope. But now the advisers to the Pope are giving him advice to renounce his authority.”

    [​IMG]

    Chuckling at Bishop Sorondo
    Last month, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences said, “Right now, those who are best at implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese.”

    Arroyo asked Cardinal Zen, “What did you think when you heard that?”

    “Please, leave him in peace,” chortled Zen. “We don’t have to waste time talking about that.”

    “So you don’t think China is living out the social teaching of the church, I take it?” countered Arroyo, also trying to overcome the urge to burst into laughter.

    Zen responded, saying Sorondo’s statement “made everybody laugh. It’s a good laugh. Yeah”


    Zen dismisses Fr. Kelly’s nasty criticism


    [​IMG]

    Fr. Michael Kelly, the Jesuit priest who serves as executive director of the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN), had written a commentary about Cardinal Zen that Arroyo described as a “nasty piece.”

    “Cardinal Zen not only needs to read a bit more history,” said the Jesuit. “He also needs to turn the emotional volume down. It’s some claim to be speaking for half the Catholics in China when he has no evidence to support the assertion about people living in a country he hasn’t visited for over 20 years. Moralize all you like, but Cardinal Zen offers no path forward.”

    “I would leave it to the people to judge who is more emotional,” said Zen, turning the tables. “I find his article very much emotional.”

    Cardinal Zen went on to point out that he and Kelly were supposed to meet “We had an appointment. I invited him to lunch, but he didn’t show up.”

    He also refuted Fr. Kelly’s claim of being ignorant about what is currently going in China, saying that from his “direct, immediate experience” living and teaching in mainland China for seven years, “I know the Church is completely enslaved to the government.”

    They are going to 'annihilate the Underground Church'
    “I don’t think anybody has a clear picture of what is going to happen,” said Zen, “because now we are alarmed by those two cases of the legitimate bishops asked to” yield their places to bishops who were previously excommunicated. But they don’t talk about the other five cases.”

    Cardinal Zen was alluding to the fact that while international media have focused on the Vatican’s negotiations with China’s communist regime over two high-profile cases, there are five other excommunicated bishops that the Chinese government plans to reinsert into church leadership.

    Among the five, said Zen, there are two of whom “everybody knows have wives and children.”

    Zen went further, saying a bigger question should be asked: “What will happen to the 30 bishops in the underground? They will be brought into ‘the cage.’ That’s terrible!” exclaimed the Cardinal.

    “They are going to annihilate the underground Church,” he added.

    “And not only that,” he said, “even in the ‘official’ church there are so many good bishops, they are there, suffering, even fighting, and the government is forced to tolerate them. But now with this new arrangement, they lose every hope in the future.”

    Ominous warning: ‘Back to the catacombs’
    “I think we must have a spirit of perseverance and be ready for martyrdom … in order for the Catholic faith to spread in China,” warned the Cardinal at the conclusion of the interview.

    “People are saying that ‘Cardinal Zen is pushing everybody to be martyrs,’” said Zen. “Now, I never pray for martyrdom,” but if God wants this for us, “it is a grace, and he will give us the strength.”

    “We have to pray, because what is coming is a tragedy,” he said, “and will weaken the faith, and we are going back to the times of the catacombs.”

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  14. Admin

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    China arrests Catholic bishop. Laity say he refused to celebrate Easter with illegitimate bishop


    ROME, March 27, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A Chinese bishop whom the Vatican asked to step aside to make way for an excommunicated and illegitimate bishop has been arrested by police in China.

    Asia News has reported today that His Excellency Vincent Guo Xijin, Bishop of Mindong (Fujian), and the chancellor of the diocese, Fr. Xu, were arrested by the police last evening.

    According to reports, at 3:00 pm on Monday, Bishop Guo, 59, was called into the office for religious affairs where he met with government officials for over two hours. The content of the discussion is still unknown. At 7:00 pm he returned to his residence and prepared his bags to depart. At 10:00 pm he was taken away.

    Last year, Bishop Guo disappeared at the hands of Chinese police just before Easter and reappeared 20 days later.

    Representatives of the underground Church in China say Bishop Guo was taken away for having refused to concelebrate the Easter liturgies with Bishop Zhan Silu, an illegitimate and excommunicated bishop approved by the Chinese authorities.

    Earlier this year Bishop Guo was asked by the Vatican to cede his office to Zhan Silu. According to the proposed agreement, Guo was to assume the title of auxiliary bishop of the diocese.

    The authentic Catholic Church, headed by bishops approved by the Holy See, is often referred to as the “underground” Catholic Church in China. The government runs the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.

    Another legitimate bishop, His Excellency Zhuang of Shantou, was similarly asked to cede his post to an excommunicated government-approved bishop, in a Vatican-led effort to seek an agreement with the Chinese government.

    The move has been hailed by some as signaling a historic agreement between the Vatican and the Chinese government over the appointment of bishops. Yet others, including Hong Kong’s highly respected Cardinal Joseph Zen, have sharply criticized the Vatican over the proposed deal.

    The arrest comes about two weeks after Chinese bishops appointed by the country’s communist government voiced support for the Vatican’s dealings with China that may allow the government to decide who becomes bishop. The agreement is expected at any time.

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  15. Admin

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    Heroic Blind Chinese Activist: Vatican’s ‘Deal with the Devil’ Will Humiliate, Tarnish the Church


    March 27, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – After China’s leading prelate, Cardinal Joseph Zen, earlier this year sounded the alarm, saying the Vatican “is selling out the Catholic Church in China” and giving its blessing “on the new...schismatic Church” created by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the heroic blind activist Chen Guangcheng added his voice in support of the Cardinal.

    “The Vatican’s making a deal with the devil CCP will not only humiliate the Vatican itself but it will also tarnish the church of God that it supposedly represents,” said Chen.

    While some Church prelates are asserting that times have changed and that the communist Chinese government is not what it once was, Chen offers a startling counterpoint: “It is not that China is better than it was at the time of Pope John Paul II,” noted Chen, “rather, it is that Pope Francis is far different from Pope John Paul II.”

    Scathing Critique of the Vatican’s Deal with Communist China

    If anybody has a right to speak out on the current Vatican/China controversy, it’s Chen.

    Blind from a young age, Chen Guangcheng gained international prominence more than a decade ago for bravely suing the government over its brutal “one-child policy,” which has resulted in forced abortions, estimated to be in the hundreds of millions. Chen was imprisoned by China’s communist government for his activism. In 2012 he escaped house arrest and fled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. He and his family were later allowed to leave for the United States where he is now a distinguished visiting fellow at the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America and a senior fellow at the Witherspoon Institute.

    In an article published in Chinese on Radio Free Asia last month and translated at ChinaScope.org, Chen offers a scathing commentary critical of the Vatican’s move toward capitulation, which may in fact be finalized in the coming days or weeks.

    “I was born and raised in China under the communist despotism. I personally experienced the brutal torture and persecution that the atheists of the Communist Party committed against dissidents,” said Chen. “They have no fear of God or any moral bottom line; they have committed innumerable murders with a total disregard for human life for the sole purpose of maintaining their reign.”

    Chen: The Vatican Has Abandoned Its Principles

    In response to the news that the Vatican is now hammering out the details on a deal with China’s communist regime, Chen said, “Beijing will send representatives to the Vatican to sign the agreement. This, in fact, is the equivalent of selling out God’s home to the devil.”

    “Doesn’t the Vatican understand that in China, everything depends completely on the will of the Chinese Communist Party?” he asked. “Why did the Vatican sever diplomatic relations with China in 1951 when the Chinese Communists took over? It was precisely because the CCP insisted that it must control everything, including God. After 67 years of deadlock with the Chinese Communist Party, the Vatican has abandoned its principles and now accepts the CCP’s leadership. This will be a shame in Catholic history that can never be washed away.”

    On Vatican Bishop Sorondo’s Praise for the Communist Regime

    Chen also weighed in on Vatican official, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo’s incomprehensible praise for China’s communist regime as the best in the world at implementing the social doctrine of the Church.

    “In particular, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo’s recent remarks are disconcerting. I cannot but ask: Are they pretending to be naive, or are they really that naive? Are they really trying to lead the Catholic Church, which has more than one billion followers, to make a deal with the anti-Christian and antichrist CCP?”

    Chen continued:

    In August last year, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo went to China and attended a conference on organ donation and transplantation. At that time he praised China for setting up a global best practice model for eradicating organ trafficking. [...]

    Sorondo’s willful ignorance is beyond disgusting. I would like to ask him: “Did you know that, last year, 32 college students in Wuhan inexplicably went missing? The CCP did not provide any leads in spite of the ‘Sky Eye Project’ (the CCP uses the grid in which it controls hundreds of millions of cameras to follow the movements of everyone in society). Instead it detained the reporters who called for support for the parents who lost their children!

    In China, many children were stolen or snatched while playing in the street. Their organs were later removed and sold. In addition, there are investigative reports by Falun Gong practitioners on organ harvesting as well as reports of the disappearance of some migrant workers for no apparent reason. All these appalling occurrences under the CCP’s rule demonstrate the rampant trafficking of organs in China.

    To conduct organ transplants, from the blood test, matching, and removal, to storage, transporting, and transplantation, each step is full of technical challenges. It is not something that any small triads can do. In China where the CCP has a monopoly on control, organ transplants cannot happen without the CCP’s direct involvement. Therefore, we believe that it is the CCP regime itself that monopolizes the ongoing organ transplant business. Is this the best practice model for eradicating the organ trafficking that Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo spoke of?​

    Chen and Zen

    The blind activist and the Cardinal, Chen and Zen, share nearly identical views on the Vatican’s pending deal with China.

    In an appearance on EWTN’s The World Over two weeks ago, Zen was asked by host Raymond Arroyo, “We now know that one of President Xi’s goals is to inculcate communist thought and blend it with theology. Are you concerned that the Vatican is playing into his hands? His stated goal is to blend the communist agenda with existing religions. Is that what’s happening here?”

    “It’s obvious,” answered Zen. “They are delivering the whole administration of the Church into the hands of the so-called ‘Patriotic Association,’ which is just a puppet in the hands of the government. And so it’s a complete surrender. It’s incredible.”

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  16. Admin

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    Martyrs lay down their lives for the true faith in China, but traitorous Pax Priests voluntarily betray Mother Church with impunity. The latter have everything in common with the Pax Priests of China - selling out to the devil!

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    Last edited: Apr 13, 2018
  17. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member


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    China Tears Down Crosses Again


    Authorities in China's Henan province have reportedly torn down crosses atop several churches after claims that the structures themselves were built illegally.

    "The parishes were illegally built without permission from the government," an official told China's state-run Global Times newspaper. "So we demolished their crosses."

    A representative with the Ethnic and Religious Bureau of Yichuan county, a small town south of Henan's capital, said "two or three" crosses were pulled down this year

    "Activities in the illegally-built parishes will be prohibited," the official told the newspaper. "Other legal Christian activities here will remain open."

    This latest incident comes as Chinese Christians fear a new crackdown.

    From 2014 to 2016, more than 1,500 crosses were torn down from churches in one Chinese province.

    Last week, the China's government banned online retailers from selling the Bible.

    Three months earlier, officials in Shanxi province demolished Golden Lampstand Church, home to some 50,000 parishioners.

    China watchers say these and other recent moves by the central government signal an aggressive push to limit Christianity's influence in China.

    "I think there is no religion in human society that is above the state," Chen Zongrong, a high-ranking Chinese official, recently told reporters during a briefing on religious affairs in China.

    Mr. Chen released a new government white paper report showing that China is experiencing a religious boom.

    In 1997, government figures showed China had 100 million believers among the five sanctioned religions of Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Protestantism. that number has doubled to 200 million today.

    The report claims the number of Catholics grew from 4 million in 1997 to 6 million in 2018. During the same period, the number of Protestants rose from 10 million to 38 million.

    However, most experts believe these figures are on the low end and don't take into account the burgeoning unregistered or so called "house-churches" that continue to spread throughout the country.

    The white paper also warns that any attempts to "subvert the Chinese government and socialist system under the guise of religion" will be "resolutely" dealt with.

    It further instructs all religious groups to "support the leadership of the CPC (Communist Party of China) and the socialist system; uphold and follow the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics; develop religions in the Chinese context; embrace core socialist values; carry forward China's fine traditions; integrate religious teachings and rules with Chinese culture; abide by state laws and regulations, and accept state administration in accordance with the law."

    Chen says while the report should serve as a guide for all religions, he says it is vital that people also understand the Chinese culture and environment in which they practice their beliefs in.

    "Religion must adapt to the society it is in," Chen told reporters at the briefing. "If a religion is incompatible with its society, this religion cannot survive and develop."

    Related:

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  18. Admin

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    The Communist Party now owns the Church in China


    May 3, 2018 (One Peter Five) – On March 22, the Chinese Communist Party announced that all "religious affairs" in China would henceforth be supervised by a shadowy Party office called the "United Front Department." The former government agency responsible for Catholic and other believers – the State Administration of Religious Affairs bureau (SARA) – has been summarily abolished.

    The reorganization attracted little attention outside of China, but it is certain to have unpleasant repercussions for Chinese believers. I believe that this move means that the persecution of Catholics and other believers is about to get much more intense, perhaps rising to levels not seen since the dark days of the 1950s.

    The change also means that, in all probability, the draft agreement between the Vatican and Beijing that has been under discussion for years is now a dead letter. In fact, signing it now would mean more than surrendering papal authority over the appointment of bishops to the Chinese state, as bad as that would be. Signing it now would be a betrayal of the faithful into the hands of a new Red Emperor who seems to have a particular animus towards Christians, especially Catholics, and who seems determined to suffocate and extinguish the faith throughout his empire.

    It is no secret that religious liberty – despite being guaranteed by the PRC Constitution – has always been severely restricted in the People's Republic of China. But to understand why putting religious affairs into the hands of the CCP's United Front Department bodes so ill for Catholics you need to understand the purpose of the Department and its work.

    The United Front Department was created by Chairman Mao Zedong to co-opt and control non-Communist organizations and individuals during the Chinese civil war. Its efforts were so successful that Mao called it one of the three "magic weapons" that helped to revolution to succeed. (His other two "magic weapons" were propaganda and, not surprisingly, the Red Army.)

    After the civil war, the United Front Department was re-tasked with serving the Party leadership by coercing various groups, such as intellectuals and businessmen, into actively collaborating with the newly established "people's democratic dictatorship." Now that Catholics have been brought under the Department's purview, the same kind of pressure will be exerted on them, and the same kind of active collaboration demanded of the Patriotic Catholic Church with the regime and its goals.

    The work of the United Front Department, in other words, will not be limited to merely ensuring that Catholic bishops, priests, and laity comply with the regulations governing religious activity. If that was the only issue then SARA, which was already enforcing such regulations on Catholics, would not have been abolished.

    Nor does the move simply mean that the Church will be losing the (already very limited) freedom of action it once had, although this is also absolutely the case.

    Rather, putting the United Front Department in charge of religious affairs means that the Party leadership is determined to make the Patriotic Catholic Church into an active "agent of control" for the regime with a single purpose: to subvert and undermine the faith of the millions of Catholics in China, and to prevent them from spreading the faith to others, including their own children. It is nothing less than a hostile takeover – an expropriation if you will – of the Catholic Church in China.

    Like Chairman Mao, Xi Jinping hungers for ironclad control over Chinese society and is turning to the United Front Department to accomplish this end. Channeling the late chairman, Xi likewise declared in his October 2017 speech to the National People's Congress that "United Front work is an important magic weapon for the victory of the Party's cause."

    Even Chinese officials, who are trying to sell the reorganization as a way of enhancing the "efficiency of government," acknowledge that it is an effort to assert control over believers. "It means management of religious affairs and ethnic issues will be stepped up," says Yang Shu of Lanzhou University. "And we could see the authorities taking a tighter grip than before."

    A tighter grip, indeed.

    The new "Regulations for Religious Affairs" which came into effect on February 1, are already being rigorously enforced. Students and Party members have been warned not to participate in religious activities. Churches have been told to keep minors from attending Mass, and catechism classes and summer camps are now off-limits.

    Churches continue to be defaced by having their crosses and statues removed, or even demolished entirely. Priests in the Underground Church have been ordered to register for a "clergyman certificate" so they can be monitored and supervised. Even the sale of Bibles has been banned as the United Front Department prepares a "Sinicized" – that is, Party approved – version.

    Like the other organizations controlled through the United Front Department, the Patriotic Church will henceforth be expected to behave like an arm of the Chinese Communist Party in carrying out the will of the "people's democratic dictatorship." Homilies will be expected to praise the existing order (led by "Core Leader" Xi Jinping), and to promote the official ideology (known as "Xi Jinping thought").

    As for the Underground Church, it will simply be annihilated, insofar as it is within the regime's power to do so.

    It is not hard to see that there is an irreconcilable contradiction between the impending demands of the United Front Department and the demands of the Catholic faith.

    United Front tactics will be used, as they were in the late 1950s, to complete the subversion of the Catholic Patriotic Church into an agent of the state. Then the Church itself will be used to force the ideological assimilation of all Chinese Catholics into the political order – the people's democratic dictatorship – that Xi Jinping controls. It is impossible not to conclude that Xi's ultimate goal is that same as Mao's was, namely, the total eradication of this "foreign" religion from the soil of China.

    Urge Pope Francis to stand with persecuted Catholics in China. Sign the petition here!

    The agents of this subversion will be Patriotic Catholic Bishops like Bishop Peter Fang Jianping of Tangshan, one of three compromised bishops who are members of China's rubberstamp parliament, the National People's Congress.

    Bishop Fang eagerly promotes Xi Jinping's call for the "sinicization of religion," which is the idea that religion should chiefly serve the interests of the Chinese Communist Party that Xi himself leads. The reason why Catholics should support the Party and its leader, according to Fang, is "because we, as citizens of the country, should first be a citizen and then have religion and beliefs."

    Such a formulation – which gives the Chinese Caesar pride of place – leaves no doubt where Bishop Fang's primary loyalty lies.

    Faced with a similar choice between secular and sacred authority, St. Thomas More famously said, "I am the King's good servant, but I am God's first."

    Bishop Fang would turn More's affirmation of the faith on its head. He is saying, in effect: "I am God's good servant, but I am Emperor Xi's first."

    While it is true that the English bishops, with the exception of the martyred Cardinal John Fisher, followed Henry VIII into schism, one might add that at least Henry still claimed to be Christian.

    Fang and some of his fellow Patriotic bishops, several illicitly ordained, are in effect endorsing the creation of a state church headed by a Communist dictator intent upon its destruction.

    This is obviously a nonstarter for faithful Chinese Catholics, whose primary loyalty is to the Magisterium, not to the current leader of the Communist Party. While Bishop Fang may insist that all Chinese Catholics follow him into schism, it is safe to say that most will not do so. Many will continue to practice their Catholic faith in the Underground Church, while others will leave the faith entirely.

    If the Vatican signs an agreement with the Party leadership accepting the newly "Sinicized" Patriotic Church, it will only exacerbate an already worsening situation. It will be seen as a rank betrayal by the Chinese faithful, and might well accelerate their exodus from the Church.

    Bishop Fang's new puppet masters at the United Front Department, on the other hand, would be delighted to have the Vatican endorse the schismatic national church that they now control. The demoralization of the faithful that would follow the signing of such an agreement would be an added bonus, since it would help them to achieve their ultimate goal: the wholesale elimination of Chinese Catholicism.

    The Vatican needs to stop hobnobbing with those members of the Patriotic Church, such as Bishop Fang, who are wholeheartedly collaborating with the same Communist Party leadership that is daily tightening the screws on our co-believers in China.

    Instead, the Holy Father should be leading us in offering up fervent prayers and concrete aid to the suffering Church in China. If the past is any guide, the suffering and persecution of our co-believers in China is about to get much, much worse.

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  19. Admin

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    A Glimmer in Korea, But From China the News Is Bad
    7th May

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    > All the articles of Settimo Cielo in English


    *

    The political news concerning the two Koreas has also kindled new hopes on the fate of the Catholic Church in the North.

    South Korea is the only Asian country in which Catholicism is on the rise. But in North Korea, the advent of the communist dictatorship annihilated any visible trace of it. The 57 parishes that used to be there have disappeared. And Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, archbishop of Seoul, has never been able to set foot north of the 38th parallel, in spite of the fact that he is also the apostolic administrator of Pyongyang, the capital of the other Korea.

    On May 4, Cardinal Yeom gave an interview to the former ambassador of Seoul to the Holy See, Thomas Han, published by “Asia News,” the online agency of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions. And he did not rule out the possibility - in spite of everything - that in the North there could continue to be “lay faithful who still live their faith and preserve the memory of sacramental life.” His hope - he said - is that they may “return to living in full faith in the Church just as before.”

    In other words, it is the conviction of the South Korean cardinal, but not only his, that in North Korea there could be “hidden Christians” like those who kept the faith alive for two centuries in Japan, under persecution, without priests or bishops. And one day they could come into the open, if only spaces of freedom could be opened for them.

    Questioned recently about North Korea, cardinal secretary of State Pietro Parolin also expressed confidence in positive political developments. But he did not say anything about the future of the Church.

    On the contrary. He also showed caution concerning the fate of the Catholic Church in neighboring China. To the question: “At what stage are the Holy See's negotiations with the Chinese government?” he answered as follows :

    “Dialogue has been going on for a long time, with a lot of patience and with successes and failures. Someone said: it is like the ‘dance of Saint Vito,’ two steps forward and one step back. Anyway, we are proceeding, this is important.”

    Parolin insisted on “religious freedom” as the true objective of the negotiation. A freedom that does not exist in China, because if it did - he said - “there would be no need to negotiate.”

    In effect, the news coming from China in recent weeks has not been encouraging at all.

    On April 20, “Asia News” and “UCA News” published dramatic reports on the wave of repression that is battering the Catholic community in the province of Henan.

    Henan is traditionally considered the cradle of Chinese civilization. It occupies the great plain halfway between Beijing and Shanghai, and numbers 100 million inhabitants. Catholics make up a small minority of them. Among a dozen or so dioceses only one of them, that of Anyang, is governed by a bishop recognized by the Chinese government, while the others are vacant or governed by “underground” bishops, devoid of official recognition.

    But the repression has fallen indifferently on them all. In Anyang, even though the bishop is “official,” there have been raids on the churches, crosses have been knocked down, a kindergarten has been closed, and a sign has been posted on the doors of the cathedral forbidding entrance for anyone under the age of 18, a ban that is now being applied all over China and is increasingly applied to any kind of “religious education,” not only in the churches but also in catechism centers and schools.

    In Zhengzhou, where the diocese is vacant, the security forces even raided a church on Easter, during the Mass, to take the children out by force. And then guards were stationed at the doors of the churches, to deny access even to mothers with children in their arms.

    In the diocese of Luoyang a crew demolished the tomb of Bishop Li Hongye, who died in 2011 after spending decades in forced labor or under arrest. And a church has been rased to the ground in the village of Hutuo.

    In the diocese of Zhumadian the church of Gadazhang has been closed and sealed (see photo).

    For a complete presentation of the report:

    > Church crackdown intensifies in China's Henan province


    With a commentary by the director of “Asia News,” Fr. Bernardo Cervellera:

    > A healthy scepticism of China. Vatican agreement, does not mean we are "against the Pope"

    So if this is what the Chinese authorities are doing in the thick of the negotiations with the Holy See, one can certainly understand Cardinal Parolin’s caution.

    As also the firm opposition of Cardinal Zen Zekiun, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, to an agreement that - seeing the behavior of the counterparty - would in reality be a concession for the Church, “with everything to lose and nothing to gain.”

    ----------

    With regard to the negotiation between the Holy See and China over the procedure for appointing future bishops, it must be kept in mind that last March 29 the director of the Vatican press office, Greg Burke, officially stated - in response to questions from journalists - that “there is no imminent signature of an agreement between the Holy See and the People's Republic of China.”

    The topic was revisited on May 2 by the Jesuit Bern Hagenkord, director of the German section of Vatican Radio, with a curious article on Vatican News that does not reveal anything new but emphasizes - right in the title - that the negotiation over the appointment of bishops “is not the waving of a magic wand” that could resolve all the existing problems.

    Evidently Fr. Hagenkord and the actual director of Vatican News, Monsignor Dario Viganò, did not evaluate the impact that the expression “magic wand” has in China. And in fact there has been no shortage of polemical reactions, in particular on the part of the priest and blogger Shan Ren Shen Fu, who has lamented how with that article the Vatican has lapsed into tawdry language, giving it to be understood that “in the negotiations it has always been arrogant.”

    In China the expression “magic wand” means “rod of the devil.”

    Chiesa News

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