Sunday, June 15, 2014

China -- not a good place to be a democrat or a Catholic

China may be far from Walt's decrepit body, but it is never far from his mind. [Or what passes for it. Ed.] I pray especially -- and hope Catholic readers of WWW will too -- for Chinese Catholics who, if they wish to be loyal to and in communion with Rome, must worship in secret, as did the first Christians. Here's a picture of worshippers at an "underground church" in Yunjiang.

They are gathering in someone's home, because the few church buildings still existing in China are owned by the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, the schismatic "church" set up by the Communists following the revolution of 1949. 1000s of Catholics, including priests and even bishops, went over to the CPCA, but other 1000s belong to the "underground Church", the True Church recognized by Rome.

Last month the underground Church lost one of its dwindling number of priests. Father John Peng Weizhao, the apostolic administrator of the Yujiang diocese, was arrested on May 30 by agents of the Communist "religious affairs department". His current whereabouts are unknown. Eyewitnesses told UCANews they were saddened -- but not surprised -- when the officials who were on hand when Father Peng was arrested now say that they know nothing about him.

Meanwhile, Joseph Cardinal Zen, the retired Archbishop of Hong Kong, has repeated his support for a democracy initiative in that "Special Administrative Region" of China. The prelate told AsiaNews that the people of Hong Kong will "hit back if they are repressed and forced to be enslaved."

Cardinal Zen is well known not just at the Vatican but to Catholics and human rights activists around the world, thus is unlikely to be treated in the same way as Father Peng. He has taken a prominent public role in support of a referendum calling for true democratic elections in Hong Kong. In a radio interview, he criticized a "White Paper" issued by the Beijing government, which stressed China’s "comprehensive sovereignty" over the region. In the Cardinal's view, the Communists may have sovereignty over the bodies of Hong Kong's people... but not their souls.

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