Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, a holy day of obligatory fast and abstinence in the Roman Catholic Church. The modern version of the Church doesn't make much of it, because that would mean talking about sin and the necessity of repentance, confession and absolution. It is a good day, therefore, to consider the plight of the underground church in China, the devout Catholics who refused to join the schismatic, Communist-sponsored Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, and remain loyal to Rome and to the practices of the Faith as understood for centuries, until the revolution of the Second Vatican Council.
The practices referred to include the naming of bishops by the Pope, not by the secular government. The Communist government of China prefers to appoint its own bishops to head up its puppet "church", and has relentlessly harassed and persecuted the bishops of the underground church, along with their priest and faithful laypeople, 1000s of whom have suffered imprisonment, torture and death. This doesn't seem to bother Pope Francis and his Secretary of State, who are presently negotiating with the Communists to recognize the puppet bishops and fold the underground church into the CPCA.
Just one prince of the Church has stood up to oppose the Vatican's imminent capitulation to the Chinese Communists. That prelate is Cardinal Joseph Zen, Archbishop Emeritus of Hong Kong. His message to the Vatican and to the world is that the Communists want to enslave the Church in China. See "Cardinal Zen again warns Vatican not sell out to Chinese Commies", WWW 26/1/18.
Today Cardinal Zen escalated his criticism of the Vatican negotiators (read: appeasers), refuting a statement in which Cardinal Pietro Parolin (aka Petrus Romanus - Peter the Roman), the Secretary of State, tried to explain away the Vatican's approach to the negotiations. Cardinal Zen charged that Cardinal Parolin ignores the dangers of Communist domination. He said that the Secretary of State "venerates the Ostpolitik diplomacy of his master Casaroli." (He was referring to Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, the Secretary of State from 1979 to 1990, who was noted for his efforts to "promote dialogue" with the Soviet bloc. See "Why the 'new' Roman Catholic Church is soft on Communism", WWW 24/8/11.)
According to Cardinal Zen, "[Cardinal Parolin] despises the genuine faith of those who firmly defend the Church founded by Jesus on the apostles from any interference by secular power." The prelate went on to accuse Cardinal Parolin of distorting the message that Pope Benedict XVI had sent in his letter to the Chinese Church. While Pope Benedict had called for unity among Chinese Catholics, Cardinal Zen said, Cardinal Parolin has promoted a false idea of unity, through a "dishonest exploitation of expressions of the letter of Pope Benedict." He said that true unity cannot be achieved as long as the Church in China is divided into "two communities with two structures based on two different, opposing principles."
Charging that the Vatican's proposed solution would mean suppressing the freedom of the independent Church, Cardinal Zen said, "Rewarding traitors? Castigating the faithful? Forcing a legitimate bishop to give way to an excommunicated one? It this not more like rubbing salt on these still open wounds?" He concluded that loyal Chinese Catholics would not accept the Vatican's approach. "Our suffering at the creation of a schismatic Church by others may be inevitable," he said, "but we cannot assist in its creation."
Dear Catholic readers, pray today and always, especially for faithful Catholics in China:
Further reading: "I still don't understand why they are in dialogue with China" (source for this report), by Cardinal Joseph Zen, on the AsiaNews.it website, 13/2/18.