“Blessed are the peacemakers”… Should Catholics Shun Hong Kong Protests ?

While our site statistics show we have fairly regular visits from both China and Hong Kong, it strikes me that we’ve never discussed the current volatile situation in Hong Kong.  While the news media in the UK restricts itself to reporting, narrowly, on “the protests”, a quick Google search reveals that Catholics are actively participating in this action. 

Are they right to do so, albeit that they are calling for a peaceful solution?  Is participating in the street protests an appropriate way to achieve this aim?  Watching police in riot gear, ready for physical battle, brings to mind Christ’s teaching that “peacemakers” are blessed by God.  Are the Catholics of Hong Kong failing to heed Christ’s exhortation – or are they right to participate, actively, in the protests?  Is there another, better way, to achieve a peaceful solution?   

Vatican Betrayal of Chinese Faithful…Recognises Fake Government “Church”

CHINA, January 24, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – In what appears to be a capitulation to China’s communist regime, 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.

The Vatican has asked Bishop Peter Zhuang Jianjian to retire in order to allow a state-sanctioned and excommunicated bishop to take his place while “another Vatican-appointed bishop was asked to downgrade himself as the assistant of an illicit bishop,” according to a report in AsiaNews.  

Bishop Zhuang was secretly ordained with Vatican approval in 2006.  The Chinese government wants to replace Zhuang with excommunicated Bishop Huang Bingzhang, who is a member of the National People’s Congress.  Huang was previously excommunicated because he was ordained without Vatican approval.

“A letter dated 26 October demanded the 88-year-old bishop to resign to give way to the excommunicated bishop, whom the Holy See is going to recognize,” the AsiaNews report continued.  “Bishop Zhuang at that time refused to obey and rather ‘carry His Cross’ for being disobedience [sic].”

The news comes six months after Cardinal Joseph Zen, the first Cardinal from China and a key adviser to Pope Benedict XVI regarding China-Vatican relations, denounced a Vatican agreement with the Chinese atheistic Communist government. The Cardinal indirectly accused Pope Francis of backing a “fake” church in China. 

Cardinal Joseph Zen

 

“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. 

Regarding the surprising demands of the Vatican as it acquiesces to the communist Chinese government, one underground priest told AsiaNews, “We of course feel hard to accept but do we have the rights to oppose the Vatican?” He added that if things actually go this way, “I may consider to quit and leave my priesthood.”

For the most part, the genuine Catholic Church in China operates underground while the government runs the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, a counterfeit church of communist-approved and monitored clerics. Bishops and priests of the underground church, which have been loyal to the pope and not the communist government, have faced imprisonment for their loyalty to the successor of Peter. 

Last year, Cardinal Zen, the Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong and China’s highest-ranking prelate, pleaded with the Vatican not to “sell out” China’s Catholics by striking a deal with the Communist government, which seeks nothing less than “total surrender.”  

In an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews, Zen said he had been urged to speak out by Catholics who lack the freedom to speak for themselves. 

Zen said that a Vatican deal with the Chinese government would damage the Church’s credibility. After all, if the Chinese government can appoint bishops, other governments could expect to do so as well. 

“We are very much worried because it seems that the Vatican is going to make a very bad agreement with China,Zen told LifeSiteNews. “And I can understand that the pope is really naive … He doesn’t know the Chinese communists. But unfortunately the people around him are not good at all. They have very wrong ideas. And I’m afraid that they may sell out our underground Church. That would be very sad.”

“They don’t have much public voice, the underground,” Zen explained. “People who come from China to see me, they all say, ‘please, you must raise your voice. We cannot say anything’ because they have no freedom to talk. So I keep talking, but it seems that they [the Holy See] don’t listen. They don’t like to listen.”

Some Holy See officials “consider the underground, the faithful,” to be “troublemakers,” he said. And the pope has a strong desire for unity and peace but is “rather naive” about the nature of the Chinese government. [Emphasis added]

The news also comes amid reports of Christian churches being demolished in China while clerics and other faithful are being jailed for their associations with churches not sanctioned by the state. 

In what amounts to a crackdown on “Western” religions UCANews reports “Authorities in China demolished a large church in the city of Linfen, Shanxi province on Jan. 9, despite efforts by worshippers to halt the demolition and who were then pressured to remain silent, according to witnesses.” This was the third Christian church to be demolished or closed in China in two weeks.

More than 1,500 Catholic and Protestant churches in China’s Zhejiang province “have been targeted for demolition or cross removals in recent years, sources have said in a campaign against churches not coming under state control,” according to the UCANews report.  “Chinese authorities are increasingly using property regulations to remove crosses and demolish churches.”

Beginning last year, religious freedom and public worship became severely restricted in China, where the government has “physically abused, detained, arrested, tortured, sentenced to prison, or harassed adherents of both registered and unregistered religious groups,” according to a 2017 U.S. State Department report.  

The only priest of the Lishui Diocese, also in Zhejiang province, went missing shortly after Christmas when government officials abruptly took him away.   

Father Lu Danhua, ordained a priest of the underground church in 2016, was taken away by officials of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) for “‘re-educating’ on new religious regulations coming into effect Feb. 1 and that he would return after obtaining a permit to be a priest,” according to another UCANews report.

The Catholic cleric “remains missing and calls to his mobile phone have not been answered.”   Source

PRAYER FOR THE CHURCH IN CHINA

In honour of the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians (May 24), Pope Benedict XVI composed the following prayer in 2008. He asked that it be recited every year on May 24, and that May 24 be designated a World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, as an act of solidarity and solicitude with her persecuted Catholics.

“Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother, venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title “Help of Christians,” the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection. We come before you today to implore your protection. Look upon the People of God and, with a mother’s care, guide them along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens. When you obediently said “yes” in the house of Nazareth, you allowed God’s eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption. You willingly and generously co-operated in that work, allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul, until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary, standing beside your Son, Who died that we might live. From that moment, you became, in a new way, the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith and choose to follow in His footsteps by taking up His Cross. Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter. Grant that your children may discern at all times, even those that are darkest, the signs of God’s loving presence. Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China, who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love. May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world, and of the world to Jesus. In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high, offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love. Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love, ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built. Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!”

Note:  The constitution of the Chinese government guarantees its citizens “religious freedom.” However, since the Chinese Government views religion as a threat to its power, it restricts religious activities to only government-sanctioned organizations and registered places of worship. Those religious groups that do not submit to the government guidelines and are not willing to allow a secular and government agency to dictate its religious activities face severe consequences: surprise raids, heavy fines, imprisonment, and torture. Even to this day, the Chinese Government considers the part of the Catholic Church that is still underground [i.e., those in communion with Rome and the Holy Father rather than being controlled by the State] illegal. Thus, Holy Mass, catechism classes, baptism and other religious services for many Catholics that are still underground must be conducted in private homes and in secret with risks of exorbitant fines, imprisonment, house arrest, physical tortures, and labour camp internment. www.cardinalkungfoundation.org

Comments invited… 

Pope Betrays Chinese Catholics 

[Pope Francis] is preparing …to grant the communist authorities the privilege of selecting [episcopal] candidates. And he is exiling to an island in the Pacific the highest ranking Chinese archbishop in the curia, contrary to the agreement. But in China, Cardinal Zen has already taken the lead in the rebellion by Sandro Magister 

Communist appointed bishop in 2010

Communist appointed bishop in 2010

ROME, August 14, 2016 – In China, among the one hundred and nine Catholic bishops there are eight who have been consecrated at the behest of the communist authorities and who have never received the pope’s approval, thereby incurring excommunication, a couple of them with children and lovers.

But for none other than these eight, by the end of this summer or at the latest before the end of the jubilee Francis is ready to perform a spectacular gesture: a pardon.

Francis missed another stunning gesture by just a hair’s breadth last September 26, during his journey to Cuba and the United States.

That day, his touchdown in New York on his way to Philadelphia coincided with the landing of Chinese president Xi Jinping, who was expected at the United Nations. Everything had been calculated for the two to cross paths “accidentally” at the airport and exchange a greeting. Xi was aware of this ardent desire of the pope, but in the end he let it drop and the meeting did not take place.

From that moment on, however, the secret contacts between the Vatican and Beijing underwent an acceleration. In October and then in January a delegation of six representatives of the Holy See went to the Chinese capital. And in April of this year, the two sides set up a joint working group that now seems to have come to an understanding over a point that the Vatican takes very seriously: the appointment of bishops.

Since it has been in power, in fact, the Chinese communist party has wanted to equip itself with a submissive Church separate from Rome, with bishops of its own appointment ordained without the pope’s approval, beholden to a Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association that Benedict XVI called “irreconcilable” with Catholic doctrine.

A Church of the regime, therefore, on the verge of schism with its eight excommunicated bishops, contrasted with an “underground” Church with about thirty bishops earnestly faithful to the pope, which however pays all the costs of clandestinity – oppression, surveillance, arrest, abduction.

And in the middle the vast gray zone of the remaining dozens of bishops who were ordained illegitimately but then were more or less reconciled with Rome, or were ordained with the parallel recognition of Rome and Beijing but must still remain under the iron control of the communist authorities.

The bishop of Shanghai, Thaddeus Ma Daqin, ordained in 2007 with the twofold approval of the pope and the government, has been under house arrest for four years for the simple offense of having resigned from the Patriotic Association. Two months ago he retracted, but he is still deprived of his liberty. The eighty-five-year-old Joseph Zen Zekiun (in the photo), who has more freedom of speech in Hong Kong, has called “inevitable” the suspicion that this retraction was also desired by the Vatican, just to reach an agreement at any price.

That an agreement has already been reached was confirmed in recent days by Zen’s successor in the diocese of Hong Kong, Cardinal John Tong, with an open letter released in Chinese, English, and Italian that bears all the marks of wanting to prepare the faithful to make the best of a bad lot:

> Card. Tong: Communion of the Church in China with the Universal Church

Because the solution at which Tong hints is one of those against which Cardinal Zen has already raised covering fire to the point of threatening conscientious objection:

> Card. Zen: My concerns over China-Holy See dialogue and repercussions on Chinese Church

The example that is brought up most often is that of Vietnam, where the candidate for bishop is proposed by the Vatican but the government can veto him, and then on to other candidates until the government approves one of them.

But for China, the solution of which Cardinal Tong appears to have knowledge sees the roles reversed. The candidate will be selected and proposed to the Vatican by the Chinese episcopal conference. Only that this conference is a creature of the communist party, completely at the beck and call the regime, devoid of “underground” bishops and with one of the excommunicated eight as its president.

“Let us dare to believe that Pope Francis will accept nothing that could endanger the communion of the Church in China with the universal Church,” Tong wrote.

But the pope’s pardon of the eight illegitimate bishops will certainly not suffice to reassure him, Zen, and most Chinese Catholics.  Source – Sandro Magister – And click here to read Cardinal Zen’s outspoken blog post dated 17 January, 2016

Comment

If a Communist Government may choose candidates to be bishops in the Catholic Church during a period of Vatican II “Springtime”,  what was the problem with the episcopal ordinations carried out by Archbishop Lefebvre at a time of crisis?  Why the fuss?

Our sympathy must go to the Catholics doing their best to keep the Faith in the (real) Catholic  Church in China, forced to operate underground due to the ongoing persecution of priests and faithful, and now betrayed, it seems, by the Pope himself. 

Am I missing something? Is there any justification for this apparent betrayal?