Cardinal Zen: Pope’s Potential Deal With Communist China Would Betray Christ
By Michael W. Chapman | December 1, 2016 | 12:59 PM EST
Cardinal Joseph Zen. (AP)
The leading cardinal of the Catholic Church in China, Cardinal Joseph Zen, said the reported deal between the Vatican and China, to allow the Communist regime to pick (or participate in picking) which bishops will lead the Church in that country, is tantamount to “betraying Jesus Christ.”
“Could the Church negotiate with Hitler?” said Cardinal Zen, as reported in The Guardian. “Could it negotiate with Stalin? No.”
In China there is the official, Communist government-approved Catholic Church called the “Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association” (CCPA). Bishops for this church are selected by the government and the association rejects the Pope’s authority. The real Catholic Church is underground, with an estimated 7 million members, and its bishops are selected by the Pope.
The underground Catholic Church, often persecuted by the Chinese government, has been in existence since the Communist takeover in 1949-50. The CCPA, or government church, has been operating since 1957.
Because of this arrangement and the ongoing persecution of faithful Catholics in China since 1951, diplomatic relations between the Vatican and China do not exist. Pope Francis apparently is seeking to re-establish official relations.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Nov. 10 that, under the proposed deal, “Rome would commit to recognize as bishops only those clerics who first win nomination from the Patriotic Association’s bishops conference.”
“This would make the church ‘totally subservient to an atheist government,” Cardinal Zen said, as reported in The Wall Street Journal. Also, it “may require the Vatican to cut ties to the true church underground.”
Such an arrangement would constitute “a surrender,” said Cardinal Zen, 84, the former bishop of Hong Kong.
“Maybe the pope is a little naive, he doesn’t have the background to know the Communists in China,” The Guardian quoted Cardinal Zen. “The pope used to know the persecuted Communists [in Latin America], but he may not know the Communist persecutors who have killed hundreds of thousands.”
The proposed deal between Rome and Beijing would create a “fake freedom,” said Cardinal Zen, because “it’s only the impression of freedom, it’s not real freedom. The people sooner or later will see the bishops are puppets of the government and not really the shepherds of the flock.”
“The official bishops are not really preaching the gospel,” he said. “They are preaching obedience to Communist authority.”
“You cannot go into negotiations with the mentality ‘we want to sign an agreement at any cost,’ then you are surrendering yourself, you are betraying yourself, you are betraying Jesus Christ,” said Cardinal Zen.
“If you cannot get a good deal, an acceptable deal, then the Vatican should walk away and maybe try again later,” he said. “Could the church negotiate with Hitler? Could it negotiate with Stalin? No.”
“[T]he clergy need to side with the people, the poor and the persecuted, not to government,” Cardinal Zen said. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of new Christians. If that blood is poisoned, how long will those new Christians last?”