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    » 06/28/2007, 00.00

    CHINA - VATICAN

    The United Front gathers official bishops to instruct them on the Pope’s Letter



    There are fears of a fresh campaign against the Pope similar to the one in 2000, following the canonization of the Chinese martyrs. According to some priests this is the latest attempt to divide rediscovered unity of the bishops with the Pope.

    Rome (AsiaNews) – Bishops of China’s official Catholic Church have been gathered since early this morning in Huairou, 50 km north east of Beijing, “invited” to a political session of the United Front.  The theme on the agenda is how to respond to the Pope’s letter to China’s Catholics, soon to be published.

    The United Front is a state organism, which under the control of the Communist Party, carries out religious policy directives on a national and provincial level.

     AsiaNews sources in China fear that the United Front will oblige the bishops to distance themselves from Benedict XVI’s message, forcing them to make public statements eulogising the Party’s religious policies and re-vindicating the independence from the enactment of Papal directives.

    Last January, after a meeting in the Vatican with cardinals, bishops and members of the secretary of state, Benedict XVI announced his intention to write a letter to China’s Catholics.  According to indiscretions, the Chinese edition was signed May 27th, the solemnity of Pentecost.  The message traces the last decades in the life of the Church in China, signed by oppressive persecution but also by a strong loyalty of the faithful to the Pope, both in the underground Church, which is not recognised by the State, and in the official Church, recognised by the government and led by the Patriotic Association, the Party body which aims to build a Church independent of Rome.

    The Pope’s letter will celebrate unity between the underground and official Church as well as highlight the need for full religious freedom in China.

    In recent months the AP has been attempting to undermine Church unity in China, illegally ordaining bishops and arresting pastors of the underground Church.  The latest effort to throw unity between the Pope and China’s pastors into crises is more recent: an “invitation” to bishops to make their way to Beijing for the 50th anniversary of the AP and the 10 anniversary of the death of its president, the patriotic bishop Zhong Huaide, who died June 27 1997.

    Added to these patriotic celebrations was the political session of the United Front leadership (June 28th and 29th) called in Huairou.

    According to some priests in the capital, this meeting is the last in a series of attempts to lead bishops away from unity with the pope and reassert the United Front and AP control over them.

    For others, the current situation recalls events surrounding the canonization of China’s martyrs on 1st October 2000.  Months after the canonization called by John Paul II, and in the face of the great show of unity by underground and official bishops, the AP began arresting underground bishops, forcing the official bishops to sign a document critical of the Pope and the canonizations, obliging them to read the document in all Churches and make public declarations on TV and in the press against the Pope.

     

     

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    See also

    07/09/2007 VATICAN - CHINA
    Guiyang, first Episcopal ordination after Pope’s Letter
    The Holy See approves. Perhaps for the first time ever bishops and faithful from underground and official Church will celebrate together.

    02/02/2007 CHINA – VATICAN
    Pope’s letter to the Chinese Church ready “around Easter”, says Cardinal Zen
    The bishop of Hong Kong explains that the letter will contain “prudent” wording about relations between Beijing and the Holy See. It will put forward the “Vietnam model” as a good compromise for Episcopal ordination.

    25/11/2009 CHINA - VATICAN
    Card. Zen publishes a guide to Pope's letter to Chinese Catholics
    The Patriotic Association is the most obvious cause of the painful situation of the Church in China. The underground bishops must take "caution" in seeking recognition from the government. Official bishops should not advertise the ideal of an independent church and show more unity with the pope.

    29/07/2010 VATICAN - CHINA
    Card. Zen: not true that “Beijing really wants Bishops appointed by the Pope”
    There is still a long way to go in relations between Beijing and the Holy See on the appointment of bishops, which is not the result of an "agreement" but a "tug of war." The test of communion with the pope lies in the boycott of the Assembly of Representatives of Chinese Catholics. The tenacious cardinal of Hong Kong responds to an article by Gianni Valente of "30 Days".

    14/07/2009 CHINA - VATICAN
    Cardinal Zen: The Church in China two years after the Pope's Letter
    Misinterpretations of the Letter have led to confusion and distress in the underground community. The official bishops must have more courage in their faithfulness to the pope, refusing structures that are contrary to the Catholic faith. The Chinese government continues its usual policy: total control of the Church.



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    CHINA - VATICAN
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    The documentation of that violent period was burned or buried in archives. Only a few survivors speak. The persecutors are silent in fear. The burning of religious objects and furnishings in Hebei. Bishops humiliated and arrested in Henan; nuns beaten with sticks and killed, or buried alive. A persecution that "is not over yet"; Today it is perhaps only more subtle.


    CHINA
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    The bloody campaign launched by Mao Zedong killed nearly 2 million people and sent  a further 4 million to concentration camps. Every Chinese has been marked by fear. But today, no memorial service has been planned and no newspaper article has appeared. The Party’s internal struggles and Xi Jinping’s fear of ending up like the USSR. Even today, as then, there are those in Europe who keep quiet and laud the myth of China. Many are predicting a return to the "great chaos".

     


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