The majority of Chinese faithful have no interest in China-Vatican dialogue. They are not affected by the Patriotic Association. This is a mere instrument of government policy.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - "The life of the faithful is the same before and during the China-Vatican negotiations": This is the opinion of a well-known blogger priest regarding the article published last week by Card. John Tong on "The future of Sino-Vatican dialogue from the ecclesiological point of view". The blogger, whose nom de guerre is "Shanren Shenfu" (the hermit priest), notes that the faithful in China are rather indifferent to the progress of talks. He also states that the faith of Chinese Catholics is not affected by the Patriotic Association, which has no power over them. This association, he says, "is a pure and loyal executor of government orders."
The Sino-Vatican agreement seems to be reaching a conclusion. Cardinal Tong of Hong Kong Diocese wrote two articles in August of 2016 and February of 2017 about this agreement: If the Agreement of Sino-Vatican is published, would you accept it? Although many experts on the Church in China consider that the agreement has so far not been reached, it is on the way.
Anyhow, Card. Tong has written two articles as if he is preparing to announce the agreement publicly. He would like to console the underground community: You do not need to be in sharp opposition; Pope Francis’s flexible and pragmatic diplomatic policy will definitely bring true freedom for the Church in China; we should believe in the wisdom of Pope Francis.
It seems that every time Church official talk about “Sino-Vatican negotiations”, there are complaining voices. This complaint is not common in the Chinese church, that is, the vast majority of people do not pay much attention to “Sino-Vatican relations.” Voices of dissent in the Church are not common. Their faith life is the same before and after “Sino-Vatican negotiations.”
Jesus and the traditional Catholic Church remain unchanged in hearts of faithful. The Patriotic Association does not have any influence on them. The Patriotic Association seems to be influent only when the government decides it to be. Every time there is a self-election and illegitimate ordination of bishops, or the bishop of Shanghai is retired from office and dismissed from his post, then the Patriotic Association becomes useful.
According to all my experiences, the Patriotic Association unconditionally implements government orders; the Patriotic Association must be in a condition to comply with the laws of the church.