Chinese priest talks about the enflamed climate surrounding China-Vatican talks
by Cheng Zhi

Some media in favour of a deal speak in "disgusting" ways. Those who oppose it are not against an agreement or against diplomatic relations, but are against reaching one at any cost. "[W]here does the Church truly exercise her rights?"  The author is a priest in the underground Church in eastern China.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – As a simple believer, it is useless to say anything with regard to what is happening in China-Vatican relations. However, someone has suggested that, as a member of the Church, one has to express one’s opinion on Church affairs so as to guide people who do not know the truth. Although I would never dare to “guide” anyone by writing this article, I just want to express my point of view, which could be wrong, but is my personal statement on the matter!

Those who support Cardinal Pietro Parolin always say that opponents aim to obstruct China-Vatican negotiations and the establishment of diplomatic relations. A certain media outlet even wrote about "the recent ‘media storm’ fuelled by political motivations, attempting to relaunch the campaigns orchestrated by some groups in Hong Kong and in some sectors of the West opposed to a possible turning point in relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Vatican."

It is disgusting every time to see that news agency talk about the topic of China-Vatican relations. Now it is becoming more and more ridiculous, as its style of writing is fully aligned with that of Communist Party official media. I wonder – if the CCP were so amiable – why that news agency did not publish in other languages the interview with the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences who said that “China is the best implementer of Catholic social doctrine”. I guess that maybe even they feel embarrassed by such a slap in the face.

Well, these words have nothing to do with China-Vatican relations. What I want to say is that the opponents to a deal actually do not oppose an agreement between China and the Holy See, nor do they oppose the establishment of China-Vatican diplomatic relations. In fact, we have all along hoped for an agreement and the establishment of diplomatic relations. However, this agreement and diplomatic relations should not be achieved at the cost of abandoning the Church's longstanding disciplinary rules or her bottom line.

Furthermore, we should consider the creditworthiness of the negotiating parties. When did the Communist Party become credible since it was born out of lies? Except for its policy to impose violence on people of different ideologies – which is quite convincing – are there any other believable policies whose only aim is to maintain the stability of the government?

In other words, opponents of a deal do not oppose the agreement or the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the Vatican. What they oppose is abandoning the bottom line to achieve an agreement or diplomatic relations if the agreement brings no benefit to the Church.

What’s the point if diplomatic relations are eventually established? Look at the current situation of the Church in China. It is true that every place is different from others, but where does the Church truly exercise her rights? Where is the place that has truly implemented the law on religious freedom present in the Constitution?

Since ancient times, the Church has been the conscience of society, as it has always been the voice to criticise various injustices and evils in society. However, the current negotiations and any eventual agreement would not only see the Church lose its role as prophet and conscience of society, but would also promote the evil behaviour of the unjust.

Of course, the Church’s role as prophet and conscience of society has such little effect in today’s China, and Church law is nothing more than an blank piece of paper for the Chinese Church. Who, among the illicit bishops, has really been punished? Aren’t illicitly ordained bishops, or those who illicitly ordain others, still running their administration? Not to mention the excommunicated bishops who still ordain priests. . . . How many parish priests do support abortion? It is curious to know about two bishops who – according to rumours on the Internet – have wives and children, even though they are not the ones I personally know. . . . Faced with all these violations of the doctrine and even ethics, where is the binding effect of Church law?

Let’s get back to the government's treatment of the Church. Across the nation, there are constant episodes in which crosses are destroyed and churches closed or demolished. Minors have never been denied the right to profess their faith or even enter churches, but there are strict rules for adults to enter in churches and how long they can stay there (well, someone may say: nonsense, where are such rules? I can only tell you to thank the Lord because your place is lucky). Even the dead cannot escape (in Xinjiang, the tombstone of Bishop Xie of Urumqi, who died last summer, was removed the night of his funeral). All this is actually done by the “best implementer of Catholic social doctrine” to cite a monsignor highly placed in the Holy See.

Again, let me reiterate: What the opponents are against is the contents of the agreement and the conditions for the establishment of diplomatic relations. They do not object to negotiations or to the establishment of diplomatic relations, nor do they oppose the so-called "official Church", because the majority of that community still act for the good of the Church, even though sometimes they are forced by the authorities to take certain positions.

In any case, the agreement on the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the Vatican will surely come. But it is impossible to reach a solution by arguing online about how and when such an agreement will come about.

Of course, as Cardinal Joseph Zen said, if the Pope really ordered them to sign such an agreement, most of its opponents will still be obedient to his position. Take a step back and think about it. Even if we as the Chinese Church are different from the Universal Church, what would be the problem? Just one more community with its "own local characteristics" added to the Church!

(Picture 2 shows police holding a banner that says: "Firmly reject religion, do not believe in religion.")

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