Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Note
against note; excommunication against excommunication, real pain against false pain; theology against base politics: in response to the
note released by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples on the ordination
without papal mandate to be held in Harbin
(Heilongjiang) July 6, the Office of Religious Affairs of China has published a
"Note" by an anonymous spokesman.
The fact would almost make one smile at the absurdity of the second-largest world economy, which defends "religious freedom" and "tolerance" and then kidnaps a priest, Fr. Joseph Zhao Hongchun, just because he is faithful to the Holy See.
With a rough and undiplomatic style the State Administration for Religious Affairs (ASAR, the new name of the Religious Affairs Bureau) yesterday through Xinhua, expressed its surprise at the Vatican's attitude, deemed "outrageous," " shocking "," full of threats", "barbaric and irrational. "
The Vatican note points out that in the Catholic Church appointments of bishops are made on the pope's mandate and those who transgress this element of faith lead to "divisions, wounds and tensions within the Catholic community in China." What is happening in Harbin in these days is proof of this, where many priests have gone into hiding in order not to participate in the illegitimate consecration of a bishop, as well as what is taking place in different parts of China, where the excommunicated bishops are deserted by the faithful and priests, who prefer to go underground.
According to ASAR, it is the exact opposite: it is the attitude of the Vatican, with its "interference and allegations" that "are restricting freedom and intolerance, undermining the healthy development of the Catholic Church in China, and bringing no benefit to the universal Church".
In this profession of love for "freedom" and against "intolerance", ASAR - a government agency! - then moves on to defend the candidate for election, Fr. Joseph Yue Fusheng, whom they describe as "devout in his faith, morally clean, honest."
It must be said that the Vatican considers Yue a good priest, but a little too weak to take on a bishops' responsibility. What the "tolerant" ASAR does not like is that there is someone who has a different opinion than thier own, especially in religious matters!
The point in fact is that the Office for Religious Affairs does not want to merely hold vigil over possible crime of religions, but to act as a sort of "pope" in purely spiritual matters.
As a result ASAR claims that its bishops, chosen by the Party with the method of "self-election" and "self-ordination", are "equal to all other bishops of the world" - as opposed to what the Vatican says - they are "legitimate" and their sacraments "valid". Perhaps someone should explain to these bureaucrats and the Middle Ages and the bishops who received their investiture from the emperor died long ago. It is enough to compare the situation in neighboring countries - Korea, Japan, Singapore, Mongolia and Vietnam even - to see how outdated they are compared to a modern country where church and state are separate and not joined in political power.
But a sense of history is one of the most lacking in the bureaucracy of the Chinese Communist Party.
The proof is in the very Note that ASAR took pains to publish widely, which states that "in the last century, in the 1950s, the threat of excommunication by the Vatican forced the Catholic Church in China to pursue the path of self-election and 'self-ordination".
These bureaucrats do not ask: why did self-election and self-ordination not occur before, in the centuries before Mao Zedong? Do they not even realize that Mao's religious policy is a foreign import, coming from Stalin's Russia?
And why in this new era for China, which seeks to purify the legacy of Mao Zedong, does this disgusting and humiliating legacy for China and for the Church still persist?
The conclusions of the ASAR Note are contradictory: while claiming to be open to dialogue with the Vatican, it demands the "freedom" (a threat) to want to continue with "self-appointed" and "self-ordained" bishops. Apart from the lack of diplomacy manifested in this position, there is a sense of fear. If it were not ordained bishops chosen by the Party bureaucrats, but personalities who are really interested in the Church and society, perhaps many complaints of corruption would come to light such as the theft of property and pocketing of resources destined for the Church and for the people, which have become the foundation of their welfare and their economic power. According to a survey by Holy Spirit Study Centre in Hong Kong under the guise of communist control, the leaders of the "religious affairs" have pocketed the proceeds for "economic affairs" to the tune of about 130 billion Yuan (about 13 billion euros).
In all of this some worthwhile advice to President Hu Jintao: in your fight against corruption and for greater morality in your Party, give full religious freedom to the Church and religions.