01/27/2014, 00.00
VATICAN - CHINA

Card. Zen: Destruction of Church in China continues in New Year of the Horse

Paul Wang
Hope in the presence of Pope Francis is strong. But Xi Jinping's promises are proving to be empty. The Patriotic Association and the Ministry of Religious Affairs want to enslave the bishops and faithful.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - At the Angelus yesterday, Pope Francis sent his best wishes to the Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean peoples for the Lunar New Year. "I wish all of them - said the Pope -  a life full of joy and hope. May the irrepressible yearning for fraternity, which dwells in their hearts, find in the intimacy of the family a privileged place to be discovered, educated and realized.  This will be a valuable contribution to the building of a more humane world, where peace reigns".

The New Year - of the Horse - begins January 31. In an informal conversation, on the eve of the great feast, Card. Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, expresses his concern at the situation of the faithful in China.

At the beginning of the New Year how do you feel about the situation of the Church in China?

We, especially as believers, tend to be unrepentant optimists. At the beginning of a new year our wishes are that things may go better than in the past. But I can't help having a sense of impatience seeing that year after year with the passing of time things remain in a state which causes us frustration. Yes in the past year we have two new leaders on the stage, Pope Francis and Xi Jinping. Their initial moves have brought much hope; we may be led to believe that a decisive turning point is in view.

Yet you don't yield willingly to these invitations to hope?

I have immense trust in Pope Francis, he is so humble and so strong minded. And as a matter of fact a turning point could be seen as already initiated by Pope Benedict, turning from a heroic tolerance to a position of clarity. Clarity of position seems to be a characteristic feature of our Jesuit Pope, obviously a clarity blend with much kindness and tenderness, and much respect for people. But...Somebody said that Pope Francis likes tango, but it takes two to tango. Can we suppose the same good will in his counterpart?

So, you don't see a great reformer in Xi Jinping?

It seems undeniable that he has shown a certain determination in reforming his party by fighting courageously the corruption and setting up a regime of austerity and frugality for his communist comrades. But...Yes, by reforming his party his intention seems to be securing a continued absolute dominion over the people. There is no sign that he will allow in any way the people to control the party. Many experts believe it is too soon for him to take such a step, which could be dangerous, at least until he has the reins of the party firmly in hand.  Many say that we should give him some more time. But time may not work in his favour, nor in ours. While this our supreme leader takes his time, those under him carry on their work of destruction.

Work of destruction?

Yes, I don't know what other qualification we can attach to their work. With the power position they have acquired in dealing with religions, they are destroying not only the religions but also the good name of our nation. Let us come to the particular case of Catholic religion: a lay person officially retired and simply an "honorary" president is still fully active from the north to the south of the country. The director of the Religion Affairs Bureau is "running" the Church ever more ostentatiously, not even taking care to save the appearances. The only purpose of their work seems to be "enslaving" our Church (unfortunately with much success) by forcing our bishops and priests to betray their conscience, their faith. But our bishops and priests are Chinese as they are. Is it glorious to make slaves of their con-nationals? Is it a victory to be proud of? It is not only shameful in itself; it brings disgrace on our nation, in spite of its newly acquired position as a financial power.

(Photo: Card. Zen in a demonstration calling for the release of Msgr. Ma Daqin, Bishop of Shanghai, under house arrest - UCAN)

 

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