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    » 07/01/2007, 00.00


    Cardinal Zen: “Pope’s letter to the Chinese Church represents love for truth and his children”

    The bishop of Hong Kong, Card Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, hopes that Benedict XVI’s letter to China’s clergy and faithful may be the starting point for a direct dialogue between the local Church and the Beijing government. He stresses the letter’s religious rather than its political tone.

    Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Benedict XVI’s letter to the bishops, priests, religious and faithful of China represents “precious balance achieved by the Holy Father between his passion for the truth and his love for his children” and should be “a common starting point for dialogue” between the Chinese clergy and political leaders.  These are the “impression  and . . .  hopes” expressed by the bishop of Hong Kong, Card Joseph Zen, after reading the letter published yesterday by the Holy See and addressed to the Chinese Church.

    In commenting the letter, the prelate underscores how the letter had more of a religious than a political tone and expressed hope that they “would read the Pope’s letter from this perspective.”

    Here is the full text:

    The long awaited letter from the Holy Father has finally seen the light of the day. His Holiness Pope Benedict has addressed a letter to the Bishops, priests, religious and faithful in China as he had promised to do last January.

    Indeed, it is a historical “First” that the Pope has written a letter to the catholic community in a particular region. The motive is, as is obvious, that that community has experienced so much tribulation in the last decades, that the Holy Father wants to show special concern for those his children and give them some guidelines in this seemingly crucial moment, so that they might free themselves from their unfortunate predicament.

    At the beginning of June the Vatican Secretary of State announced that “the Pope’s letter has been definitively approved”, a rather strange way of saying things: “the Pope’s letter approved by the Pope?” The fact, probably, is that even the finished text of the Pope’s letter, according to the Vatican way of doing things, would still pass through further checks or even corrections. Obviously, the finally approved letter is the Pope’s letter, with his signature.

    After a cursory vision of the rather long letter, I would like to share with the media my one impression and two hopes.

    The impression. I admire the precious balance achieved by the Holy Father between his passion for the truth and his love for his children. Only an outstanding theologian and a tender father could satisfy at the same time the demands of the truth and the kindness towards people. Blessed be God for having given us such a leader!

    On hope. The doctrine painstakingly explained by Benedict XVI, is nothing but the most traditional and universally accepted Catholic principles, belonging to the religious field, with no secret political agenda, even less with an intention of attacking anybody. My hope is that the leaders of our Country would read the Pope’s letter from this perspective and understand the true unchangeable nature of the Catholic Church.

    A second hope. The voice of our Bishops and priests in China is often prevented from reaching our leaders; now that the letter of the Pope is in the hands of our leaders, our Bishops and priests can thus refer to it directly as a common starting point for dialogue.

    The Pope insists that Bishops are the leaders of the Church and they are not to be separated from the Roman Pontiff. My hope is that our Bishops and priests stand united with the Holy Father. Let our Church in China be truly the Catholic Church recognized and respected by the rest of the World, and let it bring honour and glory to our Country on the stage of the Universal Church.

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    See also

    24/07/2007 CHINA – VATICAN
    Cardinal Zen warns against confusion surrounding the Pope’s letter to Chinese Catholics
    The bishop of Hong Kong contradicts some of the claims made by sinologist Father Heyndrickx who suggests that the papal document encourages members of the underground Church to come out into the open, ask for recognition by civil authorities and concelebrate services with officials from the official Church.

    03/07/2007 CHINA – VATICAN
    Beijing removes Papal Letter to Chinese Church from web
    Several Chinese Catholic portals uploaded the letter in simplified Chinese after its publication, but government officials “convinced” them to remove it. All the same, the letter reached the community of the faithful through different channels.

    08/01/2007 VATICAN - CHINA
    Card. Zen: “No openings for religious freedom in China”
    Speaking to AsiaNews about the address of Benedict XVI to the diplomatic corps, the bishop of Hong Kong said the pope expressed “the desire for religious freedom, a good that should not be feared.” Commenting on the pope’s angelus address on 26 December, Cardinal Zen recalled the pope’s nearness to the suffering of the unofficial church and stressed that martyrdom is a glorious act laden with meaning.

    03/01/2009 VATICAN - CHINA - HONG KONG
    Cardinal Zen asks Chinese bishops for more courage
    The bishop of Hong Kong condemns as "outdated" the celebrations of 50 years of "self-election" and "self-ordination" of Chinese bishops as promoted by the United Front, the Patriotic Association, and the Office of Religious Affairs. He is asking the bishops to follow the example of Saint Stephen, and not to offend the pope by participating in meetings sponsored by the regime to appoint the new presidents of the PA and the council of Chinese bishops, two bodies not recognized by the Holy See.

    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".

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