The illegitimate ordination of underground priest Dong Guanhua (condemned by Bishop Jia Zhiguo) is shaking the Church in China and is creating multiple, painful fractures. A priest from the official Church expresses his weariness: too many divisions threaten to kill the Church. He asks everyone to follow the Pope in his efforts towards greater openness and mercy.
Beijing (AsiaNews) - Comments, stances, opinions about the ("private") illegitimate episcopal ordination of Hebei’s Fr. Dong Guanhua. The priest in the underground community decided to be ordained and promises to ordain other underground bishops criticizing Pope Francis’ dialogical attitude towards the Chinese government and even criticizing Benedict XVI and his Letter to Chinese Catholics in which he put an end to the special powers of the underground church in China. During the long period of persecution, in fact, this Church was given the authority to ordain bishops - in an emergency - without papal mandate, which would generally arrive later.
Fr. Dong’s extremist and unrealistic attitude is likely to be harmful to the entire experience of the underground community. Some strongly condemn the whole underground community although it was precisely an underground bishop, Msgr. Julius Jia Zhiguo to communicate the excommunication of Fr. Dong.
Among the many comments being posted by Catholics on the social networks, we have already presented the in depth reflection of a priest, Fr. Peter. Today we present another comment, written by a priest of the official community who simply describes himself as "The hermit priest" and who is rather well known online. His comment on the situation after the illegitimate ordination, is a call to follow Pope Francis in his attitude of mercy in imitation of Christ, in the confusing and conflicting situation (between official and underground, "patriotic" and "faithful") that exists now in the Church in China, because the Pope is at the helm, he is the captain of the ship of the Church. The title of the article, "Oh captain, my captain" is inspired by the movie "Dead Poets Society". Such as far reaching conflict as this is exhausting for priests in China, and requires the conversion of all.
Below we publish an ample translation of the article in question. The Chinese edition carries the integral text. Translation by AsiaNews.
Fr. Ge Xiangping died, Fr. Li Po died, Fr. Liu Zhanfang died, Fr. Song Kexun is hospitalized with a stroke, Fr. Dong Guanhua had himself ordained bishop privately and is ordaining another ... All the priests seem to live to die encountering unexpected difficulties. Recently, one of my teachers asked me: Is Fr. Ge tired? Yes, in China with this particular system, to be a priest is tiring. The problems are: Whether to be faithful or not; to love the Motherland or not; to be ordained bishop or not; to build the church or not; care for territories or not; do administration or not; obey or not. On the whole, it is strange to be a priest and we can become tired unto death.
The question of whether or not to be faithful should regard bishops, and priests must follow the bishops. If the Bishop remains faithful, priests urge the faithful to follow him, ad in this way you can avoid problems. The question of whether or not to love the Motherland regards all Chinese: we as Christians must not give up our nationality. The Communist Party loves the Party, the Chinese love their country, we are Chinese and we are Christians, if we do not pay the tax of patriotism (adhering to the Patriotic Association) do we really go against divine and human duties?
In the Church in China, the faithful can be patriotic, and similarly the patriotic can be faithful. Priests should not fight each other all day long about being faithful and patriotic: you are patriotic, I'm faithful. So it would be strange if you do not tire them until they die! Worry and exhausting themselves to death and, what's more, dragging the faithful to tire for this same reason to the point of death!
Fr. Dong Guanhua, after he had himself ordained bishop privately, cannot be considered representative of the true Church. He exploits the term 'faithful' to perform an action which excludes fidelity: this really creates confusion among Catholics. Exploiting the word ‘faithful' to attack and condemn each other: this is the root cause of confusion of the Church in China! Attacking each other is useless: Who should obey who, so criticism and complaints rain down on the 'conciliatory' policy of the Vatican, dragging the Holy See into the cauldron of confusion of the Church in China.
A thousand mistakes do not a truth make; hundreds of cases of illegitimate ordinations do not constitute a good reason to take the initiative to start ordaining illegally. Usually the opportunists seek the good opportunities for themselves in others' mistakes, but opportunism never reaches the truth. In the last century, the Church in China suffered through the Cultural Revolution, after which, for 30 years it conducted secret episcopal ordinations to keep the Church faithful: it was the wisdom of the Holy Father John Paul II. To foster the unity of the official and unofficial Church, the requirement that all bishops be officially recognized, emphasizing that the Patriotic Association is not consistent with Catholic doctrine, are the great written statements by Pope Benedict XVI (his Letter to the Catholics Chinese was not put in place in China, the Directive to eliminate the patriotic Association has provoked a strong government resulting in greater control, so under the name of Patriotic Association, some illegitimate ordinations were made eliminating the good effects of the letter, and showing everyone that the Church in China will no longer accept canon law and the authority of the Holy Church, but has only a political task, allowing the state power to stay on top of pastoral authority, the temporal power of the state to overcome the eternal spiritual kingdom. Benedict XVI announced his resignation).
Implementing the Letter of Pope Benedict XVI, not conceding special faculties in the Church of China, not allowing private ordinations, fostering positive relations with the Chinese government, dialogue, negotiation, to continue the negotiations between China and the Vatican, seeking agreement: that is Pope Francis’ new diplomatic policy and in search of results.
Speaking of Fr. Dong: everyone knows that the illegitimate ordination is something wrong and most importantly signifies a papal excommunication. Perhaps because you alone do not repent, and you're not punished for the injustices of the past, feel you have the authority (in fact, the Holy Father has retracted special faculties from the Church in China) to do an action you had considered wrong in the past? As I pointed out above: a hundred illegitimate ordinations made under duress is not a good reason to seek a deliberately illegitimate ordination. A forced illegitimate ordination implies human weakness, but an illegitimate ordination deliberately sought certainly does not come from divine power. (When I was a child, my parish priest Fr. Zong Changfeng, since he had been ordained as the illegitimate Bishop of Kaifeng, was not approved by the Church: he never acted nor revealed this identity, but kept it hidden for 10 years in Xiangqiao parish, until his return to the Father. Such a spirit of obedience undoubtedly comes from divine power: this shows that the previous order had been motivated by a real concern for the future of the Church in China. After his death, Benedict XVI called him "the Bishop of Kaifeng").
The Church is a ship, the Holy Father is the captain, but today the Pope seems to be creating increasingly numerous conflicts in many people’s souls. Why? Why do we close our ears and not want to listen to his wise instructions: we consider his mercy full of love a compromise. We consider his Christian patience weakness. In practice, in our hearts we know that because of our weakness we are the ones to stoop to compromise, and because of this compromise we do not want to listen. We do not want to listen, so we feel like we have been deceived and blinded, and we believe that this is so also the case for the Holy Father. In faith we must boldly open our heart, because the Holy Father is the captain of our ship ...
The Church needs prophets who can bring good changes ... But you must constantly distinguish clearly the "courage of the prophets": is it truly to serve the Church, or is it the result of an unscrupulous conduct motivated by personal interests or the aim of causing division?
The Catholic Church has its holy tradition. What we seek is to glorify God. We have a wise and merciful sacred law (the Ten Commandments and canon law). When these are observed, we can enjoy nobility and honor in the Lord. For this, I believe that the Church is being guided by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Father together. We must obey them unconditionally, unconditionally believe in the Lord. The Holy Father continues with every effort to foment commitment to the communion of the universal Church, "who does not gather with me scatters [and divides]": these words of Christ are a warning for us all!
The hermit priest