10/12/2005, 00.00
VATICAN – SYNOD ON THE EUCHARIST – CHINA

Hong Kong Bishop says there is only one Church in China

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – There is but "one, holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman" Church in China at this point and we can no longer speak of two Churches, so much so that if the government were to acknowledge this, it will also see "the convenience of reaching a normalization" with the Holy See, Monsignor Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, Bishop of Hong Kong, said today at the Synod, explaining also that almost all the official bishops in China have actually been "legitimized by the Pope."

"The Church in China," the Bishop said, speaking in Italian, to the approximately 250 Synod Fathers, "which appears to be divided in two – an official one recognized by the government and an underground one which refuses to be independent from Rome – is actually a single Church, because everyone wants to stay united with the Pope."  "After long years of forced separation," the Bishop went on to explain, "the vast majority of bishops of the official Church have been legitimized by the magnanimity of the Holy Father."  Monsignor Zen did not specify if only by John Paul II or also by Benedict XVI.  "Especially in recent years," he continued, "it is becoming ever clearer that bishops ordained without the Roman Pontiff's approval are accepted by neither the clergy nor the faithful."  "One would hope that, in the face of this 'sensus Ecclesiae', the government of Beijing sees the convenience of reaching a normalization of the situation, even if 'conservative' elements within the official Church put up resistance for obvious, self-serving reasons."

The Bishop of Hong Kong also defined the invitation that the Pope had extended to four Chinese bishops to participate in the Synod as a "good opportunity, but it seems that it has gone wasted."  Monsignor Zen's reference to "conservative" elements in what is left of the "patriotic" Church and to their "resistance" confirms that the resistance to allow the four bishops to take part in the Synod came not so much from the Beijing government, as from the Patriotic Association.  "The Eucharist celebrated well," Msgr Zen said in conclusion, "can certainly accelerate the advent of true religious freedom for the people of China."
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