Card. Zen’s visit to Shanghai may be a trap set by Beijing
by Card. Joseph Zen Zekiun, sdb
According to some commentators, on his visit to Shanghai the, cardinal advised the local bishop to attend the meeting of Catholic representatives, a body that the pope considers "incompatible with Catholic faith." The Cardinal responds.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - On 11-12 October, Card. Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, was allowed to visit the city of Shanghai after six years. During his strictly controlled visit he was also allowed to meet with Mgr. Jin Luxian and Xing Wenzhi, ordinary and auxiliary bishop of the city. Despite the heavy surveillance, the cardinal was overjoyed at the opportunity of the visit.

However in recent days some comments regarding this visit have appeared on the website among which that of a certain "Yi Feng" who refers that after meeting with Zen Msgr. Xing Wenzhi decided to participate in the Eighth National Assembly of Chinese Catholic representatives. There is an ongoing and charged struggle over participation at this event: the Patriotic Association wants this to elect a new head of the "independent" Church, separated from the Holy See, but the Pope has rejected the meeting and its purposes as opposed to Catholic faith. For this reason Card. Zen and the Vatican itself have on many occasions advised bishops not to participate.

The comment of "Yi Feng" (perhaps someone writing for the Chinese government) seems to imply that Mgr. Xing was advised by Card. Zen to attend the meeting. We publish the response from the Cardinal of Hong Kong.

In the past days, there was much “traffic” on the Internet site It was caused by some malicious comments on my trip to Shanghai and on what I said on my return (see: by a certain Yi Feng and some of his followers. I could just ignore the whole thing, but for the sake of my brothers who frequent the website, I feel obliged to make some clarifications.

I made a visit of two half-days (not “two and a half days”) to Shanghai, to visit my old friend Bishop Jin Lu Xian, who is 95 years old, and the Bishop Xing Wen Zhi, my colleague in the Sheshan Seminary for 7 years. The occasion was the World Expo.The purpose of the trip was simple and very limited: a sentimental reunion with old friends, but still worthwhile and I am grateful to my friends who succeeded to obtain permission for such a trip. My criticism on my return (see:, 15/10/2010 Card. Zen’s "great joy" at first visit to Shanghai in 6 years) was not against those my friends and all who gave me the welcome, but against the “System” of which we all are victims.

I did not complain about the surveillance, it is an obvious part of the System. I could not ask to see my brothers in the underground community, it is unthinkable in the System. Some suggest that I should have gone to the top of Sheshan hill and call everybody to abandon the Patriotic Association. I do not think it would be fair for me to embarrass my friends who did much to obtain the permission for me in spite of no promise on my part not to criticize the Government on my return.

Within that System, I could not expect to have long talks with the Bishops on the future of the Church, but that was not necessary. “Heart to heart speaks”, I would say, quoting the new Blessed John Henry Newman.

The only explicit thing Bishop Jin told me was: “Cardinal Zen, we are in One Country Two Systems”. My answer was: “Sure, we can only work hard for the Church, each one in his System. God is able to bring everything to a good conclusion.”

When putting my gift, the pectoral cross, on Bishop Xing, I said: “This cross is light, but the one on your shoulders may be much heavier.”

I did not talk about the “pork Shanghai-style” with Bishop Jin. It was on the occasion of the banquet offered by the Director of the Coordinating Office of the Expo that I did so. I did not complain against the Director for not discussing the big issues about our country. Actually, what I said on my return was: “We are both well-educated and mature persons who love our Country. But according to the System we were supposed to avoid such thorny discussion.”

Now let me come to the main point, where Mr. Yi Feng took great pleasure in what he thinks he discovered as interesting coincidences.

1. Yi Feng says: “Every time Zen comes to Shanghai, it is before the General Assembly of Representatives of Chinese Catholics”.Facts: This time I was aware that such an Assembly might be soon convened. But I do not remember whether the last time I was aware of such situation. What I remember clearly is that in those days the Standing Committee of the People’s Congress made, for the second time, an interpretation of the Basic Law of Hong Kong and we had made a strong protest on our Catholic Weekly.

2. Yi Feng says: “Bishop Xing was adamant on not going to the 8th Assembly, but after Zen’s visit he says that he would go.”Facts: I did not know that Bishop Xing made any statement before my visit, even if I always believed that he would not go to that Assembly. I do not know if Bishop Xing has made any statement after my visit (Catholic Church on Line should have ascertained the facts, before allowing Yi Feng’s comments to appear on their website). In my meeting with Bishop Xing, we did not mention at all the 8th Assembly. The position of the Church regarding that Assembly is very clear from the Pope’s Letter to the Church in China and the communiqué of the Pontifical Commission for the Church in China (see., 25/03/2010 Holy See: Education, reconciliation, unity with the Pope, the Church's priorities in China). Any different voice supposedly coming from the Holy See would surely meet my strong disagreement. To insinuate that I have been the messenger of such a voice is an insult to me. Either Yi Feng does not know me at all, or he must have his hidden agenda in making this insinuation.

3. The malicious criticism of Yi Feng against Bishop Xing is not only an insult to the Bishop, but an offense to all the priests and faithful of Shanghai. Bishop Xing is highly respected for his strong faith, both by those above ground and those under ground.

4.Someone came out to join Yi Feng with the expression “Coadjutor Bishop Jin”, the obvious purpose being to displease Jin and embarrass me. The fact is that I never used such an expression. It was the constraint of Church Canon Law that forced the Holy See to qualify Bishop Jin as Coadjutor and Bishop Xing as Auxiliary. But everybody knows that the Pope has recognized the full jurisdiction of Bishop Jin for the open community of the Shanghai Diocese and that Bishop Xing was appointed as the successor of both Bishop Jin and Bishop Fan.

5. What I resent most is the lack of respect, on the part of that renegade Yi Feng, for the holy name of God. Several times he used the expression “the good old God” to make fun of Him. I think that should have erased those blasphemous expressions.