02/22/2006, 00.00
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Card. Zen a great help for unity, development of Chinese Church, says underground bishop

Catholics were glued to their TV or internet to wait for the news. Mgr Wei: The Church in Hong Kong will help the unity and development of the Church in China.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – Mgr Zen's appointment as cardinal, the only one in the Chinese world aged less than 80 years, was welcomed by Chinese Catholics as a great sign of hope. News of his possible appointment had been circulating for some time.  Today, many Chinese Catholics spent the day glued to their satellite televisions or to the internet, to await confirmation of the appointment of the bishop of Hong Kong.

Mgr Wei Jingyi, unofficial bishop of Qiqihar, contacted by AsiaNews by phone, immediately exclaimed: "It's a great joy! As soon as I heard the news, I quickly called Hong Kong to congratulate him in person."

Mgr Giuseppe Wei Jingyi was among the four bishops of the People's Republic of China invited to the Synod on the Eucharist last October. The Chinese government did not allow them to leave China to go to Rome.

"I think the pope appointed Bishop Zen precisely because he is Chinese," continued Mgr Wei. "It is a perfect decision, just and intelligent. Cardinal Zen is a magnificent person. This appointment expresses the fact that for the pope, the Chinese nation and the Chinese church have an important place in his heart."

He added: "Cardinal Zen is a person of deep and passionate faith; he is very trustworthy and intransigent as regards values and principles of the Church. This character of his is well known in China too. For this reason, I am very happy. Hong Kong and its church already held a special place for the Church of China. Now, it will have an even greater influence for the unity and development of the Church in China.

Fr Peter Barry is researcher at the Holy Spirit Study Centre of Hong Kong, a centre of theological studies about the Church in China, and one of the closest collaborators of the new cardinal. He said: "It is a great piece of news. Another Chinese cardinal was needed. Zen is the best candidate because he knows China, he is known among Chinese Catholics. He knows the Chinese Catholic community better than any other; many of his students are now priests and bishops across China. Zen can represent the voice of the Chinese Church in the universal Church and with the Holy Father. He upholds the social teaching of the Church. He has many copies of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the church, which he distributes with enthusiasm. He has often spoken out clearly on social justice and freedom of worship. He also knows the Holy See, the universal Church; he has participated in various synods. He is a worthy theologian. So he will bring benefits for the Chinese Church. He will be able to further the process of evangelisation, of dialogue with Chinese culture and of inculturation."

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