12/12/2018, 00.00
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Chinese priest from underground to official: 'The Pope and the Vatican told me to’

by Jiang Yan

Fr. Wang Zeyi, diocesan administrator of Wu Da (Ningxia), concelebrated with Msgr. Du Jiang, official bishop of Bameng (Inner Mongolia). Many faithful were scandalized and left the church. The problem of belonging to the Patriotic Association, whose principles are "irreconcilable" with Catholic doctrine. The Vatican must clarify this.

Rome (AsiaNews) - "The Pope told me to; the Vatican told me to": says Fr. Wang Zeyi, justifying his having passed from the underground Church of Wu Da (Ningxia, Inner Mongolia) to the one recognized by the government. His faithful, however, accuse him of being a "weak" and a "traitor". The report that we publish, written by a parishioner, tells of the clash between the two visions: that of the priest, who wants to collaborate with the government and join the Patriotic Association (PA); that of the faithful or part of them, who instead prefer to keep at a safe distance from the so-called "independent Church" that the PA wants to build under the domination of the Chinese Communist Party.

The confrontation was sparked by a concelebration between Fr. Wang and Msgr. Matthias Du Jiang, official bishop of Bameng (Inner Mongolia), who also passed from the underground to the official Church in 2010, after spending six years as an underground bishop among many difficulties.

This concelebration in itself does not constitute a dogmatic, or theological, or disciplinary obstacle, given that Msgr. Du Jiang is recognized by the Holy See. But the faithful see some ambiguity in Fr. Wang. First of all, the priest wanted to pass into official status several years earlier, alleging that some underground bishops pushed him to this. But the faithful verified that this was not true. So, even this time, when he claims he received instructions from Pope Francis and the Vatican, the faithful do not believe him.

It is also true that the Sino-Vatican agreement signed last September does not address the issue of belonging to the Patriotic Association, at the moment a necessary condition for becoming official. The Letter of Benedict XVI to Chinese Catholics stated that the principles on which the PA is based are "irreconcilable" with Catholic doctrine. But the lifting of excommunication from seven official bishops (and one post-mortem), at the behest of Pope Francis, gives the Chinese faithful the impression that belonging to the PA is a good thing or of little importance. On the other hand, according to testimonies that come to us from China, the seven reconciled bishops have not changed their way of seeing and acting and continue to exalt the idea of ​​an "independent" Church. Many underground bishops ask the Vatican to clarify this point. In any case, the move from underground to official should take place in a close dialogue between priests and faithful, to "not give rise to situations of scandal", as the Letter of Benedict XVI recommends (No. 7): something that Fr. Wang failed to do. On the other hand, as expressed by Fr. Wang, he - and many other bishops and faithful of the underground Church - are subjected to pressure and controls as subject to "special surveillance" to force them to join the PA. And often government officials say that "the Pope agrees with us". (BC)

Wang Zeyi, diocesan administrator of the underground Church of Wu Da (Ba Meng, Inner Mongolia) within the Diocese of Ning Xia, on Sunday, December 2, concelebrated with the official bishop Matthias Du Jiang. For the faithful of the unofficial Church this act is unacceptable. Many people left because of the celebration. The next day, government authorities raised the Chinese flag in front of the church. The possible and serious consequence will be the division within the underground Church.

For years, underground members of the Church have accused Fr. Wang Zeyi of secretly planning his opening to the government. He defends himself, saying that he had clear instructions from the Pope. If it were really so, would it not be more convincing to show the documents authorizing his concelebrating with the official Church?

Since 2012, Fr. Wang has always refused to comply with government authorities' requests, accepting them only now. In the last six years he has therefore faced many difficulties and sufferings. Today, six years later, a few days before the concelebration, the anger made the faithful cry out in protest at his being a weak and a traitorous coward.

Here are events according to Fr. Wang Zeyi:

"I would like to say something about this delay of 6 years in meeting the demands of the government. First, in the respectable letter of Pope Benedict XVI to the Chinese Church in 2007, it is clearly stated:"In not a few situations, then, you have faced the problem of concelebration of the Eucharist. In this regard, I remind you that this presupposes, as conditions, profession of the same faith and hierarchical communion with the Pope and with the universal Church". Therefore concelebrating with bishops in communion with the Pope is legitimate.

Even if these celebrations are organized by the government, or by people who have no relationship with the institutional Church, as already mentioned (see point 7, paragraph 8), "the principle is that this recognition and these relationships do not violate the faith and ecclesial communion. To this end, the faithful who sincerely love Christ and the Church should not hesitate to participate in Eucharistic concelebrations or other sacraments by priests and bishops in full communion with the Successor of Peter ".

Bishop Du Jiang of the diocese of Bameng was personally nominated by Pope Benedict XVI, legitimately and validly, so he has all the rights of the bishops in full communion with the Pope. My concelebration with Bishop Du Jiang does not violate the Code of Canon Law or Catholic doctrine. It is therefore legitimate.

Secondly, the Holy See has explicitly clarified that the concelebration with Bishop Du Jiang is possible without any problem. Third, on September 22, the Vatican signed a provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops. The long-term goal that is at the heart of the current Pope, Francis, is the unity and growth of the Church in China. This is why the Pope has forgiven eight Chinese bishops who have suffered the penalty of excommunication, welcoming them back into the arms of the Church. Like the prodigal son in the parable of his merciful father, he accepted the return of his younger son at home, despite the complaints of his eldest son against his old father.

As the highest pastor of the Church, the Pope has the power to enact church laws, but he also has the power to exempt from the legal restrictions of the Church. This power was conferred by Jesus Christ himself. My concelebration with Bishop Du Jiang was, in reality, possible and lawful from the beginning. However, because of historical reasons or even more because of the beliefs and feelings of the faithful, after the many personal sufferings of these last years and after having obtained yet another approval of the Holy See, for the sake of your faith and my faith , two months after the interim agreement between the Holy See and the government, I decided to concelebrate, legitimately and with the permission of the Vatican. Excuse the question, dear brothers and sisters who accuse me: should I or should I not obey the Pope who asks me to concelebrate with a legitimate bishop? Or should I listen to you, satisfying your feelings against this concelebration and dividing the Church even more?

On concelebrating with bishops in full communion with the Pope, my conscience is at peace. It may be that you are not aware of the difficulty and pressure I have to face right now. Last month, the Central Committee for Religions came here to Inner Mongolia, reiterating the fact that I am the key objective of the Catholic Church in the northwest. There is great pressure on the city of Wu Hai and on the district departments. From December 3 to 5, representatives of the Committee of Religions of the Autonomous Region have come to Wuhai City: I and the Catholic Church of Wu Da are truly at the center of government attention. For this reason, you just do not remotely imagine the difficulties and stress we are subjected to. I tried to do my best !!! Because all this is nationwide! Moreover, I am subject to "special surveillance". I think therefore that all these things are normal".

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