Mindong Priest: The 'faithful' Church subject to the Pope yesterday and today
Luo Wen explains why Msgr. Guo Xijin accepted Pope Francis's request, resigning as ordinary bishop to give way to formerly excommunicated Msgr. Zha Silu. The underground Church of Mindong was "faithful" to the Pope when they were asked not to celebrate with illegitimate bishops; today they obey the Pope for the good of Church unity. Underground priests are meditating abandoning the priesthood. The problems of relations with the government, in order not to make the Church (official) a "State" Church, composed of "officials".
Mindong (AsiaNews) - "At the beginning we chose to go the 'underground' route because the Holy See did not recognize the official bishops, so we too rejected sacramental communion with them. But today we also recognize the official bishops as our bishops, because it is an order from the Pontiff ". This is how Fr. Luo Wen, a priest of the diocese of Mindong, explains why his bishop, Msgr. Vincenzo Guo Xijin agreed to step down from his position as ordinary bishop accept becoming an auxiliary (not yet recognized by the government), submitting to a request made by Pope Francis to give way to formerly excommunicated Msgr. Vincenzo Zhan Silu. Silu was recently welcomed back into ecclesial communion. In an article which we publish below, Fr. Luo states that the decision of Msgr. Guo and his priests is motivated by their being the "faithful" Church, as is often indicated by the underground Church, not recognized by government and considered illegal. "Their loyalty", the priest explains, is "to the pope" and "to the Church of Jesus Christ", not to "opinions" or principles. The clarity of this position, is arousing various criticisms within the underground communities that see the decision of Msgr. Guo and his Church as "traitors" and of "selling out of Chinese Church to the government", the charge that is being laid at the Vatican’s door.
In various underground communities the China-Vatican agreement, the lifting of the excommunications from seven official bishops, the silence on the activities of the Patriotic Association (whose principles are "incompatible" with Catholic doctrine) is urging many priests to consider the possibility of abandoning the priesthood. The explanations put forward by Fr. Luo are a decisive contribution to the debate on what the underground community must do in the present situation and show the luminous testimony of Msgr. Guo and his priests.
Articles have also appeared on social media written by priests from the official community in appreciation of what Fr. Luo says and the "loyalty" of Fr. Luo and the Church of Mindong to the Pope, who is "finally" working for the unity of the Church in China. No word, however, on their "infidelity", when the Vatican asked them not to collaborate with official bishops not recognized by the Holy See. The problem of how to live the Catholic faith in Chinese society without becoming government officials remains the burning issue for all. Also for the Vatican. (Translated by AsiaNews).
On the evening of last Thursday [December 13], after the celebration of Mass, I returned to the diocese for a meeting. When I returned to the parish it was already past midnight. After reading the title of a personal blog, I immediately shared an article that I now recognize is not completely true, with some incorrect data. I do not want the errors contained in that article to aggravate the speculations about the events of our bishop of Mindong, so despite the tiredness and the late hour, I will try to write another article in an attempt to report on this news as objectively as possible.
Yesterday morning, a friend sent me some articles, one of which was a comment to my article: "Father Luo Wen, who has been faithful for half his life, was forced to write a news last night to announce the results achieved ". And again: "Of course everyone is happy when it comes to Church unity, Father Luo praised the sacrifice and obedience of Bishop Guo, natural virtues for a priest".
The fact that decades perseverance suddenly no longer seem important today, certainly makes us think. "I cannot help but laugh, the little doll is so frightened it has forgotten the pain of the past and suddenly the old illness of not knowing when to keep her mouth shut resurfaces, her mental age is not the same as her physical one!”.
In the Holy See yearbook our diocese of Mindong is referred to as the "Diocese of Funing", because at that time it was under the jurisdiction of the government of Fu Ning. The diocese of Funing was established on December 27, 1923, by the apostolic prefecture of the northern border of Fujian. On April 11, 1946, the Holy See established its jurisdiction in China: the Apostolic Prefecture of Funing was transformed into the diocese of Funing, appointing the Spanish Dominican Zhao Bing Wen as bishop.
The bishops appointed by the Pontiff include:
- Diocesan administrator Niu Hui Qing: born on 18 September 1895 in Yajiazhai, in the Xinhe region (Hebei). Ordained on 30 September 1923, on 4 April 1943 he was appointed by the Holy See as apostolic administrator of the prefecture of Yanggu. In the same year he was appointed bishop. On 11 April 1946 he was appointed bishop of the diocese of Yanggu and in 1948 as bishop of the diocese of Fu Ning (Fujian). On 7 August 1952 he was appointed apostolic administrator of the prefecture of Jia Yi (1952-1969). He died on 28 February 1973, at the age of 77.
- Bishop Xie Shi Guang, from the village of Jiangzhuang, Qingyuan County, in the city of Baoding (Hebei)
- Bishop Huang Shou Cheng of Kang Xi, Fu'an City (Fujian),
- Bishop Guo Xijin of Xi Yin of Fu'an (Fujian)
- Bishop Zhan Silu of Ning De of Ling Hou (Fujian)
The diocese of Mindong belongs to the city of Ning De which is located in the northeastern part of the province of Fu Jian. It is connected to the north by the city of Wenzhou, to the south by Fuzhou, to the east by the East China Sea and to the west by Nan Ping. Before the recent interim agreement between China and the Vatican, the diocese of Mindong was not known to many people, but in the history of the Chinese Church it has several important primates: the first priest of Chinese nationality is of Mindong; it is also the birthplace of the first bishop of Chinese nationality, Luo Wen Zao (Luo Jiang village, Fu'an city in Fujian, which is also my own village); also the first saint and virgin of the Chinese Church, Chen Zidong, was born here in Mindong (in the village Xia Pi Ren, of the city of Fu'an, Fujian); it is also the place of the sacrifice of the Chinese protomartyr (Saint Francisco Fernández de Capillas, Spanish Dominican missionary, commemorated on January 15)
The early years of the Church's rebirth in the 1980s represent the period of maximum splendor, with an abundance of vocations: there were more than 600 consecrated women (300 remained from before liberation and more than 300 new vocations). For example, the Sisters of Charity of the Sacred Heart and the Congregation of the Chinese Dominicans have their roots in this fertile land.
At the end of the last century, for reasons well-known, two groups coexisted, the official Church and the underground one. Recently, following a note from the Holy See, these two groups have achieved full unity. Adding up the members of the official Church (one bishop and seven priests) and those of the underground Church (one bishop and 54 priests), now our diocese has more than 60 priests and more than 80,000 faithful.
In all these years we have persevered as an "underground" community. Therefore, the acceptance of Bishop Zhan Si Lu as our bishop today seems contradictory, but it is not. Not if you consider that everyone refers to the underground Church as "The Faithful Church". What does this being "faithful" mean? Being faithful means fidelity to a superior authority, to the ecclesiastical tradition and to the representative of Christ. At the beginning we chose to follow the "underground" route because the Holy See did not recognize the official bishops, so we too refused sacramental communion with them. But today we also recognize the official bishops as our bishops, because it is an order of the Pontiff: the reason for the original refusal is exactly the same as the reason for today's recognition.
Of course, everyone has their own ideas, but an idea always remains just that: an idea. An opinion is always an opinion, but it cannot be the reason for disobedience. When the little doll tells me that "after having resisted for so many years, I change so easily" what does she mean? Do I have to express my protest on the Internet and remain faithful? If so, the fidelity of our diocese in these 40 years was to whom or what exactly? “Fidelity to one's own tastes and decisions" continually committed to working and doing God's works, we have forgotten God. Because we are only workers in the vineyard of the Lord Jesus, we can certainly make suggestions to the master. Even the right to resign, but we cannot replace the owner of the vineyard, faith is yours, but the Church belongs to Jesus, reject this Pope and complain on the Internet, but in the end who are you faithful to? The devil?
Obeying and admiring are two different concepts: the first is on a legal level, while the second is on a spiritual level. Everyone can have their own ideas and values, but these cannot become the reason for refusing to obey. For a priest, more than his own preferences, what counts is his responsibility towards the faithful. We may shed tears or swallow bitter pills for many reasons, but after that we must still teach with great moderation.
If you always say only what you want, if you only say what you think, then does your mouth not become like a toilet, where you simply press a button and flush everything out? In the history of art there is a saying that goes: catharsis is not art, art is moderation. As for art, this also applies to people! If you do not understand this point, you should refrain from making further comment, you could wreck your brain without really without understanding anything.
Bishop Guo Xijin is a teacher of mine, everything that I and the other nine students in my class have learned about spiritual life comes directly from him: I can say I know him very well!
During our formation, Bishop Guo has often told us: to choose this path we need to know what we are going to meet; the main purpose of our work is to try to preserve the integrity of our faith, not for the pursuit of our rights or our personal honor. When one day relations between China and the Vatican will be normal, we should step aside. Besides the political factors, it must be said that the formation we receive is not as structured as that of the official Church, our intellectual preparation is certainly less, but this does not give us the right to become "underground" when obedience and humility is at stake.
Our entire diocese has persevered in faith since the late 1980s until today, trying to maintain a positive dialogue with the government, to make them understand that our resistance is only for the faith, not for the sake of conflict. In this way, in these 30 years we have tried to maintain a good balance between being good citizens and good believers, in the diocese there have never been any points of view or extreme events, our brother priests are extremely united. The day before yesterday afternoon [last December 13] Bishop Guo, during the meeting with all the priests of the diocese, announced that from now on he will no longer serve the diocese of Mindong as a bishop, asking everyone to accept in faith and obey Bishop Zhan Silu. None of the priests present stood up and rebelled. Are not a diocese like this, a community like this, proof of God's constant presence?
As Bishop Guo Xijin taught us at that time, we will continue to do today, and all our priests have done as he taught us: Do we really want to still doubt this faithfulness? This is the greatness of Bishop Guo Xijin, the greatness of all the priests of Min Dong!
Men can not consider themselves more intelligent than God and interfere with His plan of salvation. At the beginning of creation Eve, to make human beings smarter, ate the fruit of the tree of wisdom, losing her original virtue and leaving us in original sin for thousands of years; In order to help Abraham to realize God's plan as soon as possible, Sara gave her husband the servant Hagar, or as the donkey of Ishmael for the people, God's blessing for Abraham did not come directly from him. This is what the Bible teaches us and shame on those who do not accept this!