03/14/2018, 12.20
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Who is against a just, correct and peaceful agreement?

by Shanren*

Criticism of those articles that hurl arguments against Card. Zen without considering the reasons for his position. He loves the Church and the homeland. Instead many journalists remain silent on more "sensitive" topics. Everyone wants a good "agreement", but China does not respect the Cross and continues in its campaign of "sinicization" of the Church.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - I recently read the article by Mr. Lei Dingming [also known as Francis T. Lui (雷鼎鳴), a pro-China professor and author of a recent article in which he criticizes Cardinal Zen, ed], whose topic is "The behind-the-scenes debate on diplomatic recognition between China and the Vatican". Without a doubt, Mr. Lei Dingming is a professor, a scholar, this is clear from the way the piece has been written, since it is very well structured, logical and stylistically very good. But, after reading it, I could not help feeling disappointed. This is the same way I felt after reading the articles by Valente, Sisci, Paolo Gan, the World Times editorial, because the specific style of this type of writing is primarily to simplify and draw battle lines with Cardinal Zen firmly on the opposition to any agreement and diplomatic recognition. None of these authors have ever attempted to really understand why Card. Zen holds the position that he has.

A direct result of this is their exaggeration of the positivity and goodness of the negotiations, the agreement and the diplomatic relations between China and the Vatican, painting Card. Zen as a public target of criticism. Even some "underground bishops" in Valente's interviews go no further than positive statements: these "underground bishops" claim they do not want to be represented by others (the same applies to those who only represent themselves). Since the "underground bishops" have expressed their wish to follow the Holy Father, underlining that it is a good thing that China and the Vatican come to an agreement and diplomatic recognition, if China and the Vatican should agree, the Vatican must do so in hurry: who can possibly still oppose this?

Moreover, in the heated online debates, if you do not lift both hands to strongly endorse the agreement that China and the Vatican will make, it is made to appear that you do not want to obey the supreme Church authorities. For the ecclesiastical Hierarchy of the Catholic Church much weight is given to obedience and to adherence to commands. Since it is so, we must ask ourselves again: Does Card. Does Zen really oppose the agreement between China and the Vatican, and seek to hinder their diplomatic recognition? As the most senior Chinese Cardinal in the Church he has sacrificed his whole life for the Church in China (not just the underground Church): is he really against China and the Vatican reconciling and exchanging honors?

If even simple people like me can understand that Card. Zen loves the Church and loves the country, what can the above mentioned people, who insist on making him the spokesperson of the underground Church and the opponent of the agreement between China and the Vatican, mean? Do they mean that the "underground Church" does not want to sacrifice itself for the general situation between China and the Vatican? Or do they mean that the "official Church" is in fact already accustomed to managing the general situation?

Among the "two associations", a certain "bishop" in an interview with journalists honestly said: "One must not talk about sensitive subjects; instead let us talk about the right things, it is good to listen! ". Having read the report, I asked myself: what are those sensitive subjects in the bishop's eyes? Moreover, why should the bad points be avoided? These "sensitive and not good" subjects are the very ones that Valente, Sisci, Paolo Gan and Lei Dingming overlook and do not consider. You are taken into consideration only if you say the right thing : that's why they are focused on attacking Card. Zen.

In truth, beyond Card. Zen and the whole Church in China, who does not hope that relations between China and the Vatican normalize? Who does not hope that the Gospel of Christ can spread freely on the Chinese continent? Who wants to see the pastors of the Church in China unable to exercise their ministry in peace? When some Catholics directly affirm that the Church must understand and adapt to Chinese society, adapt to the conditions of the country, will it not be that they have to go to state officials to exhort them to better understand and respect religious faith and Crosses more?

"The Way of Matteo Ricci" and the "Rule of Matteo Ricci" cannot immediately become a practical movement of the Church in Chinese society! Moreover, they do not say that Matteo Ricci's aim was "to complete and transcend" (Fr. Ricci proposed to study Confucianism, to complete it, but once completed, to transcend it) and as a device (Joseph Xiao in his book indicated clearly that was his strategic plan). Are there those who possess the courageous attitude and ecclesial convictions of Fr. Ricci to consider the concrete situation of the Church in Chinese society? Today, in general, there is no one who is able to speak and who already speaks capable of this.

According to religious officials, the channel for negotiations between China and the Vatican continue to progress smoothly and are effective; in appearance, the Chinese side is fully satisfied. As Catholic communities and Chinese clergy, do we not hope to see the situation of faith improve day by day? Today everyone can see on the internet the news and the video that at Shangqiu, in Henan, yesterday the Cross of a church was forcibly demolished by the local authorities; moreover, a few days ago, in Yili in Xinjiang, the Cross and the bell tower of a church were demolished. The reason given by the government is obviously that they are not conform to their campaign of "syncisation".

 I have asked several people to explain meaning of the in vogue term "the Synicization of Religion". No one understands it. If the concept of "sinicization" is unclear to many educated people and professors, how can those government officials who demolish the Crosses of the churches understand what it means? May it perhaps be that by default its generic meaning indicates that churches in China cannot bear the Cross?


 At the end of last year, a church in the Diocese of Zhouzhi was destroyed; earlier this year a new church in Hongdong, Shanxi, was forcibly burned. Now in one after another the crosses of two churches are demolished, what lies ahead in the future? Who knows! All these incidents took place today when the agreement between China and the Vatican has already been reached and is about to be signed. These "religious tragedies" are the sensitive points that Valente, Sisci, Paolo Gan and others always avoid and do not mention at all.

Negotiations between two States are a game of political power: one step forward, on step back, it is not a strange thing. What is strange is that religious freedom in China is generally interfered with and violated. Card. Zen hopes that in the process of negotiations, agreement and diplomatic recognition between China and the Vatican, priority be given to seeking the Government’s word that it will not interfere with or violate its citizens' freedom of faith and promise to sincerely respect the religious sites in the various places: how can Cardinal Zen be considered an old man who opposes the agreement and hinders diplomatic recognition?

The agreement may be signed tomorrow, but what will happen after the signature? The government maintains the effective authority to appoint bishops. Can the bishops really request the government to receive due respect and freedom? So Lei Dingming's article is not based on a correct and objective basis. Its purpose remains that for which the Church must first accept a compromise with the government and, once compromised, the government promises to toss it two sweets.

Furthermore, can we compromise and still be true to the Catholic faith? For this reason, I believe that Card. Zen does not oppose negotiations, the agreement and the normalization of relations between China and the Vatican, he is someone who out of a great and true great love for the Church and for the homeland is glad that they take place. I think the reason why Card Zen in taking the initiative to express his opinions is not only to ensure that the Church in China can preserve its nature, but also because unlike its opponents, he does not want to go down in history as having posed an end to the Christian faith.

* Chinese priest

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