Lunedì, 15 Ottobre 2018

China's troubled Catholic legacy


(By Giovanna Chirri)
Vatican City, March 6 - The arrival of the Chinese
cardinal, 74-year-old John Tong Hon of Hong Kong, is expected
shortly at the current pre-conclave congregations in the
Meanwhile, the Church's journal-of-record L'Osservatore
Romano published a headline low on its front page, ''The new
Chinese directors,'' an account of the 12th National People's
Congress (NPC) - the new Chinese parliament - which opened
Tuesday in Beijing to instate its new leadership, chosen last
The crusading missionary agency Asianews notes that the
last NPC - in addition to nominating leadership for high profile
political organs like the NPC itself, members of parliament, and
the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference -
appointed four illegitimate bishops without the consent of the
pope, a couple of whom are excommunicated.
However one reads it, the arrival of the Chinese cardinal
is hardly a favour to the Vatican and former pope.
The Chinese dossier will end up on the desk of Benedict
XVI's successor who, whoever he is - perhaps even an Asian, will
have an extremely prickly file to disentangle.
The Holy See has had no diplomatic relations with the great
Asian country since Mao Zedong forced the Beijing nuncio to flee
to Taipei.
Dialogue with the Chinese government is extremely
difficult; and it is difficult to make space for religious
freedom - not just for Catholics.
In particular, the bishops selected without the pope's
assent suffer hostility toward the Chinese Catholic Patriotic
Association, a failed attempt to build a national alternative
Roman Church that is entwined with politics, and exploits
privileges and controls religious politics.
''Underground'' Catholics - those faithful to Rome - do not
have an easy life. Priests and bishops get arrested. The Church
can not organize training or the ministry. Paradoxically,
conversions to Catholicism are increasing along with Chinese
interest in the Christian faith.
On the other hand, Benedict XVI has made important
gestures. In 2007, he took pen to paper and wrote a letter to
the entire Chinese people, while at his bidding, Vatican
diplomacy engaged China at a very high level.
Still there are those, like the elderly cardinal Joseph
Zen, who accused Benedict's aides of obstructing the pope's
''From the beginning, he followed a wrong strategy - one of
compromise with Beijing at all costs,'' said Zen. Zen added that
the strategy was also contrary to majority opinion in the
Vatican commission that deals with Chinese negotiations.
In the meantime, Chinese diplomacy continued repeating
itself like a broken record that the Holy See should abandon its
diplomatic seat in Taiwan and shouldn't interfere in China's
internal affairs.
At Christmas, Benedict directed an unprecedented message to
the new Chinese leadership, hoping they will valorize religions
for the ''construction of a society of solidarity'' for the
well-being of that ''noble people and the entire world''.
Upon hearing of his resignation, numerous Chinese wrote to
the pope thanking him for his affection and asking forgiveness
for the ''disappointment that we may have caused".

photo: Cardinal John Tong Hon

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