Church in China

Cardinal Zen calls for China-Vatican negotiations, denies obstructing communications

.- In response to recent media reports, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong has reemphasized his desire to see negotiations and dialogue between China and the Vatican in order to move toward the normalization of diplomatic relations.

The Cardinal once again noted that episcopal ordinations for Chinese dioceses, unapproved by the Vatican, have created obstacles in China-Vatican relations, and denied insinuations that the Cardinal himself had obstructed communications between China’s Communist government and the Holy See.

Cardinal Zen made his remarks in response to comments made by Anthony Liu Bainian, Vice President of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA), in a Feb. 11 Hong Kong news report.

Liu claimed that in 2006 China tried "four channels" to inform Rome about then-Fr. Joseph Ma Yinglin's upcoming episcopal ordination but "somebody obstructed" the process, causing the Holy See to ignore the matter. Liu did not name the person.

In a statement on Feb. 13th, Cardinal Zen said it was obvious that Liu was referring to him and it was necessary to clarify the matter. The cardinal refuted the charge that he "obstructed" the process of obtaining papal approval for Bishop Ma’s ordination as the bishop of Kunming, reported UCA News.

Cardinal Zen said he only found out about the April 30 ordination a few days before it took place, when a mainland bishop asked the cardinal to request Vatican permission to take part in the ordination. The Vatican subsequently replied that the candidate was not approved, Cardinal Zen reported, and the CCPA, along with Fr. Ma, were told to postpone the ordination.

For the three episcopal ordinations in Shanghai, Xi'an, and Wanzhou dioceses in 2005, the CCPA Vice President said, China elected the candidates and the Vatican approved them, showing the Pope's goodwill to further improve China-Vatican relations.

Liu admitted that the Ma ordination was not similarly approved but said that in his mind, Ma's ordination was not to be taken as “a challenge to the Vatican."

Currently, the Chinese church is considering episcopal appointments for Guangzhou, Guizhou and Yichang dioceses, UCA News also reported.

Liu told UCA News on Feb. 14 that the government-controlled China church intends to continue the election and ordination of its own bishops.

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