In response to Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to Chinese Catholics published last Saturday, the bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen Zi-kiun, expressed his hope that it would serve as point of departure for dialogue between Church and government officials. He said that Beijing should allow the Church in China to be truly Catholic and thereby be recognized and respected by the rest of the world.
The Chinese cardinal explained in a press release that the Pope wished to express his “special concern” for Catholics in China and to give them guidance “at this crucial time, so that they can be freed of this unfortunate situation.”
“My impression: I admire the precious balance achieved by the Holy Father between his passion for the truth and his love for his sons and daughters. Only an extraordinary theologian and tender father could satisfy at once the demands of the truth and the nobleness of the people. Praised be God for having given us such a leader!” he said.
Cardinal Zen noted that the teaching conveyed by Pope Benedict in his letter is nothing more than universally accepted Catholic principles that are not part of any political agenda nor do they constitute an attack on anyone. “My hope is that the leaders of our country will read the Pope’s letter from this perspective and understand the truth of the immutable nature of the Catholic Church.”
“My second hope: the voices of our bishops and priests in China have often been prevented from reaching our leaders. Now that this letter from the Pope is in the hands of our leaders, our bishops and priests can refer to it directly as a point of departure for dialogue,” the cardinal continued.
“The Pope insists that the bishops be leaders of the Church and that they not be separated from the Roman Pontiff. My hope is that our bishops and priests will remain united to the Holy Father. Let them allow our Church in China to truly be the Catholic Church recognized and respected by the rest of the world and let it give honor and glory to our country as part of the universal Church,” Cardinal Zen stated.