.- Catholics in China, whether they are members of the underground Church, affiliated with the Vatican, or of the official government-sanctioned China Catholic Patriotic Association, still face daily persecution, said Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong.
Cardinal Zen told a packed Westminster Cathedral Hall on Saturday how the churches are constantly supervised by the government, reported Christian Today. The conference was organized by Aid to the Church in Need.
Government intervention in church affairs also means that churches are not necessarily controlled by bishops but rather by select lay people who are used as “instruments of the government” within the congregations, he said.
“The Communist Regime is afraid of any contact that is not under their control,” he was quoted as saying.
“If they really understood how the Catholic Church is in the world, they would have no fear of the Catholic Church. The Church in China is such a small minority so why should they be afraid?” he said.
He said the relationship between the Catholic Church in Hong Kong and the Chinese government was “a very difficult one … But compared with mainland China, we are really lucky.”
The cardinal spoke of the two episcopal ordinations that took place earlier this year without Vatican approval. He described them as an attempt by the Chinese government to ensure the loyalty of the bishops only to itself, but this attempt failed, he reportedly said.
The bishops involved, “in their heart don’t feel assured as they know it is wrong” and are now seeking forgiveness from the Vatican, he stated.
Cardinal Zen expressed hope, however, in the Chinese government’s interest in relations with the Vatican since the election of Pope Benedict. He spoke positively of the recent invitation from the Chinese Church for a delegation to come from the Holy See – the first such invitation in years.
“We have to trust the Divine Providence,” he was quoted as saying. “So even after half a century we accept whatever happens because surely it is by Divine Providence.”