response to the illicit ordinations of two Chinese bishops last week
without the Holy See’s approval, Hong Kong’s Cardinal Joseph Zen has
said that Catholics in the country “want to be led by the Pope” rather
than the church imposed by the Chinese government.
In a statement released in response to the government’s defense of the ordinations, Cardinal Zen said that there is only one true Church in China and that the split truly tears at the conscience of members of the state-run church.
According to AsiaNews, he recalled that for more than 50 years, these “self-elected and self-consecrated” bishops “were aware of their situation and their hearts were not really at peace. At the end of the 70s and the beginning of the 80s, as contacts with abroad became easier, these bishops, through some people, entrusted their request for ‘pardon and recognition’ to the Holy See.”
He pointed out that “Whenever possible, the Pope accepted many of these requests, and he asked them to make this known to priests and lay believers, without pitting themselves in direct opposition to government institutions. This allowed bishops, priests and lay people to live their faith activities tranquilly, being still under government control.”
Cardinal Zen also noted that “Those who are forced to be ordained as bishops illicitly [without the permission of the Holy See], do not face an easy situation: priests generally refuse to concelebrate with them; the faithful do not want to participate in their masses.”
Because of this, as well as the genuine knowledge that they are not truly ordained without recognition from the Holy See, many, he said, go to their ordinations with their eyes “brimming with tears.”
“From this attitude of priests and believers, a very clear significance emerges. And I myself therefore say that ‘in China, there is only one Catholic Church and all want to be led by the pope’.”
In closing, the Cardinal said that while both China and the Vatican seem to sincerely want a harmonious relationship, that it is the state-run church that has “forced two priests to accept Episcopal ordination without the approval of the Holy See. We do not understand this fact and it leads us to lose hope. In conclusion: who is it who is pushing things backwards?”