In an interview with the Italian daily La Stampa, Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong warned that “nationalism is a real danger” in China and could lead to fascism or dictatorship.
Cardinal Zen referred to analysts who “see in recent events in China the danger that the country is on the road to fascism, or maybe is heading towards a dictatorial regime with strong nationalist tendencies.”
“The government has insisted greatly on Chinese pride for the upcoming Olympic games, saying it is only a healthy national sentiment and not ideological nationalism,” the cardinal said.
Asked about the obstacles that prevent the re-establishing of diplomatic relationships between Beijing and the Vatican, Cardinal Zen said, “The main difficulty is the absence of true religious freedom in China.”
“For the Church it is essential that the Pope can freely choose bishops,” he went on, noting the “the (Chinese) government is still intervening” in this matter.
“Establishing diplomatic relations right now would mean legitimizing a religious policy that does not respect real freedom for believers,” the cardinal said.
Cardinal Zen further explained his thoughts on Vatican Radio, underscoring that the Holy Father “with much sincerity, has reminded us of the nature of the Church, as the Lord has made her. The Church is apostolic. And today it must be guided by the bishops led by the successor of St. Peter. Unfortunately, it is still not possible to realize this ideal of the Church in China, but there are signs of closeness with the recent music concert at the Vatican with the Holy Father in attendance.”