Zen said Casaroli was “obsessed with Ostpolitik,” and called it “a sort of political compromise.”
He also said the late Cardinal Ivan Dias, formerly Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, had also been influenced by Casaroli. The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples oversees the administration of the Church in areas designated ‘mission territories’ around the world.
Dias, who died last summer, had a “marvelous curriculum,” having been Archbishop of Bombay for nearly a decade and was familiar with the situation in Asia as a whole, Zen said.
However, the problem is that both Dias and Parolin “were perfectly in tune with the application of Ostpolitik in China, and [played] a double game against the instructions of Benedict XVI.”
Ostpolitik was the name given to the political process of pursuing the normalization of relations between the fractured German government in the late 1960s. Specifically, it aimed to patch the division between the Federal Republic of Germany of West Germany, and the German Democratic Republic of East Germany, which were split after the end of World War II in 1945.
Since then, the term Ostpolitik has also been used to describe the efforts made by Pope Paul VI to engage, through dialogue, compromise, or agreements, with Eastern European countries run by communist regimes.
Although Dias retired at the age of 75 and Parolin was named as nuncio to Venezuela in 2009, Cardinal Zen said that ever since Parolin's re-entry into the Vatican scene as Pope Francis' Secretary of State in 2013, he has continued to promote Casaroli's political approach to China.
Parolin, he said, is kind and is “gifted with an extraordinary diplomatic art,” but nonetheless continues “to be obsessed with Ostpolitik...[he] willingly offers his collaboration, giving the desired information and sparing the worrying parts.”
In his view, Zen said those who back the deal want “compromise without limits, they are already willing to completely surrender.”
Based on what Pope Francis has told him and Archbishop Savio Hon, who was born in British Hong Kong and is currently apostolic nuncio to Greece, Zen said it's clear that the Pope “didn't know the details” of the planned deal.
“We all know that the indications of the Roman Curia are necessarily approved by the Pope,” he said, adding that faithful from the Chinese continent “do not complain about the Pope due to certain misunderstandings.”
“If he signs any deal they want, we can only accept it, without protest,” he said. “But before the eventual signing, it is our right to make the truth about things known, because this can change the direction and avoid serious dangers for the Church.”
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Cardinal Zen's latest critique was published in Chinese on his blog Feb. 24, and was translated and published in Italian on the blog of veteran Vatican analyst Sandro Magister.
The post centers on a conversation Zen had with a priest from continental China, Fr. Geng Zhanhe, responding to different points Geng apparently made in support of the deal.
Rumors of the proposed agreement have been gaining steam in recent weeks, with sources close the situation saying the accord is “imminent” and could come as early as this spring. If the deal is reached, the Vatican is expected to officially recognize seven bishops who are out of communion with Rome, including 2-3 whose excommunications have been explicitly declared by the Vatican.
Most notably, the new deal would also apparently outline government and Vatican roles in future episcopal selection. The details of the deal would reportedly be similar to the Vatican's agreement with Vietnam, in which the Holy See would propose three names, and the Chinese government would choose the one to be appointed bishop.
Currently every bishop recognized by Beijing must be a member of the patriotic association, and many bishops appointed by the Vatican who are not recognized or approved by the Chinese government have faced government persecution.
In his blog post, Cardinal Zen criticized the fact that as one of two Chinese cardinals, he has not been made aware of the contents of the agreement. “Certainly they can't make public all the contents of the negotiation,” he said, but as one of the two cardinals for China, “would I not have the right to know the contents?”