Hong Kong, China, Mar 8, 2018 / 20:54 pm
Vatican diplomats’ efforts to reach an agreement with the Chinese government would turn bishops into government officials who cannot adequately shepherd their flock, Cardinal Joseph Zen has said.
“Better no deal than a bad deal,” the cardinal told Raymond Arroyo, host of the EWTN news show The World Over.
The outspoken cardinal charged that in recent years the Vatican policy has left the Church in China “much weakened than before.” This harms negotiating power, since “from a weak position you cannot get anything in a negotiation,” he said March 8.
The Catholic Church in China is divided into the illegal “underground” Church, which remains faithful and in communion with Rome, and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, whose bishops are appointed by the government. Members of the underground Church are often persecuted by the Chinese government.
In Cardinal Zen’s view, the Holy See is tolerating bad behavior from the official church and the illicitly ordained bishops.
“They are arrogant, they defy the Holy See. And the Holy See keeps quiet,” he said. “And then the Holy See is always encouraging the people underground and also the good people above ground to surrender, to compromise. They are weakening our Church. It is a kind of suicide.”
Cardinal Zen is one of two Bishops emeriti of Hong Kong. Cardinal John Tong Hon, another retired bishop, has been somewhat more favorable towards proposed changes in Vatican-China relations.
An agreement under discussion would reportedly legitimize the bishops of the Catholic Patriotic Association, requiring two of the underground Church’s bishops either to retire or to step into a lower role as coadjutor archbishop of his diocese.