Zen responded, “The incredible thing is the invitation to trust the government! Is information on recent oppression measures missing from our superiors in the Vatican?”
Filoni said that he realized that it may appear that the Holy See is asking for “a unilateral sacrifice” from members underground Chinese Catholic community, “while nothing is requested of the ‘official’ members.”
“The issue should not be put in these terms; in fact, it is not about the ‘underground’ surrendering to the ‘official’ or to the civil authorities, regardless of the appearance, nor of a victory over the non-official community,” he continued.
“The underground status will fade away, but not the people involved. Their faith, their traditions, and their spirituality remain, which are enjoyed by the entire diocesan community,” Filoni said.
He pointed to September’s provisional agreement as a continuation of the dialogue between the Holy See and China under St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
Zen objected to this claim, writing, “The Holy See intends to present the dialogue with China as a homogeneous process from John Paul II through Benedict until Pope Francis. Not so, John Paul II and Benedict, having lived under totalitarian regimes, never believed the Ostpolitik theory.”
“With the choice of Parolin as his Secretary of State, Pope Francis gave the curia’s group of powerful men the opportunity to resume their project of Ostpolitik,” Zen said.
“Now following Pope Francis in his optimism, they dangerously push him towards an easy surrender, hiding the horrible face of Chinese communism of which they are well aware,” Zen continued.
Filoni criticized those who “run the risk of rowing out of sync within the ship of Peter” and of leading the Chinese faithful into misunderstanding the agreement.
“Only with a superficial spirit or in bad faith could one imagine that Pope Francis and the Holy See would abandon the flock of Christ, wherever or in whatever condition it finds itself in the world,” Filoni said.
“Therefore, we must continue to work to improve the perception of the faithful, who are often influenced by media messages that are not altogether correct or balanced and find it difficult to understand the due discretion that surrounded the dialogue between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China,” he continued.
“The Pope, together with his coworkers, has done, is doing, and will do all that is possible to be close to the Church in China. Our methods are not infallible, but we truly love the Church and the Chinese people,” Filoni said.
(Story cotinues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Filoni said that he hopes “not to hear or read about local situations in which the Agreement is exploited to compel people to do what is not even required by Chinese law, such as joining the Patriotic Association.”
“In the sixty years since the creation of the Patriotic Association, everyone, in perhaps an unequal and dramatic way, has suffered, both in a physical and moral sense,” he said.
“It is the Lord who guides history. Therefore, I would hope that, first of all, in dealing with any possible dilemmas, they would know always how to see the other with trust, even if some aspects of the current situation are perceived as injustices and with difficulty,” Filoni said.
Zen responded, “His Eminence loves to have legitimate reservations about what the Holy See does, but in the meantime he accuses me of not rowing in harmony with the barque of Peter.”
Several Chinese bishops participating in the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) also spoke out about the Vatican-China agreement this month.
The theme of this year’s CPPCC assembly meeting is “the study and application of Xi Jinping's thinking on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era.”