Vatican City, Feb 29, 2020 / 15:09 pm
The newly-appointed Dean of the College of Cardinals purportedly sent a letter to cardinals Wednesday claiming that the China-Vatican deal represents the minds of St. John Paul II and of Benedict XVI, and that Cardinal Zen is mistaken in his opposition to the deal.
An Italian text of the letter from Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, dated Feb. 26, was published Feb. 29 by La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana.
“I desire first of all to emphasize that, in their approach to the situation of the Catholic Church in China, there is a profound symphony of the thought and of the action of the last three Pontificates, which -- out of respect for the truth -- have favored dialogue between the two parties and not contrariety,” Cardinal Re wrote.
“Cardinal Zen has affirmed several times that it would be better to have no Accord than than a ‘bad Accord’. The three last Popes did not share this position and supported and accompanied the drafting of the Accord that, at the present moment, seemed to be the only one possible,” he stated.
Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, has been an outspoken opponent of the 2018 agreement between the Vatican and the People’s Republic of China regarding episcopal appointments.
The Church in mainland China has been divided for some 60 years between the underground Church, which is persecuted and whose episcopal appointments are frequently not acknowledged by Chinese authorities, and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, a government-sanctioned organization.
The agreement between the Holy See and Beijing was intended to normalize the situation of China’s Catholics and unify the underground Church and the CPCA.
Cardinal Re, who was confirmed as Dean of the College of Cardinals just six weeks ago, wrote to the cardinals that “with reference to the various public interventions” of Cardinal Zen, “I feel obliged to share some considerations and to offer some elements which favor a serene evaluation of the complex questions regarding the Church in China.”