Hong Kong, China, Mar 2, 2020 / 11:54 am
Cardinal Zen on Sunday responded to the claim of the Dean of the College of Cardinals that Benedict XVI had approved a draft agreement with the Chinese government on bishop nominations. Zen invited the dean to produce archival evidence which he claimed to have seen.
“If you want to prove to me that the recently signed agreement was already approved by Benedict XVI, you just have to show me the text of the agreement, which I am barred from seeing till now, and the archival evidence which you say you could verify,” Cardinal Joseph Zen Zi-kiun, Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, wrote March 1 in an open letter addressed to Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re.
“Then there remains to be explained why it was not signed at that time,” Cardinal Zen added.
Cardinal Re, who was confirmed Dean of the College of Cardinals six weeks ago, sent a letter dated Feb. 26, and publicized Feb. 29, claiming that the China-Vatican deal 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.
A provisional agreement regarding episcopal appointments was signed by the Vatican and the People's Republic of China Sept. 22, 2018.
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 wrote that “there is a profound symphony” of thought and action among St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis on the Church in China, and that all three “have favored dialogue between the two parties and not contrariety.