“Parolin knows he is lying, he knows that I know he is a liar, he knows that I will tell everyone that he is a liar, so in addition to being cheeky, he is also bold,” Cardinal Zen said.
Christians in China have continued to be persecuted and harassed by authorities, Zen said, “despite the agreement.”
Yet, “it seems that in order to save the agreement, the Holy See is closing both eyes on all the injustices that the Communist Party inflicts on the Chinese people,” he said.
In his Oct. 3 speech, Parolin said he had seen signs that the agreement was helping unify underground Catholics with members of the CPCA, and would “definitely” help the Church avoid illicit consecrations of bishops in the future.
There have been “misunderstandings” over the agreement, he said, acknowledging that while there are still “many other problems” that Catholics in China face, they cannot all be addressed at once.
“[W]e know that the road to full normalization will still be a long one, as Benedict XVI predicted in 2007,” Parolin said.
However, Parolin emphasized that the agreement “concerns exclusively the appointment of bishops,” and the Vatican has noted that no further illicit consecrations have taken place since the deal was signed in 2018.
Zen dismissed that as a worthwhile achievement.
“All legitimate bishops, but in a Church that is objectively schismatic, is that good? Is it progress? Is this the beginning of what kind of journey?”
The Vatican-China agreement gave CCP officials a say in the ordination of bishops, but also allowed for the enforcement of “Sinicization” in Church matters, Zen said.
The policy of “sinicization”, announced by Chinese president Xi Jinping in 2015, aims to enforce Chinese and Communist identity on all religious practice in the country. It has included instructing churches to remove images of the Ten Commandments and replace them with sayings of Chairman Mao and Xi.
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Parolin has previously said that “inculturation is an essential condition for a sound proclamation of the Gospel which, in order to bear fruit, requires, on the one hand, safeguarding its authentic purity and integrity and, on the other, presenting it according to the particular experience of each people and culture.”
“These two terms, ‘inculturation’ and ‘sinicization,’ refer to each other without confusion and without opposition,” Parolin said in 2019.
One Chinese bishop, Bishop John Fang Xingyao of Linyi in the province of Shandong, said in November of 2019 that “[l]ove for the homeland must be greater than the love for the Church and the law of the country is above canon law.”
The Chinese Communist Party’s policy of “Sinicization” of religion “is not what we mean by inculturation, it is the religion of the Communist Party,” Zen wrote Tuesday, where “the first divinity is the country, the party, the party leader.”
“How can the Most Eminent say that all this has nothing to do with the agreement? Can life be cut into pieces?” Zen asked.
The cardinal also accused Cardinal Parolin of manipulating Pope Francis on the agreement.