Cardinal swears he won’t speak a word if Pope Francis signs China deal

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/2/9 14:29:25

Children attend Sunday school in Liuhe, Shanxi Province on December 17, 2015. File photo: Li Hao/GT

A possible deal between China and the Vatican over bishop appointments in China has triggered heated exchanges within the Roman Catholic hierarchy with retired Hong Kong bishop Cardinal Joseph Zen adding fuel to the fire Friday by swearing he would not speak out again if Pope Francis signs the agreement.

Cardinal Zen told Hong Kong radio D100 Friday morning in an interview that in the framework of the possible deal the bishop appointment would go through three stages: election in the diocese, appointment from the Chinese Bishops’ Conference and then approval from the pope. Zen questioned the validity of the election in China and the legitimacy of the Bishops’ Conference. Zen added that he doesn’t “oppose an imperfect deal, but objects to an evil one.”

Zen said he doesn’t believe the Vatican represents Pope Francis as regards the deal, but if Pope Francis signs the agreement in the end, he would fall into silence as he believes that “there would be no Church if there was no pope.”

“I’m convinced that current stance of the Vatican is not from the pope, but from some others. But if the pope signs it, that means he has approved it. Then I have to cooperate, because maybe he has more wisdom than I,” said the cardinal.

Zen went on slamming Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin for his remarks during a La Stampa interview.  During the interview, Cardinal Parolin said, “If someone is asked to make a sacrifice, small or great, it must be clear to everyone that this is not the price of a political exchange, but falls within the evangelical perspective of a greater good, the good of the Church of Christ.”

Parolin also quoted Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter to the Chinese Catholics in 2007 in which the pontiff said, “The solution to existing problems cannot be pursued via an ongoing conflict with the legitimate civil authorities.”

Zen said Parolin’s interview was full of “specious conclusions” and “fallacies” by distorting Pope Benedict XVI’s letter. 

Zen complained that the Vatican’s advisory committee for China in which he is a member has not been convened since 2014. “Everyone was happy when the pope chose Parolin as secretary of state, but it turned out he’s terrible,” said Zen, adding that he proposed to Parolin that the committee’s advice should be considered when decisions on China are made but Parolin didn’t hear a word from the committee.

Archbishop praises China

In contrast to Cardinal Zen, a Vatican archbishop praised China for being a model of carrying out Catholic social teachings. “At this moment, those who best realize the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese,” the Vatican Insider's Italian version quoted Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy for Sciences, as saying on February 2.

Archbishop Sorondo also said he found China to be an extraordinary country. "(In China) you do not have shantytowns, you do not have drugs, young people do not take drugs. There is a positive national consciousness, they want to show that they have changed, they already accept private property," he told Vatican Insider.

He also mentioned the US, but in an unfavorable tone. "(In China) the economy does not dominate politics, as it happens in the United States, according to the Americans themselves," he said.

"The world is dynamic and is evolving. Today's China is not what it was during the years of John Paul II; it is neither Russia during the Cold War," he added.

Sorondo visited China in 2017 for a conference against human organ trafficking. The archbishop told the Global Times in August that, in regards to fighting organ trafficking "it is the great hope that China could be a model for all the countries, especially those in Asia and the Pacific region."

He also told the Global Times during his visit that "Pope Francis loves China and loves the people of China, its history and population. We hope China can have a great future."

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