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時隔一個月，帕羅林樞機在與聖座駐各地外交人員聚會時又提及中梵談判的情況。按意大利時事評論員山德羅 •馬吉斯特（Sandro Magister）在 Chiesa（教會）新聞網的報導，帕羅林樞機說：「教廷會同意主教候選人由內地主教團推薦。」這使我非常擔心。
日理萬機的教廷國務卿，帕羅林樞機還奔波南北，最近在意大利東北的波代諾內（Pordenone）教區作了一場重要的講話。波代諾內是剛恆毅樞機（Cardinal Celso Costantini）的故鄉，剛樞機是首任教廷駐華代表，而演講內容正關於已故剛樞機為中梵初次建交舖路的努力。最後帕羅林用了不少篇幅談論到最近中梵對話的意義和目的，引起全球華人的關注和期望。之前教廷國務卿在接受意大利天主教報紙Avvenire訪問時，也報告了有關聖座與中國改善關係的進展。
We must admire the zeal of his Eminence Card. Parolin, the Secretary of State of His Holiness. He is not only working hard in the Vatican Palaces, but goes around to let his voice be heard. In his high level dissertation in Pordenone (Italy) he talked about the wonderful contribution of Card. Costantini to the Church in China and made many revealing comments on the present negotiations between the Holy See and the Chinese Government. I suppose everybody would expect me to be most interested in the subject (I noticed also some recent reflections that Card. Parolin expressed on “Avvenire”, the official daily newspaper of the Italian Bishops’ Conference).
I am sorry I could not follow the joyous wave of optimism, instead I have a few questions and doubts, which I try to expose here with due respect to His Eminence, believing also that other readers of the dissertation may nurture the same doubts.
Card. Parolin says that the problems (of our present day) are not totally dissimilar from those which Card. Costantini helped overcome 70 years ago.
That sounds strange to me. In my humble understanding, they are toto coelo different.
At the time of Card. Costantini the problem was how to get rid of the “missionary imperialists” (imperialist politicians of Western Powers, posing as the only legitimate protectors of the Church and of the missionaries) who tried to prevent the Holy See from establishing direct relations with the Chinese Government which would have been very happy to have them.
Today, the problem faced by the Holy See is how to reach an acceptable agreement with an atheistic and totalitarian Government, determined to pursue their unchanged policy of subjugating (the word they use is “guiding”) all the religions, especially Christianity.
I do not think it is necessary to list all the facts and the many, even most recent, pronouncements from the Chinese Government. They are of public dominion and of easy consultation.
If what I have said in part A is valid, then, while we show our admiration for the indomitable Card. Costantini in carrying out successfully his difficult mission of bringing the Chinese faithful into the protecting bosom of Mother Church, today we have to sympathize with our officials in the Vatican diplomacy, because what they have to face is a “mission impossible” (or almost impossible).
How can we reasonably hope that the Chinese Government would consent to an agreement which would guarantee a real religious freedom? This would mean that they are willing to give back to the Church the authority which they are exercising since so many decades? This would mean to suppose that the Chinese Government has changed radically their ideology. This would also mean that we believe our counterpart has the same good will as we have, that they pursue also the truth, the good, and all the universal values as we do.
One has the right to choose between optimism and pessimism, but a responsible judgment must be based on facts.
– Card. Parolin encourages us to trust in Divine Providence. But God does not guarantee us that the turmoil may be soon over. Time is in God’s hands.
– Card. Parolin recognizes the need of proceeding “in fear and trembling”, but what we see is an exaggerated optimism. They seem to be happily sure that they are writing unprecedented pages of history (mind you, “not out of desire to reach who knows what worldly success”, but to contribute to world peace).
We have raised the voice of caution, but we are been deemed guilty of lack of trust, of judging badly other people.
– Card. Parolin says that the Pope knows “what progress has been made” (in recent years?). It is unfortunate that we are not given to see those progresses. What we see is that, to please the Chinese Government, the Holy See has closed her eyes in the face of so many abuses, abdicating her authority. Now we are reaching the bottom of the pit, from which it will be difficult to climb up again. It may take a miracle. We believe in miracles, but we should not tempt God.
We are told that we are on a journey towards a goal. Then it is important to know first of all FROM WHERE THE JOURNEY IS STARTING OFF.
CAN WE REACH AN AGREEMENT ON “WHERE IS THE REAL PROBLEM TODAY”?
– There is too much talk of reconciliation (between the two communities of the Church in China). I was among the first to say that there are no two Churches in China, because, both in the underground and above ground, there is a common desire to be in union with the Successor of Peter. The division into two communities is created by the Government. The latter, on the one hand, refuses to recognize as Catholic those who profess obedience to the Holy Father in matters of faith and discipline; on the other hand, it holds ever more tightly its pressure on those who, for whatever reason, have accepted to be subject like slaves; with a few of them, the opportunists, becoming their collaborators.
The problem is not about reconciliation. When Bishop Ma of Shanghai declared his loyalty to the Holy Father, the underground community went immediately to promise him their obedience. (But now, before the mystery of his “self-confession” is clarified, how can the Holy See push the underground to come out to support him?)
– In the same way, there is no problem in being both Catholic and Chinese. We never had any doubt that we are authentically both Catholic and Chinese. It is the Chinese Communist Party that wants to have the monopoly in judging who is and who is not a Chinese patriot (just as, even more ridiculously, they hold themselves judges of who is a Catholic or a priest or a bishop!)
Are we going to be more Chinese if we allow the Communist Party to run our Church?
I repeat: CAN WE AGREE ON WHERE IS THE REAL PROBLEM?
Don’t you see that the problem is how to free the above-ground community from the slavery? This means to ask the Government to release them. Without real freedom, how can there be a life of full communion with the Pope (“To live out in a positive way their belonging to the Church” in the words of Cardinal Parolin)?
Are the Chinese Communists ready for that?
The genuine realism is to know and to acknowledge the reality, otherwise realism (healthy or otherwise) or what the Communists call “pragmatism and flexibility” would only be euphemisms for compromise, surrender, and self-betrayal.
The reality may be cruel, but we have to face it squarely. We must see clearly where we are now, before we can start walking towards where we must be.
Card. Parolin says: the Pope wants us to abandon the logic of “either this or nothing”. The expression “either this or nothing” sounds negative and rude. If it means: “either you grant us full freedom, or we don’t even talk”, it may be questionable. But if to avoid “doing nothing” you are ready “to do anything”, that may be wrong also. We can not refuse dialog, but we can not agree to anything just to make the dialog a success. The dialog must have a bottom line, it is not acceptable to go against the principle of faith just to have a “successful” conclusion to a dialog.
Pope Benedict in his letter of 2007 said: “the solution to existing problems cannot be pursued via an ongoing conflict with the legitimate civil authorities; at the same time, though, compliance with those authorities is not acceptable when they interfere unduly in matters regarding the faith and discipline of the Church.”
To deny one’s own identity doesn’t solve the problems. One must hold fast to one’s own faith, otherwise the martyrs would be fouls.
Let us ask and answer unambiguously the following questions: Is there any real Bishops’ Conference in the official community of the Church in China? No, there isn’t! It is the Government that runs the Church in the name of the so-called “One Association and One Conference”.
Is there in China a schismatic Church? Yes, there is! Even if the Popes prefer not to call it such, because they know that many are in it under enormous pressure.
EVERY JOURNEY MUST START FROM HERE!
And remember what Saint Mother Theresa of Calcutta said: “God doesn’t ask us to be successful, but faithful”.
24 September 2016
Ammiro il grande zelo dell’eminentissimo Segretario di Stato di Sua Santità Card. Pietro Parolin che non solo lo tiene tanto occupato nei Palazzi Apostolici, ma lo spinge anche a portare la sua voce altrove. La sua parlata magistrale a Pordenone ha suscitato interesse ben oltre i confini dell’Italia, ha parlato infatti della Cina. Come un figlio di quella Nazione, mi sono subito messo a leggere e studiare l’importante testo, completandolo con quello che egli aveva espresso su “L’Avvenire”.
Vorrei tanto lasciarmi prendere dalle grandi speranze che Sua Eminenza sta suscitando, ma sono trattenuto da molte perplessità. Con tutto il rispetto, espongo qui alcuni dubbi che non riesco a debellare e che forse altri pure timidamente nutrono nel loro cuore.
Sua Eminenza il Card. Parolin dice che i problemi di oggi (riguardo alle relazioni tra la Santa Sede e la Cina) non sono totalmente dissimili da quelli che (Card.) Celso Costantini ha aiutato a superare 70 anni fa. Ciò mi fa non poca meraviglia. Al mio modesto modo di capire, i problemi sono proprio toto coelo diversi.
Allora si trattava di liberare la Santa Sede dall’ “imperialismo missionario”(cioè dalla prepotenza di politici occidentali imperialisti, i quali, facendosi forti del diritto, ritenuto “esclusivo”, di protezione della Chiesa e dei missionari, cercavano di impedire che la Santa Sede stabilisse relazioni dirette con le Autorità cinesi, le quali ne sarebbero state ben felici).
Oggi invece la Santa Sede ha da fare con un Governo cinese ateo e totalitario, deciso a perseguire, già con grande successo, la sua politica immutata di soggiogare (“guidare” è il termine da loro usato) tutte le religioni, specialmente quelle di origine occidentale, cioè cristiane.
Non credo necessario elencare qui tutti i fatti e pronunciamenti, anche recentissimi, del Governo cinese che provano il mio asserto. Sono di pubblico dominio e di facile consultazione.
Se il punto precendente è valido, allora, mentre ammiriamo l’intrepido Card. Costantini, il quale è riuscito a realizzare la sua difficile missione di portare il popolo cristiano cinese nel grembo della Madre Chiesa, oggi non possiamo che compatire i nostri ufficiali incaricati della diplomazia vaticana, perché essi si trovano davanti ad una missione impossibile o quasi impossibile.
Come si può sperare che il Governo cinese acconsenta ad un accordo che assicuri una vera libertà religiosa? Restituisca alla Chiesa l’autorità sua propria che esso ha già usurpato da tanti decenni? Ciò farebbe supporre che il Governo cinese abbia cambiato radicalmente la sua ideologia. Ciò vuol dire che crediamo che anche la nostra controparte ha la stessa nostra buona volontà, che i communisti perseguono pure il vero, il buono e tutti i valori universali.
Si può scegliere di essere ottimisti o pessimisti, ma un giudizio responsabile deve fondarsi sui fatti.
– Il Card. Parolin ci dice di fidarsi della Divina Provvidenza, ma questa non ci assicura che presto finirà la bufera, il tempo è nelle mani di Dio.
– Il Card. Parolin ammette pure che bisogna procedere cum timore et tremore, ma quel che vediamo è un ottimismo ad oltranza. Sembra infatti allegramente sicuro che sta scrivendo una pagina senza precedenti nella storia (ovviamente non si tratta del desiderio di chissà quale successo mondano, ma di contribuire alla pace del mondo).
Abbiamo pure alzato la voce della cautela, ma abbiamo meritato il rimprovero della mancanza di fiducia, di pensare male degli altri.
– Il Card. Parolin dice che anche il Papa sa quali progressi si siano fatti. Ma noi siamo all’oscuro. Quel che vediamo invece è che nel desiderio di compiacere alla Cina, la Santa Sede ha rinunciato sovente alla sua autorità ed ha tollerato ogni sorta di abusi, per cui la Gerarchia della comunità ufficiale si trova oggi quasi al fondo della fossa, sarà difficile risalire il pendio. Ci vorrà un miracolo. Crediamo nei miracoli, ma non possiamo tentare il Signore.
Si dice che si tratta di un viaggio. Ma un punto preliminare è di sapere DA CHE PUNTO STIAMO PARTENDO.
SIAMO D’ACCORDO SU “DOVE È IL VERO PROBLEMA?”
– Mi pare che si parli troppo della riconciliazione (tra le due comunità).
Io sono stato certamente tra I primi a dire che non ci sono due Chiese Cattoliche in Cina, in quanto tutti nel loro cuore sono in unione con il Successore di Pietro. La divisione delle due comunità è stata creata dal Governo, il quale dichiara fuori legge chi non accetta di far parte di una Chiesa indipendente da Roma, e tiene come schiavi chi, per qualunque ragione, ha accettato di sottomettersi ad esso. Purtroppo si sono poi infiltrati lungo gli anni anche degli opportunisti che collaborano volentieri con esso.
– L’unione esiste già nei cuori. Facile sarà la riunificazione. Quando il Vescovo Ma di Shanghai ha dichiarato di distanziarsi dalla Associazione Patriottica, la comunità clandestina gli ha subito promesso obbedienza (però oggi, con il mistero della clamorosa “ritrattazione” non ancora risolto, come possono i clandestini accettare l’ordine da Roma di andare a sostenere Mons. Ma in caso venisse all’aperto?)
– Mi pare che si parli troppo anche dell’essere insieme Cattolici e Cinesi. Non abbiamo mai visto alcuna contraddizione in questo. È il Partito Comunista Cinese che oggi si arroga il diritto di giudicare chi è patriottico e chi non lo è (ancora più ridicolo è che esso si sente qualificato perfino a giudicare su chi è veramente cattolico, chi è veramente un sacerdote e un vescovo).
C’è chi crede forse che saremo più cinesi se ci sottomettiamo alle ingerenze del Partito nelle cose della nostra Chiesa?
Ripeto: SIAMO D’ACCORDO SU DOVE È IL VERO PROBLEMA?
Per me il problema è di tirar fuori i nostri fratelli dalla schiavitù. Senza una vera libertà, come si può parlare di “un modo più positivo di vivere la fede”?
È pronto il Governo cinese a riconoscere questo diritto ai suoi cittadini?
Realismo è conoscere e riconoscere la realtà, altrimenti il realismo (sano o non sano) oppure “pragmatismo e flessibilità” (nel linguaggio del portavoce del Governo cinese) sono tutti eufemismi per coprire la realtà del compromesso, della resa incondizionata e del tradimento della propria dignità.
La realtà può essere crudele, ma dobbiamo guardarla in faccia. Solo sapendo dove ci troviamo ora, possiamo cominciare il viaggio verso la meta.
Card. Parolin dice: il Santo Padre ci chiede di abandonare la logica del “ o cosi, o non si fa niente”. L’espressione deve essere analizzata. Se significa “o ci date la libertà o non ci parliamo”, allora è negativa, non dobbiamo rifuitare il dialogo. Ma se per far riuscire il dialogo siamo disposti a “fare qnalunque cosa”, meanche è giustificato. Il dialogo ha pure i suoi limiti, non possiamo negare la nostra identità.
Papa Benedetto nella sua lettera del 2007 dice: “La soluzione dei problemi esistenti non può essere perseguita attraverso un permanente conflitto con le legittime Autorità civili; nello stesso tempo, però, non è accettabile un’arrendevolezza alle medesime quando esse interferiscono indebitamente in materie che riguardano la fede e la disciplina della Chiesa.”
Non è lecito rinnegare la nostra identità, altrmenti i martiri sarebbero stati dei sciocchi.
Domandiamoci senza equivoci: c’è o non c’è una conferenza episcopale nella comunità ufficiale della Chiesa in Cina?
Non c’è! C’è solo il Governo che gestisce direttamente la Chiesa col nome di “Una Associazione (Patriottica) e una Conferenza (Episcopale)”.
C’è o non c’è una Chiesa scismatica?
C’è! Oggettivamente, Anche se i Papi preferiscono non chiamarla tale perché sanno che molti vi si trovano sotto enorme pressione.
OGNI SFORZO DEVE PARTIRE DA QUESTA REALTÀ.
E ricordiamo il detto della Santa Madre Teresa di Calcutta: “Il Signore non si aspetta il nostro successo, ma la nostra fedeltà”.
24 Settembre 2016
你們慷慨的捐贈，令我們的送月餅行動可以做得更多，範圍更廣 – 今年中秋，我們除贈送月餅予超過 9,000名囚友外，更感謝20多位由十歲到七十歳的聖雲先會義工於九月十四日，即中秋節前一天從奧撒南綜合服務中心出發，將二百個月餅及他們準備的水果與深水埗、長沙灣區的貧困長者、露宿者及南亞居民一起分享，讓大家都能歡渡這個團圓佳節。
人民對警察傳統的尊敬已失了，少數害群之馬固然可惡，但他們的上司讓他們以為可以放肆濫權。政府更是罪魁，制造了社會憤怒，卻讓前綫警員 － 我們的兄弟姊妹 － 去冒險。
最近我受到一種稱為「肺炎支原體」的病毒攻擊，住院三星期，我回到修院後仍需要一段頗長的復原期。豈料出院後知道，我又曾受到另類攻擊，那是來自一位意大利的「老友」詹尼．瓦倫特（Gianni Valente），他的文章登在頗暢銷的一份報紙La Stampa上。我的健康狀況本不適合我捲入另一場鬥爭，但真理有它的權利，我不可以不出來作出一些澄清。
瓦倫特提到了“Pax Sino-Vatican”（中梵和平），這讓我想起了著名的“Pax Romana”（羅馬和平，指羅馬帝國統治下的和平時代），但那「和平」完全是由刀劍爭回來的，是軍隊打出來的，他們凱旋回羅馬時拖著一大群奴隸！
中國共產黨殺了千千萬萬人後，或許不用再殺那麼多人。但已存在一個「暴力的處境」，最基本的人權被否決了。難道大家沒看到中共最近在國外多麽專橫？在國內壓迫得多麼厲害？（喬治．魏格爾（George Wiegel）最近在《First Things》雜誌有一篇文章值得看看 http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2016/07/the-ostpolitik-failed-get-over-it）。
聽說他們只討論主教任命的問題，而把其他的問題置之不理。但那些都是天大的問題呀！？即使祇討論主教任命的唯一話題，我們能接受現狀嗎？「民主選舉」？（中國是沒有真選舉的，都是在演戲）。「由主教團批准」？（主教團根本不存在，只是名義上的）。「由教宗最後同意」？（只是做個簡單的簽名手續，沒有真正的決定權）。「之後就叫地下的全部上來，進入中國天主教，而不是在中國的天主教會」？（你可能不會注意兩者在中文的差別，從中國天主教矛盾不明顯，但說Chinese Catholic Church矛盾就突出了。）
瓦倫特說「東方政策」早已開始。是的，鐵幕封鎖了東歐，若望二十三世及保祿六世教宗都想找到出路。但真的找到了嗎？教宗和樞機們當時根本不清楚鐵幕後面的情形，只好委托卡薩羅尼全權負責，他這個可憐人，也只能在黑暗中摸索（而對方在梵蒂岡則佈滿間諜！看一下魏格爾的《The End and the Beginning》那本書就知道了）。
得到什麼成果？「我們保證了有主教！」。是怎樣的主教？那些主教都是傀儡，是無神政府的官員，不是羊群的牧者，是掠食的狼。「我們努力使教會不致滅亡（modus non Moriendi）！」這些國家的教會不是因為梵蒂岡的外交努力而生存下來，而是靠教友的堅強信仰保存下來的！
After three weeks (11 June – 2 July) of terrible battle against the attack of a virus called “Mycoplasma pneumoniae” I am back to my religious house for a long recovery. But here I am being told that I was subject to another kind of attack, on the prestigious pages of “La Stampa”, from my “friend” Gianni Valente.
My health condition could exempt me from being involved in another battle, but the truth has its rights and I cannot desert my duty of offering some clarifications.
AN APPEAL OF MINE IS BEING QUESTIONED
First of all the “status quaestions”. It is a short appeal I made from my blog to my brothers in mainland China. Valente has found at last the “corpus delicti” (the material evidence of a crime) and cries to the scandal, not hiding a certain complacency.
The title of my appeal is translated: “Brothers and sisters of the continent, we need to do ourselves justice!” I do not criticize the translator, I don’t even know how to translate exactly my chinese. It is difficult (it is chinese!)
The words I have used are, literally, “contend the breath!” Here the “breath” corresponds to “speak out” in Italian and the “last breath” would mean the “final word”. Being able to “breathe out” is a sign of dignity, while it is shame having to hold one’s breath and shut up, because one knows to be in the wrong. The irony is that in our case the last word will be just a resounding silence. Here is the real content of my appeal: “Let us retreat in silence with dignity!”
It is not a call to battle as wants Vallente: “…ignore it! Don’t consider it! Dissent from it!” No, It is just a call to retreat, an invitation to calm, to accept the defeat without giving in irrational reactions (let’s not make prophets of our enemies, who say that from papists we are going to become apostates!).
WHAT DEFEAT? ORDER TO CHANGE COURSE.
But what defeat it is about?
We know that in China the atheist regime has always wanted to totally control the religions. Until now large groups of Catholics, both underground and in officialdom, making great sacrifices, remain faithful to the Church founded by Jesus on Peter and the Apostles. But today a specter appears in the horizon, of a statement coming right from the authority of the Church, that tells them to change course. What was declared as opposed to the doctrine and discipline of the Church will become legitimate and normal; everyone will have to submit to the Government that manages the Church; everyone will have to obey to bishops who until today are illegitimate and even excommunicated. So, they have been wrong for decades these poor “confrontationists”?
My appeal is to prepare the minds for such an eventuality, which once seemed impossible, now it looks very likely. What to do? Accept to go back, as Valente says, to the catacomb situation, which is not the ordinary situation. But, when the ordinary is illegitimate and the legitimate is not allowed, there is no choice but to hold to the legitimate in a extraordinary way.
Valente mentions a “Sino-Vatican Pax”. This makes me think of the famous “Pax Romana”, a “peace” built and maintained with iron and fire, …the symbol is the triumphant return of the conquering legions pulling behind hosts of slaves.
There you see, my appeal is full of sadness and sorrow. Here I could finish my article begging Valente to have mercy on us, to respect at least our sorrow and let us mourn in peace.
(I remember one expression which appeared long time ago on a catholic website in China: “For many years our enemies have failed to kill us. Now we have to die at the hands of our Father. All right, let’s go to die”.) (Have you not ever noticed that the child, even when he receives some spanking from the mom, he does not run away, but clings on to the leg of the mother, maybe crying and screaming…he has no where to go away from the mother.)
ACCEPTANCE OF THE AGREEMENT AND OBJECTION OF CONSCIENCE. LOYALTY TO THE POPE IN SPITE OF THE POPE.
I am sure Valente will not leave me alone so easily. He will say: “how about your peremptory prohibition to join the patriotic Association?”
My first statement is: “you need not follow (that agreement all the way)”. Yes, in our acceptance of the provisions from Rome there is a limit, the limit of conscience. We can not follow that eventual agreement in what appears to our conscience to be clearly contrary to the authentic Catholic faith. Pope Francis has often defended the right to conscientious objection; then he, a Jesuit, who leaves even the most complicated problems to personal discernment, will not deny this right to his children.
The limit of our acceptance makes it even more painful. It will be for me a real tearing of the heart, between the Salesian instinctive devotion to the Pope (yes, we call it devotion. The 3 Salesian devotions: to the Blessed Sacrament, to Our Lady and to the Pope) and the inability to follow him all the way in the case, for example, that he encourages to embrace the Patriotic Association and join a Church totally subservient to an atheist Government.
We will have to refuse to take that step just because it formally contradicts the petrine authority. Yes, in the case under consideration (in this moment we still strongly hope that it does not happen) we will have to be loyal to the Pope (the Papacy, the authority of the Vicar of Christ) in spite of the Pope. If Gianni Valente gets scandalized, it means only that he is lacking knowledge of Church history.
In the final part of his article, Valente speaks of the “real communion with the Bishop of Rome”. We entrust to the eternal Judge do judge whether the truly real communion with the Pope is ours or that of those who today cry out loud (as, for example, someone, interviewed by L’Eglise d’Asie, said): “Come on, get ready, everyone, to obey the Pope, whatever he decides!” (obviously this person has great hope that the Pope will confirm the present abnormal state, in which he will continue to enjoy his acquired benefits.
DO NOT JOIN THE PATRIOTIC ASSOCIATION. TEACHING AUTHORITY OF THE POPES.
Valente would insist: “There is in your appeal the peremptory prohibition to join the Patriotic Association!” Yes, I have said: “We must absolutely not join the Patriotic Association”, but not on my own authority, it is the authoritative teaching of Pope Benedict, confirmed by Pope Francis, who said that the letter of Pope Benedict is still fully valid and we do well to read it.
I have said: “according to the letter of Pope Benedict, the principle of an independent Church, i.e. the way of letting the Government to run the Church, can not be harmonized with our faith.” Valente would be right to say that I did not make an exact quotation, but I disagree that it was “an unfaithful summary of the original text.” Anyone acquainted with the reality of the Church in China will find my expression “the Government runs the Church” to be an exact summary of what Pope Benedict has described in his letter with different words:
(Chapter VII, section 1): “…painful situation of strong differences, involving the lay faithful and their Pastors, highlights among the various causes the significant part played by agencies that have been imposed as the principal determinants of the life of the Catholic community. Still today, in fact, recognition from these agencies is the criterion for declaring a community, a person or a religious place legal and therefore official…”
(Section 5): “…it is clear that the claim of some agencies, desired by the State and extraneous to the structure of the Church, to place themselves above the Bishops and to guide the life of the ecclesial community, does not correspond to Catholic doctrine.”
(Section 6): “…the declared purpose of the afore mentioned agencies to implement ‘the principles of independence and autonomy, self-management and democratic administration of the Church is incompatible with Catholic doctrine…” (The mane of “Patriotic Association” is explicitly mentioned in the foot note).
(Chapter VIII, section 2): “…persons who are not ‘ordained’, and sometimes not even baptized, control and take decisions concerning important ecclesial questions, including the appointment of Bishops, in the name of various State agencies. Consequently, we have witnessed a contempt for the Petrine and Episcopal ministries…”
The Government says that the “official” Church is governed by “One Association and One Conference” (The Patriotic Association and the Bishops’ Conference), but who leads this “two-in-one” organism? It is the Government through the officer of the S.A.R.A. (State Agency Religious Affairs), who presides over the meetings. (The Government doesn’t even feel the need to hide such reality showing with ostentation photographs where the director of S.A.R.A. chairs the meeting, while the president of the Patriotic Association and the president of Bishops’ Conference, to his right and left, head bowed, listen to his instructions).
The supreme authority of that Church resides in The National Assembly of Catholic representatives, which is convened every five years. To preside over such meeting in the past was always Mr. Liu Bai-nian; at presidential table seat all those who are going to be elected, during the meeting, to be presidents and vice-presidents of the Patriotic Association and of the Bishops’ Conference. Mr. Liu Bai-nian was declared Honorary President in the last Assembly, so he must be already in retirement, but in reality he is still working as before, running from the North to the South of China. We will see who is going to preside over the coming Assembly.
I think I have been able to prove sufficiently that my words in the blog perfectly match the letter of Pope Benedict. But Valente doesn’t seem to be so sure of what he says. When trying to justify what in my opinion is an agreement contrary to Popes’ teaching he used such complicated wording, which I struggle to understand in spite of my studies of philosophy and theology and my knowledge of Italian. He presented that agreement as “ …measures and practices… as a last resort, to dodge the implications of a possible future beginning of an understanding between Beijing and the Holy See” (my congratulation, if you can understand this!)
WE ARE IN THE DARK, AND THE CONJECTURES ARE NOT REASSURING.
I have said that the possibility of an unacceptable agreement now looks likely. I have said also that in this moment we still desperately hope that it does not occur. So nothing is certain yet. Then why so much fuss?
It is true that we know nothing for certain, we are kept completely in the dark. We know that bilateral contacts are multiplying, but we don’t know the state of those negotiations.
Unofficial contacts existed before. At the time when Cardinal Tomko was the Prefect of the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples, i.e. till year 2000, there was not yet a commission for the Church in China, but periodical meetings were held to discuss matters about the Church in China, meetings that were “joint” and “extended” (joint = with officials from both the Secretariat of State and the Congregation for Evangelization; extended = with participation of experts). As the president of the Union of Religious Superiors in Hong Kong, then as a teacher in Seminaries in China and finally as Coadjutor Bishop of Hong Kong, I was invited to those meetings, during which Mons. Celli, then undersecretary of the Secretariat of State and chief negotiator with Beijing, used to brief us on those negotiations.
During the years of the successor to Cardinal Tomko there was a complete void. With the successor of the successor, in spite of the existence of a fully-fledged Commission for the Church in China, the negotiations with Beijing have become an exclusive reserve for the Roman curia, no information ever shared with the members of the Commission.
Today the Commission itself has quietly disappeared. After the election of Pope Francis a meeting of the Commission was announced for the spring of 2014, but no more a word about it (no death certificate, no obituary). Extreme disrespect to the members of the Commission and to the one who set it up in the first place! Extreme deviation even from the tradition of formal politeness of the Roman Curia!
The fact is that one of the two living chinese Cardinals (and not suspect of senility) is barred from knowing anything about how they are negotiating the affair of the Church in China. There is still a chinese in “Rome”, but he must be a nuisance, he was exiled to Guam. How sad it is that the proclaimed promoters of dialogue, have suppressed it within the Church.
In this absolute lack of communication we can only resort to conjectures and guessing, trying to put together pieces of news from here and there. Fr. Heyndrickx seems to know everything, he is friend both of Rome and Beijing! At some distance there in Asia News usually pretty well informed. The picture we can make of these un-confirmed pieces of information is not reassuring at all! Things seem to be going in the direction we dread to see.
AM I A CONSTANT FIGHTER? I MAKE MYSELF THE VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS
So far we are talking about the present crucial situation. But Valente wants to put me back into the larger picture and crown me as the “unstoppable fighter” (or of a “gladiator” in the parlance of certain high ranking Eminence).
Valente accuses me of “20 year mobilization against any steps taken by the Holy See to foster relations between the chinese authorities and the Catholic Church which he did not approve of.” Even more, “a set and pre-packaged representation of the case of chinese Catholics over past 70 years, which aims to sweep under the carpet any facts that are not useful in the ongoing struggle.”
Seventy years are so many. Seventy years ago the chinese communists have not yet conquered the power. Would I be guilty of having distorted the whole history of the Church in China under communist regime from its very beginning? How can I answer to accusation of such dimensions?
May be it makes more sense to talk about the 20 years. It was the 1996. At the end of that year, I was made the Coadjutor Bishop of Hong Kong. If I am not mistaken, Gianni Valente was then very much my friend and would not have qualified me as a fighter. He knew and appreciated the fact that right after the Tiananmen Square incident I entered China and for seven years went around teaching in the Seminaries of the official Catholic Community (Shanghai, Xian, Wuhan, Shijiazhuang, Beijing, Shenyang) spending six months a years there, in continuous dialogue with those our brothers and their persecutors. It was a long living together. The authorities treated me rather kindly, so I have no personal resentment towards those communists. Had Rome not made me a bishop, I would have continued teaching philology and theology in those seminaries “with high appreciation from the authorities for my good behaviour”.
But during that long living together I witnessed the humiliation of those our Bishops, the suffering of so many bothers because of their faith and their deep “sensus Ecclesiae” which made me feel very humble.
It may be more exact to say that the “mobilization” started in 2006, i.e. ten years later, when Pope Benedict made me a Cardinal. If since then I am a fighter, it was not out of my own whim. I speak out because I am the voice of the voiceless. In China there is no freedom of expression!
May I be allowed a digression? I can not believe that Valente ignores the fact that in China there is no freedom of expression. Then how can he affirm that the bishops he interviewed in China could say whatever they wanted? Especially those bishops who are trying to come out from the underground and get recognition from the Government, they can only say what please the Government. One of them told Valente: “there is no Patriotic Association in my diocese”. The next day Government officer came to set up the Association. Valente may not know that.
I am the voice of the voiceless not only to protest against the Communist Authorities, but also to put certain questions to our Roman Authorities. All these years actions were posited which offend the doctrine and the discipline of our Church: illegitimate and excommunicated bishops perform pontifical rites and sacred ordinations, legitimate bishops take part in illegitimateepiscopal ordinations up to four times; almost the total participation of the bishops of the official community at the National Assembly of catholic representatives. No word came from Rome! Don’t our brothers in China have the right to get confused and make questions?
INTERNAL FIGHT? AM I AGAINST THE DIALOGUE? THE DIALOGUE MUST SUCCED AT ANY COST?
What Valente emphasizes is not my fight against the communists, but rather my dissent from those in Rome who hold the handle of the knife in matters regarding the Church in China.
Indeed, this is serious matter. But where is the problem? Some say: you are against the dialogue! How can that be? I strongly believe in what Pope Benedict says in his letter of 2007, chapter IV, section7, “…the solution to existing problems cannot be pursued via an ongoing conflict with the legitimate civil authorities (obviously only in the conclusions of dialogue you have finally the solution of problems). But the Pope went on saying: “…at the some time compliance with those authorities is not acceptable when they interfere unduly in matters regarding the faith and discipline of the Church”. The same principle was affirmed by Pope Francis when he spoke to the Asian Bishops in Korea, that the first condition for a true dialogue consists in the “coherence to one’s own identity.”
So the foundation for hoping in the success of a dialogue lies in the sincere will to respect one’s own identity and that of the dialogue partner. Is there such foundation in our case? Can a totalitarian Government accept a religion which claims its own supreme internal authority? Can a religion submit itself to the complete control of an atheist Government?
We must face the fact that the communist Government is a true dictatorship! When I likened our dialogue with a communist Government to San Joseph going to talk to Herod, it sounded like a joke. But it is not that far from the reality. Our dignitaries in the Roman curia, have they ever studied Marxism-Leninism? Yes, don’t forget Lenin, he gave a “eternal” structure to what Karl Marx said to be a “temporary” dictatorship of the proletariat once they achieved the victory in the class struggle.
Dear Italians, you should be grateful to the Lord for having spared you the modern forms of dictatorship: Nazism and communism (Mussolini’s fascism is a laughing matter in comparison). Those who have not lived under those forms of dictatorship may have difficulty to measure all their horror!
In dictatorship regime there is no compromise, there is only total submission, slavery and humiliation.
The chinese communists, after they have killed hundreds of thousands, maybe they don’t need to kill so many nowadays. But the “state of violence” reigns, total denial of most basic human rights.
Who doesn’t know that today chinese communists are ever more arrogant abroad and oppressive at home? (a recent article by George Weigel in First Thing may give you some update). This same Government will use kindness with the Vatican? With all the recent facts (removal of crosses and demolition of Churches and all the speeches and brain washing sessions on the right of the State to guide and lead the religions) how can our most eminent Secretary of State say that “the prospective of dialogue are promising”?
A priest of the underground community, forty years old, name “PEACE”, very much learned and zealous, esteemed and loved by all who know him, died in mysterious circumstance in early November 2015. The public security says they found the body in a river, he must have killed himself. But they refuse to supply any evidence to clarify the true cause of death.
This priest had written: “How can we hope that, while all religions are led by the Government through the Patriotic Association, we Catholics may be exempted? How can we hope to enjoy freedom of speech, while all people in China are deprived of such right?”
So the conclusion is to refuse dialogue? No. But you must go to the negotiating table ready to admit, in the end, perhaps for the hundredth time, that dialogue is not yet possible. How can you reasonably hope in the success of the dialogue? Will the chinese communists give up a little of the complete control of the official community of Catholics they firmly hold in their hands? In the case the dialogue fails, they lose nothing. But they come willingly to the dialogue hoping to bring home a signature, the final blessing of the Popes on the present abnormal state of that Church, which, objectively, is already schismatic. The Popes prefer to avoid the word “schism” only because they know many have been forced into it under severe pressure. To be able to conclude the dialogue at any cost, are our people ready to pay the price of canonizing a schismatic Church?
Seemingly they are limiting the discussion to the question of Bishops’ appointment. But how can they leave out of consideration so many other problems which are enormous? As about the bishops appointment seemingly they tend to ratify the present procedure adopted by the official Church. But that is unacceptable. “Democratic election?” (there is no election in China not manipulated by the Government!); approval by the Bishops Conference? (There is no real Bishops’ Conference, only a name!); final consent of the Pope? (a simple formality?) What about the underground community? Every body will have to join this “Chinese Church”? No more Catholic Church in China! (in chinese the Catholic Church is called “Church of God”, in the term “Chinese Church of God” the contradiction is not obvious, while it is obvious in the term “Chinese Catholic Church”, where “Chinese” contradicts “Catholic”!).
At this pointy I can’t help mentioning the Ostpolitik. “It’s past history!” No, our leaders in the Vatican are still full of illusion in the “miracle” worked by their teacher Cardinal Casaroli (no doubt he was a holy priest).
Originally Ostpolitik is about politics; in that field it makes sense, because here there is the possibility of some bargaining, trading economic gain for political concessions. But what do we have to bargain with those who only understand reasons of money and power? Can we sell the only thing we have: the spiritual power?
The Vatican diplomacy adopted the Ostpolitik under John XXIII and Paul VI. The situation of separation from the East Europe called for a way out. But was the Ostpolitik a real way out? The Iron Curtain cut all the channels of communication. The Popes and Commissions of Cardinals, in the almost complete lack of information, could only give Casaroli carte blanche, and Casaroli had to work in that quasi darkness (while the offices in the Vatican were full of spies – see “The End and the Beginning by George Weigel).
What achievements? “We assured the ecclesiastical hierarchy!” But what hierarchy? Puppet bishops, not shepherds of the flock but ravening wolves, officers of the atheist Governments! “We found a modus non moriendi!” The Churches in those countries have not been saved through the Vatican diplomacy but thanks to the unswerving faith of the simple faithful!
So “confrontation is the only way?” But how can you call it “confrontation”, that of a lamb which refuses to be eaten by the wolf?
Valente has written some time ago that even Cardinal Stephen Wyszynski supported the Ostpolitik of Casaroli. How ridiculous! Of course a gentleman as Cardinal Wyszynski was, he would never publicly criticize the appointment of Casaroli as the Secretary of State by Pope John Paul II or the way Casaroli fulfilled his role.
Why John Paul II has made that appointment? In a film John Paul II is made to say that, precisely because the two had different ways of understanding things,they could complement each other. May be very true. But not a few historians think (maliciously? I don’t think so) that by that appointment John Paul II wanted to reassure his enemies; Casaroli could serve as the “smoke screen”, while John Paul II would work out, from his studio, his own politics of Liberation of Poland from the communist dictatorship.
Late November 2008, I learned about a solemn commemoration of the 50o anniversary of the first illegitimate episcopal ordination in China being in preparation in Beijing. I rushed to Rome, was received by Pope Benedict accompanied by Cardinal Bertone. I pointed out that the commemoration was a act of challenge to the Pope’s letter of 2007 and given the existance of unofficial channel of communication with Beijing, the Vatican should voice its protest. I added a comment saying: Beijing Government dares to challenge the Vatican because they realized that the Vatican was playing Ostpolitik. At that point Pope Benedict said to Bertone: “Do you remember, when John Paul II came here, he said ‘Basta (enough) (to Ostpolitik)!’ There is no need I add anything.”
POPES APPOINT BISHOPS WHO ARE IN THE PATRIOTIC ASSOCIATION AND DO NOT DEMAND THAT THEY LEAVE THE ASSOCIATION. SO?
There is a particular case about which Valente feels so strongly. I must say a word on that. He says popes have appointed bishops who are in the Patriotic Association where they may even hold high position. So, “the fact that those bishops were formal members of the Patriotic Association was never (in the Italian original there is the close ‘di per sé’ which is missing in the English text) an impediment to the full and recognized sacramental communion and hierarchy between them and the Successor of Peter.” Besides, the Popes have never imposed on them the duty of leaving the Association “as a condition for obtaining a papal mandate for their episcopal ministry.”
Of course, when the Pope appoints or recognizes bishops, he gives them the sacramental and jurisdictional power, but this does not prove that “di per sé” there is no contradiction with their membership in the Patriotic Association, which according to Benedict’s letter, is founded on principles contrary to catholic ecclesiology.
The faithful in China often point their finger on this contradiction. The Vatican is not used to answer questions. I drafted a “sussidio (Aid or guide) for the reading of Pope Benedict’s letter”. He had read it carefully and approved it, for obvious reasons only the chinese translation was printed.
In that “sussidio” I first quoted from the letter, Chapter VIII, section 11, where, concerning cases of legitimatization (and approval, which would be of the same nature) the Pope lamented two inconveniences: “1o in most cases priests and the faithful have not been adequately informed that their Bishop has been legitimized, … 2 o what is more, some legitimized Bishops have failed to provide any clear signs to prove that they have been legitimized”. Hence the Pope made the following 2 recommendations: “1o that legitimization, once it has occurred, is brought into the public domain at the earliest opportunity, and 2o that the legitimized Prelates provide unequivocal and ever clearer signs of full communion with the Successor of Peter”.
My comments were: “So, there is no contradiction in Pope’s letter, but there is contradiction, i.e. incoherence, in certain legitimized or approved bishops, they have been accepted into the hierarchical communion by the generosity of the Holy Father, but they failed to live it up coherently. How can people who, in every occasion, shout loud their support for an independent Church, consider themselves to be in communion with the See of Peter?
NEED OF CLARITY