In the middle of December, when Gianni Valente broke the news of the imminent Ninth Assembly of Chinese Catholic Representatives, he rightly qualified it as “The Highest Organism which executes the Religious Policy of the Chinese Authorities for the Catholic Church”.
In more clear words we may say that: it is the most formal and explicit manifestation of the schismatic Nature of the Church in China.
Consequently I asked the question: How can the Holy See just let it take place?
Now comes the Official Declaration from the Holy See. It says that the Holy See “is waiting for hard facts before it makes a judgment”. That means the Holy See would let the Assembly to take place and allow the Catholics to take part in it.
The Declaration says “the position of the Holy See regarding this Assembly is well known”. I have to confess that I have difficulty to understand what that position is exactly.
I remember, in 2010, before the Eighth Assembly, the Pontifical Commission for the Catholic Church in China had issued a communiqué, which obviously had the Pope’s approval, telling the Bishops not to take part in it.
So the Declaration differs from the Communiqué?
If one holds on the communiqué of 2010 (because the mature of the Assembly is objectively “schismatic”) how can he take part in it? Is it not an act of direct and formal cooperation in grivious sin?
Have the people responsible for the Declaration consulted the opinion of the Congregation for the Doctrine (present and past Prefects) and experts in Canon Law (present and former members of the Commission)? The seriousness of the matter seems to demand it.
Coming back to the Declaration: what “hard facts” they are waiting to see? Don’t the people in Vatican already know the working of those Assemblies?
Everything is controlled by the Government. They used to appoint a lay person, Mr. Liu bai-nian, to preside. The members include all the bishops recognized by the Government, plus representatives from priests, nuns and laity (in what proportion in number compared with the bishops? With what kind of election are they chosen?)
They have authority to pass deliberations, e.g. to modify the Constitutions of the Patriotic Association and of the Bishops’ Conference, after some “fake” discussion.
Their main job is to elect the leadership of the Church for the coming 5 years: President and vice-presidents of the Patriotic Association; President and vice-presidents of the Bishops’ Conference (All the candidates are already seated at the presidential table from the beginning of the Assembly).
Does the Holy See expect radical changes of this procedure?
The Declaration also says: “all the people are waiting to see some positive signals (from the Assembly). What positive signals do they expect to see? That the Government decides to relinquish their control and interference in the internal affairs of the Catholic Church? That the Assembly, led by the Bishops, puts up a “revolution”, swear their loyalty to the Pope and no more to the Atheist Government? (Without a good probability to get these facts there is no sufficient justification for taking part in such Assembly.)
But given the recent tightening of Government Religious policy and increasing tendency to compromise in several bishops (with understanding or even encouragement from the Holy See), there seems to be not even a minimum of possibility of such a revolution.
Gianni Valente talks about “trusting the bishops”. But here you are demanding heroism. Is that fair? In comparison it is much easier to get away and boycott the Assembly than to start a revolution in it. In the Assembly the “opportunists” will raise their voice to support the Government.
Then to judge by facts you need to have reliable information, can you get it? Are the media admitted into the Assembly?
Is not the Assembly itself taking place already a most evident signal that the Chinese Government is taking a hard position, showing no good will? They simply demand a total surrender. Can we nourish any hope in a good conclusion of the Sino-Vatican talks?
Am I an extreme pessimist? I would like to be proved as such by facts. I would be happy it all my pessimistic prophesies fail and get scorned by my foes. As every Catholic faithful I long for a future of unity and harmony for our Church in China, but a unity in the truth and a harmony in freedom. Our Lord Redeemer will surely grant it to us in His good time. In the meantime for this Christmas time we have better to pray more and give ourselves to fasting.
May the Rising Sun from the East bring us light and warmth!
May Mary and Joseph be our companions in this pilgrimage!
John the Baptist, you said “No” to Herod, pray for us!
Stephen, dying you saw the Heaven opened and the Lord in glory, pray for us!