CHINA-VATICAN DIALOGUE – Counting on the Church’s spiritual strength

On 22 January, John Baptist Lin of Asianews reported that the previous month “Mgr Peter Zhuang Jianjian of Shantou (Guangdong) was forced to go to Beijing where ‘a foreign prelate’ from the Vatican asked him to leave his see to illicit bishop Joseph Huang Bingzhang. He had received the same request last October. Mgr Joseph Guo Xijin, ordinary bishop of Mindong, is expected to become the auxiliary or coadjutor of illicit Bishop Vincent Zhan Silu.”

Two days later, Pope Francis declared: “It is unacceptable that human beings should be persecuted and killed due to their religious membership! Every person has the right to profess his or her own religious creed freely and without constraint.”

O CLARIM contributor Aurelio Porfiri sought Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong for comment.

The Cardinal confirmed that in “November the news came that two legitimate bishops were asked to make room for two illegitimate people, one of whom was excommunicated. This is worrying us,” he said, “it will be a tragic thing for the Church in China. For so many years it was said to resist, to be faithful, now they say to surrender!” He then added that “it seems like a yielding of the weak with the strong … but the reality is that we in the Church have so much strength, that it is a spiritual strength.”

The Cardinal revealed that, despite his age and some ailments, he felt the need to travel to Rome with the exclusive purpose of speaking to Pope Francis. He said that “someone, crying, begged me to deliver letters to the Pope…. So I decided to attend the general audience on Wednesday and give him my letter in person. The Holy Father was so kind that he called me to have a conversation with him. From all this I have the impression that the Holy Father is not in favor of this complete surrender to these compromises without foundation. We hope the Holy Father will stop this wrong trend. Faith is our principle! We may have difficulty in accessing the sacraments, but we cannot renounce faith. We cannot speak in this case of evangelization – what evangelization is it when the Church is no longer what it must be?”

Three days later, Cardinal Zen posted a more detailed account in his Facebook page (, ending with an invitation to pray for the Holy Father: “The important thing for us now is to pray for the Holy Father, very fittingly by singing the traditional song ‘Oremus’:

Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Francisco, Dominus conservet eum et vivificet eum et beatum faciat eum in terra et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius.

(Adapted from: Aurelio Porfiri, “Se il Vaticano si arrende alla Cina, noi resisteremo”, first published on January 26, 2018 in La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana. Used with permission.)

Featured Image: Il Sole 24 Ore / AFP

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