Cardinal Joseph Zen, an 87-year-old native of Shanghai who served as bishop of Hong Kong, is a Chinese patriot and faithful Catholic.
He now finds himself at odds with both the atheist government that controls China and the Vatican bureaucracy that controls the foreign relations of the Holy See.
As of now, the atheist government in Beijing and the bureaucrats in the Vatican are acting as if they were allies, having signed a deal last September that neither the Vatican nor the communists have released to the public, and that will govern how Catholic bishops are appointed in China.
Cardinal Zen is speaking out against this deal and courageously explaining why it will hurt both the Chinese people and the Catholic Church.
The State Department’s most recent reports on human rights and religious freedom help put the deal in perspective.
Is China run by the Communist Party? Yes.
The State Department report on human rights in China published last April says, “The People’s Republic of China (PRC) … is an authoritarian state in which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is the paramount authority.”
Is the Communist Party atheist? Yes.
The State Department report on religious freedom in China published last May says, “CCP members and members of the armed forces are required to be atheists and are forbidden from engaging in religious practice.”
Does China’s atheist regime try to force Catholics to act in ways that are contrary to their faith? Yes.
Since the communists seized power in 1949, the Catholic Church has been divided in China. There has been an “underground” church, whose bishops have been appointed by the pope, and which does not bow to the government on matters of faith.
The Chinese government has imprisoned many bishops and priests of this underground church because they refused to deny their faith.
Then there has been an “officially recognized” church known as the Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA). The State Department said last May: “The CPA does not recognize the authority of the Holy See to appoint Catholic bishops. … The Regulation on the Election and Consecration of Bishops requires candidate bishops to publicly pledge support for the CCP.”
So, a man appointed as a bishop in…