Hong Kong Cardinal says China persecutes both official and underground churches

Speaking in London, outspoken Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen says that Beijing is afraid of anything not under its control and as a result persecutes both the officially recognised "Patriotic" Church and the unofficial "underground" Church.

Christian Today reports that London's Westminster Cathedral Hall was packed on Saturday as Cardinal Zen (pictured) expressed his anger over the constant supervision and intervention of the government which meant that the individual churches were not controlled by the bishops but rather by the selected lay persons who were used as "instruments of the government" within the congregations.

"That is a humiliation to our bishops," he said, before going on to refer to the earlier incident when bishops invited by the Pope to join the Synod were refused permission by the Chinese government.

"If they really understood how the Catholic Church is in the world, they would have no fear of the Catholic Church.

"The Communist Regime is afraid of any contact that is not under their control."

The Church in China is such a small minority so why should they be afraid," he said. In an earlier Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) press conference, Cardinal Zen stressed that the Church in China is "in no way a threat to the state".

The relationship between the Catholic Church in Hong Kong and the Chinese government was also "a very difficult one". "But compared to mainland China, we are really lucky," he conceded.

The Bishop of Hong Kong went on to mention the ordinations of two bishops nominated by the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association without Vatican approval earlier in the year.

If this was an attempt by the Chinese government to ensure the loyalty of the bishops only to itself, then it had "failed", Cardinal Zen insisted, stressing that the bishops involved "in their heart don't feel assured as they know it is wrong" and are now seeking forgiveness from the Holy See.

Cardinal Zen expressed hope, however, in the interest that has rekindled within the Chinese government in relations with the Holy See since the death of John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict.

He also spoke positively of the recent invitation from the Chinese Church for a delegation to come from the Holy See - the first such invitation in years.

"We have to trust the Divine Providence. So even after half a century we accept whatever happens because surely it is by Divine Providence."

Cardinal Zen was speaking at an event organised by Aid to the Church in Need.

Bishop of Hong Kong Tells of Persecuted Church in China at ACN Event (Christian Today, 2/10/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Cardinal Joseph Zen Zi-Kiun (Wikipedia)
Cardinal Zen (Catholic-Hierarchy)

Released Chinese bishop seeks reconciliation (CathNews, 13/9/06)
Chinese bishop released after 10 years in prison (CathNews, 28/8/06)
Holy See sends envoys to Beijing for secret talks (CathNews, 19/6/06)
China's first Catholic non-profit approved but arrests continue (CathNews, 4/8/06)
Pope declares diplomatic war with China (CathNews, 5/5/06)
Pope names four mainland Chinese bishops to October synod (CathNews, 9/9/05)
Rome condemns arrest of Chinese bishops/murder of Korean hostage (CathNews, 23/6/04)
Chinese bishop freed from detention after foreign visitors depart (CathNews, 17/3/04)

3 Oct 2006