The Vatican has been accused of being unfaithful by a senior Catholic cardinal in its pursuit of harmonizing with China. In his continued criticism of the Vatican-China deal, the cardinal said that the followers would be in danger of ending up in a bird cage controlled by the Communist Party.
In a news conference in Hong Kong, Joseph Zen, the cardinal, asserted that he had reservations about a deal that would reportedly allow Pope Francis to have the final say in the appointment of bishops appointed by the government.
The deal has been put into place after nearly 70 years of dispute between China and the Vatican as to who has the authority to appoint Chinese bishops and is scheduled to be finalized in a few months.
According to the reputable 86-year old cardinal, who’s a former bishop of Hong Kong, he had been informed by sources on the inside that Pope Francis could veto the choices of bishops made by the Chinese government, and in striking a deal as this one, the Chinese faithful had been sold-out.
He claimed that the Chinese government would not make good choices for the Church and that the power to veto those choice was “fake”. He said that the Pope could only veto a limited number of times, as it wouldn’t make sense to do so repeatedly and that the government no doubt would select those that were loyal to them and not the Vatican.
The Chinese Catholics have always had divided opinion on the matter as the Catholic Patriotic Association, controlled by the state, have bishops appointed by the government and those loyal to the pope are persecuted for maintaining an “underground” Church.
Zen previously blamed the Vatican for pushing two bishops who had belonged to the “underground” Church to make way for government-appointed ones. In response, the Vatican had criticized Zen and accused him of creating controversy and confusion last Wednesday.
Zen also remains skeptical of the proposed selection procedure for bishops in China and stated that the choice ultimately will be that of the government. The candidates for bishops, before being selected and approved by the pope, will be elected by a democratic procedure by the Chinese Catholic community and then have a state-controlled bishops’ conference endorse them.
He added that this would mean the church, in reality, would be controlled by the government and thus it could not be called a “real Catholic Church”. He did add that he was not blaming or criticizing the pope, but his criticism was aimed at the Holy See bureaucrats who are very keen to reach an agreement with the officials.
The news conference came to an end as Zen, before concluding, said that the Chinese people deserved better and what the Vatican negotiators insisted on doing was unfaithful. He said that he wasn’t making a judgment on their conscience but that, in fact, he felt that it was a surrender to the government demands and they had no right to do so to and just cave in.