Church in China

Church in China

Francis Vrijmoed

As a Catholic who over the years has attended Masses in Catholic churches of the so-called Patriotic (or Open) Church in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou and who, since 2001, goes to daily Mass in Shen Zhen (a border town next to Hong Kong), I am surprised, and annoyed, to observe that AD2000 still prints articles that give the impression that the Catholic Church is persecuted by the Chinese Government.

In particular the article headed 'Cardinal Joseph Zen: Conscience of China' by AD2000 publisher Peter Westmore (April 2008) is obviously an insult to the more than 70 orthodox Catholic bishops in mainland China as it is precisely Bishop Zen who, through his biased anti-Chinese government opinions, has blocked a reconciliation between the Catholic faithful in China, still divided between an 'Open' and an 'Underground' Church, notwithstanding the Holy Father's efforts to bring these two groups of loyal Catholics together as stated in his letter to the Catholic Church in China of 27 May 2007.

What these articles constantly omit is that the Vatican continues to refuse to recognise the Chinese Government in Beijing as being the legitimate government of China, as recognised by the UN, but instead recognises the government in Taipei/ Taiwan headed by a lapsed Catholic.

To add insult to injury, Bishop Zen, who as Bishop of Hong Kong, China, and as a Chinese citizen, is bound to obey the government in Hong Kong which means ultimately also to obey the government in Beijing, still mentions in his Hong Kong Catholic Church Directory 2009 the office of the Apostolic Nunciature in China in Taiwan, notwithstanding that the Chinese Catholics in Hong Kong, as Chinese citizens, are also bound to obey the legitimate Chinese Government in Beijing.

No surprise therefore that the Vatican cannot expect any co- operation from the Chinese Government as long as Rome refuses to recognise its legitimacy and Bishop Zen continues to be in charge of the diocese in Hong Kong, China.

Shen Zhen,
People's Republic of China

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