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The Chinese regime is also applying its agreement with the Holy See this way. With the bulldozer that beneath police escort – see photo – razes to the ground on April four the creating of a parish in Qianyang, which had on its top rated floor a space for the Mass and on the ground floor a absolutely free clinic for the poor, run by nuns.

The fault of the pastor and of the two thousand faithful of this “clandestine” parish is the exact same as that of the diocese of which it is element, that of Fengxiang, in Shaanxi, the only diocese in all of China in which none of the baptized, from the bishop to the final of the faithful, has but agreed to enroll in the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, the principal instrument with which the regime subjects the Church to itself in the name of its “independence” from Rome that Benedict XVI defined as “irreconcilable” with Catholic doctrine, in the 2007 letter to Chinese Catholics nevertheless declared valid by his successor.

But it is not only the material destruction of this as of lots of other buildings of the Catholic Church. What is extra critical is the systematic suffocation of that significant portion of the Church which does not have official recognition from the Chinese government, but also does not want to submit to the blackmail of becoming admitted to legality only if it agrees to enroll in the Patriotic Association.

The case of the diocese of Mindong, in Fujan, is maybe the most instructive, if one particular desires to realize how the Beijing authorities are placing into practice the secret agreement signed final September 22 with the Holy See.

Curiously, precisely the diocese of Mindong is the one particular that a year ago had been indicated as the “stress test” for the great accomplishment of the agreement involving the Holy See and China, in an write-up by Gianni Valente, the professional on Vatican affairs most study and cited by Pope Francis.

But to judge by what is taking place there now, this diocese is as an alternative the “test” not of the agreement’s accomplishment, but of its failure.

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Easter is drawing close to, but the bishop who at present plays the function of auxiliary in the diocese of Mindong, Vincent Guo Xijin, is at critical threat of becoming blocked from celebrating each the Chrism Mass, on the morning of Holy Thursday, and the liturgies of the subsequent Triduum.

Final year as properly Guo was blocked from celebrating the Paschal rites. And the exact same in 2017, when just ahead of Holy Week he was arrested by the police, to reappear twenty days later.

More than the previous two years, the punishment had been imposed more than his refusal to celebrate the rites of Easter with each other with the excommunicated government-appointed bishop Vincent Zhan Silu, installed by the communist regime in his exact same diocese.

But then on September 22 2018 came the agreement involving the Holy See and China on the appointment of bishops, and Rome not only revoked Zhan’s excommunication, but it convinced Guo to give up the leadership of the diocese to him, accepting for himself the function of a straightforward auxiliary, in spite of the reality that in Mindong there is a significant disproportion involving the “clandestine” Church to which Guo nevertheless belongs, 80,000 faithful powerful, 57 priests, 200 nuns, 300 consecrated laity, hundreds of catechists, and the “official” Church of the formerly excommunicated Zhan, with a handful of thousand faithful and a dozen priests.

To set up in this way, completely to the benefit of the Chinese regime, the structure of the diocese of Mindong, there went from Rome to China, in December of 2017 and then once again in December of 2018, one particular of the Vatican diplomats most seasoned in the matter, Claudio Maria Celli.

The 1st time Guo resisted, but the second time he mentioned yes. To acquire his obedience, Celli told him that it was Pope Francis himself who was asking him for this “sacrifice for the unity of the Chinese Church.”

The reality is, nevertheless, that in the face of the step back by Rome, the Beijing authorities did not move a millimeter. The revocation of Zhan’s excommunication was not at all reciprocated with an official recognition of Guo on the element of the Chinese government. He continues not to be recognized as a bishop and to reside, as a outcome, in illegality, at the mercy of the regime, which at any moment can arrest him, confine him, block him from celebrating.

“Asia News,” the authoritative agency of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions that also publishes in Chinese, has revealed that in the previous handful of months the Chinese authorities have repeatedly set as a situation for Guo’s recognition his enrollment in the Patriotic Association, but he has usually refused.

And the exact same factor has occurred with dozens of “clandestine” priests of his diocese. None of them so far has agreed to sign a document in which it is demanded that they switch to the service of the new bishop Zhan, obey the laws of the state, enroll in the official organizations, assistance the principle of the Church’s “independence.”

In addition to becoming vice-president of the Patriotic Association and of the pseudo episcopal conference that assembles only the bishops recognized by the government, Zhan is also a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which held its final plenary session in Beijing in early March. Responding throughout these days to a journalist of “Sintao Daily” who asked him what he believed about the obligation laid on Catholics to enroll in the Patriotic Association in order to do away with the “clandestine” Church, Zhan mentioned that this is the only way to make it so that “the Church is united.”

In reality this is how there dangers becoming place into practice, in China, the hope of Pope Francis for a method of reconciliation involving “official” and “unofficial” Catholics. From Wenzhou, from Henan, from Hubei and from a lot of other areas there is news of continual stress in this path on “clandestine” bishops and priests, in some instances with gives of income. There appears to have fallen into the void the timid reserve expressed in an interview with “L’Osservatore Romano” on February three by cardinal prefect of “Propaganda fide” Fernando Filoni: “I hope I under no circumstances have to hear or study once again about nearby circumstances in which the agreement is exploited for the sake of forcing persons to do that which the Chinese law itself does not demand, like enrolling in the Patriotic Association.”

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The case of Mindong is not at all an isolated case. And not even the most critical. At the finish of March, in the diocese of Xuanhua, in the province of Hebei, the police arrested and took to an undisclosed place its bishop, Augustine Cui Tai. It was the umpteenth in a series of arrests that for years have punished this “unofficial” bishop, this time betrayed by one particular of his priests, named Zhang Li, who reported him to the authorities and accused him of not obeying the new norms of the Vatican, which according to him demand all the “clandestine” to return to the “official” Church and to submit to its circumstances.

But at the Vatican there is no sign at all of reaction to this terrible news on the post-agreement. In mid-March, just ahead of the official take a look at to Italy of Chinese president Xi Jinping, the Jesuit Antonio Spadaro, director of “La Civiltà Cattolica” and the lead adviser and ghostwriter of Pope Francis, published to terrific fanfare a book entitled “The Church in China. A future but to be written,” with an enthusiastic preface by cardinal secretary of state Pietro Parolin.

The Vatican authorities also created it identified in numerous methods, throughout these days, that the doors of the Apostolic Palace have been open, wide open, to a take a look at from the Chinese president to the pope.

But the take a look at didn’t come about. From Xi Jinping it seems that it was not even taken into consideration. One more slap for the Church of Rome, this one particular also taken in silence.

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In one more current interview, at a conference on February 28 at the Pontifical Gregorian University, cardinal secretary of state Pietro Parolin compared the agreement with China and the one particular signed a handful of years ago involving the Holy See and Vietnam, each of them secret.

“At occasions,” he mentioned, “the most delicate and significant matters have been settled in secret involving rulers or involving heads of state, primarily based exclusively on the spoken word.”

The one particular with Vietnam, he continued, can be named a “gentlemen’s agreement,” which means an “informal agreement involving two sides, the vital characteristic of which is that its realization is primarily based on honor, on great faith and on respect for the spoken word, and that it can’t be defended judicially. A concrete case is represented by Vietnam, exactly where episcopal appointments take location according to a process agreed verbally with the government.”

Whilst “a ‘sui generis’ case is the agreement on the appointment of bishops signed on September 22 2018 involving the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China: an international agreement involving two sides for which there is not but reciprocal formal recognition.”

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