During his recent visit to Washington, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun told reporters that mistakes and misunderstandings on the part of key Vatican officials, and a desire for “compromise at any cost,” have undermined Pope Benedict's intentions for the Catholic Church in China, reports the Catholic News Agency.
“In the year 2007, the Holy Father issued a letter in which he gave a very clear direction. But those directions were not followed,” said Cardinal Zen (pictured), in a press conference on April 7 at Washington, DC's Hudson Institute. “There was even a wrong interpretation by some experts, like a certain Fr. (Jeroom) Heyndrickx, which misled many people.”
These experts, according to Cardinal Zen, encouraged all Chinese Catholics to seek government recognition as members of the “official” or “open” church, a step that would require them to join the government-run Catholic Patriotic Association.
“That wrong interpretation said that the Holy Father 'wants everybody to come into the open,'” the cardinal explained. “This is not true at all.” Although the Patriotic Association contains many bishops in communion with Rome, Pope Benedict warned “underground” bishops to be careful in approaching it.
“The Holy Father cautioned people in the underground,” Cardinal Zen pointed out. “Because when you want to come out, the letter says: in no few instances, indeed almost always, the government will impose conditions which are not acceptable to the Catholic conscience.”
The Pope's letter ultimately left the matter of government recognition up to individual bishops, while warning that the Catholic Patriotic Association's founding principles – especially its claim of independence from the Vatican – were “incompatible with Catholic doctrine.”
Now, Cardinal Zen believes that a rush for government recognition, combined with misguided Vatican policies, has emboldened authorities in Beijing, and even swayed many Chinese Catholics to the government's side.
FULL STORY Cardinal Zen: Vatican officials have blocked Pope's plan for Chinese church (CNA)