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Cardinal Zen: Vatican’s China policy is ‘terrible, terrible, terrible’

December 04, 2019

Cardinal Joseph Zen has described Vatican policy toward China as “terrible, terrible, terrible” in a new interview.

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Cardinal Zen said that he strongly suspects that a diplomatic agreement between the Holy See and the Chinese government, which has never been made public, is substantially the same as a previous draft accord with Pope Benedict XVI refused to sign.

The retired bishop of Hong Kong, who has warned frequently about the campaign by the Chinese government to exert control over the Church, told New Bloom that his own recent relations with the Vatican have been “simply disastrous.”

In an extended conversation (which was published on the feast of St. Francis Xavier), Cardinal Zen revealed that when he first became a bishop, he worked closely with Cardinal Jozef Tomko, who at that time was prefect of the Congregation for Evangelization, in efforts to ease tensions between the Church and the Beijing regime. He said that these efforts had borne fruit, with the Vatican regularizing the status of several bishops who had been appointed by the government but were ready to pledge loyalty to the Holy See.

However, Cardinal Zen continued, the Vatican’s involvement took a different path when Cardinal Tomko was succeeded by Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, whom he bluntly characterized as “no good.” Cardinal Sepe in turn was succeeded by Cardinal Ivan Dias, who (Cardinal Zen commented) was a disciple of the late Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, the Secretary of State from 1979 to 1990. Cardinal Casaroli was noted for his willingness to seek accommodations with Communist regimes.

Still more recently, Cardinal Zen said, Vatican policy toward China has been driven by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the current Secretary of State. The Chinese cardinal has frequently criticized Cardinal Parolin for failing to see the dangers in an agreement with Beijing.

Cardinal Zen revealed that he has not yet seen the text of the Vatican’s agreement with Beijing—despite his long involvement in the process, and his status as one of only two living Chinese members of the College of Cardinals.

As for his relations with Pope Francis, Cardinal Zen said that they are “personally wonderful relations.” However, he said, “he doesn’t answer my letters.” He also said that Pope Francis “has low respect for his predecessors. He is shutting down everything done by John Paul II and by Pope Benedict.”


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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: nix898049 - Dec. 05, 2019 5:59 PM ET USA

    Cardinal Zen is confusing or confused. The last time I saw him interviewed (after the Vatican made the deal -that he's never seen- with China) he seemed to go against everything he'd said about the Faith in China by encouraging the faithful to go along with the deal. I was astounded. Now here he is back to warning of the situation. He wants to be on PF's good side but at this price? Confusion aka Francis Effect.

  • Posted by: mclom - Dec. 05, 2019 3:48 AM ET USA

    The more I hear about China, the more disturbed I feel. I am a nobody. What good can my concern do? Am starting also to think that these years of Pope Francis are exposing profound, demonic wickedness such that I never in my wildest nightmares expected to hear about, a spite towards Catholicism in which this Pope himself appears to be revelling, taking every opportunity available to encourage false religions & praise our Faith’s enemies.Emma Bonini is one.

  • Posted by: a son of Mary - Dec. 04, 2019 9:27 PM ET USA

    Deeply saddened to hear Cardinal Zen being ignored. He knows the enemy first hand and yet his pleas fall upon deaf ears. Really does make me think there really are a bunch of commies in the Vatican. Let us pray for our Chinese brothers and sisters in China and in Hong Kong. May The Blessed Virgin Mary look after all Christians in China.