China – Chinese government intensifies persecution

 

By Marta Petrosillo, ACN Italy

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada
 © Aid to the Church in Need


© Aid to the Church in Need

Rome/Montreal, November 24, 2014 – “We shouldn’t get our hopes up. I don’t see any sign of an immediate improvement in China-Holy See relations,” cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, former Bishop of Hong Kong, told Aid to the Church in Need after speaking at the AsiaNews Symposium held on November 18 at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome.

The eighty-two-year old bishop believes that, “as every relationship, it depends on both ends” and it is not possible to expect any improvement until the Chinese government makes a real change of its policy. “The Holy Father is conscious of the situation,” stressed the cardinal, “he is patient and ready to work hard to improve the relationship and the situation of the Chinese Church, but he is also aware that the path can be long.”

© Aid to the Church in Need

© Aid to the Church in Need

“Not the time for the Pope to visit China”

Speaking about the situation of the Catholics in China, Cardinal Zen criticized the government. “The Chinese government has intensified the persecution recently. We have seen demolished churches, crosses taken away from the buildings, therefore there’s not much we can hope for immediately. The Church is still enslaved to the government.”

Cardinal Zen also believes that this is not the time for the Pope to visit China. “If asked about it, I’ll strongly recommend him not to go, because the current circumstances are not the right ones.” According to the cardinal, the Chinese government doesn’t seem to be making any efforts to improve the situation of the Church, nor its relationship with the Vatican, and a Papal trip will probably be manipulated by Beijing. “They won’t let the Pope meet the people he would like to meet and they will try to force Francis to meet the people they want him to meet. The only outcome of such a visit will be good people suffering and the Pope’s good will being misused.”

 © Aid to the Church in Need


© Aid to the Church in Need

“The one who fights with a ‘sling’”

The cardinal also talked to ACN about the current situation in Hong Kong, where protests against China’s new plan for Hong Kong’s 2017 are ongoing. Protests started as authorities tried to mar next elections by restricting the list of “acceptable” candidates. Cardinal Zen strongly supported the so called Occupy Central protests, and he even marched himself on the streets among the students who started the peaceful occupation of the city’s financial district. “We cannot expect to win immediately,” he told ACN, “but as long as we have freedom of speech, we should keep fighting, even though victory is not close». Cardinal Zen also criticized the students’ leaders who “went too fast” and who believed they can easily win. “We should stay united as we were at the start of the protest, but the students’ leaders began to run on their own without listening to us.”

Speaking at the AsiaNews Symposium, the cardinal said that when Pope Francis greeted him after Paul VI’s Beatification Mass, he told him: “This is the one who fights with a ‘sling’,” referring to his participation in the protests. “He didn’t mean to make fun of me, but to encourage me. When he was in Buenos Aires, he always fought for freedom and for the poor. So he understands our position.” Then Cardinal Zen highlighted the strong support of Hong Kong’s Church to the people. “The Church, thanks to a competent Commission for Justice and Peace, is backing the population in their fight for democracy, following to the letter the Church’s social teaching.”

Then he ended his speech by saying in an ironical way: “When I’m back in Hong Kong, I might hand myself over to the police for having committed an act of civil disobedience. Hopefully they’ll jail me for a few days, so I’ll have time to pray for all of you.”

© Aid to the Church in Need

© Aid to the Church in Need

 

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About amandacomacn

Communications Assistant and Community Manager - Aid to the Church in Need (Canada)

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