New regulations ask Catholics to elect their bishops demThe Chinese Communist Party has become the great promoter of the “Church Unity”, under its control. The Chinese leaders want to “what is rendered unto Caesar remain with Caesar, and what is God’s be rendered unto Caesar”. Third and last part of the essay “The unity of the Church in China after the Sino-Vatican agreement”.
by Duo Mu
Beijing (AsiaNews) – After the Sino-Vatican agreement, the Chinese Communist Party has become the great promoter of the “unification of the Church”. But this project is different from the unity of the Church according to the Gospel. In reality, the government is building a Church that is only catholic in appearance, because it does not guarantee true freedom to the pope and bishops. The Chinese authority wants that “what belongs to Caesar remains to Caesar, and that what belongs to God also belongs to Caesar”. These are some considerations of the Chinese layman Duo Mu, in an analysis of his study on “The unity of the Church in China after the Sino-Vatican agreement”. Here we publish the third and last part. Click here forpart Iandpart II.
4. Is the Sino-Vatican Agreement able to “unite” the Church in China?
“That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me”(John 17.21).
“I sense the urgent need, as my deep and compelling duty and as an expression of my paternal love, to confirm the faith of Chinese Catholics and favour their unity with the means proper to the Church. ” (Pope Benedict XVI, 2008, Letter to Chinese Catholics).
In this courageous journey towards unity, the transparency and the prudence of faith require us to avoid both false irenicism and indifference to the Church’s ordinances. Among all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities, the Catholic Church is conscious that she has preserved the ministry of the Successor of the Apostle Peter, the Bishop of Rome, whom God established as her “perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity” and whom the Spirit sustains in order that he may enable all the others to share in this essential good. (Cfr. Encyclical Letter of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, Ut unum sint, 79, 88).
The profound unity that characterizes every Catholic community in every part of the world must be founded on truth, which shines in the Gospel, and in charity, which is born of the heart of Christ. Unity is not the result of human policies or hidden and mysterious aims. Instead, it springs from a conversion of the heart and a sincere acceptance of the immutable principles established by Christ for his Church. Particularly important among these principles is the effective communion of all parts of the Church with its visible foundation: Peter, the Rock. Therefore, a Catholic who wishes to remain such and be recognized as such cannot reject the principle of communion with the Successor of Peter. (See Pope John Paul II, Message to the Chinese nation, Manila 1995).
With the signing of the Sino-Vatican Agreement, seven excommunicated bishops were accepted into communion with the Pope. This led to some confused statements, such as: “the government has recognized the primacy of the Pope”, “the Pope has recognized the Patriotic Association”, “the independent Church is no longer in conflict with the principles of the Church” etc.
Following the Sino-Vatican Agreement, the various United Front and Religious Affairs offices, in the name of the “Pope” and “unification”, began to promote “the unification of the Church”. The director of AsiaNews, Father Bernardo Cervellera, during his stay in China asked an official, what their greatest fear of the Catholic Church is. The official replied that the government’s greatest fear is Church unity. And now the government is promoting “the unification of the Church”, to the amazement of all involved. However, on closer consideration the government’s true intent reveals itself. By promoting the so-called “unification”, the government is instead spreading a false unification through many strategies, above all through the bishops and priests under the control of the “independent Church”, and destroying the underground Church with harsh administrative measures, asking the underground Church to enroll in the official Church and under the leadership of the bishops and priests who obey the government and are “politically reliable”.
To render the self-organized “Catholic Church in China” more and more Catholic and transform it definitively, Catholic scholars have also proposed “synicization” strategies to obfuscate the inculturation of the Church, and thus attempt to modify it starting from various aspects such as the Bible and theology, and theoretically break down the doctrine of Catholicism. Therefore, the “synicization of Catholicism” consists in the transformation of Catholicism into something that apparently resembles the Catholicism, but in reality it is a “Catholic Church in China” controlled by the government. The Chinese leaders want to “what is rendered unto Caesar remain with Caesar, and what is God’s be rendered unto Caesar”.
Some argue that the wounds among the faithful, the conflicting points of view and even the power struggles are the reasons why the Chinese Church finds unification so difficult, but this statement underestimates Chinese Catholics. The Catholic faith teaches us that the salvation of the soul and the attainment of paradise are the ultimate goals of every believer; Catholics will never compromise on the truth of faith, since personal conscience (given by God) does not change with the changing of the age and context, even if humanity is often inconsistent. The unification of the Church must remain in the hands of the Church, Chinese Catholics want “unification” not to be confused, blurred, distorted, and go against the truth. Nor should it weaken the leadership of the Pope in the Church and the primacy of Peter. They are the guarantee of the the truth in which we believe, they are directly connected with the salvation of our soul. This should not be confused and is therefore inviolable.
Right now it’s is not just the Chinese Church promoting unification, but also the government. But the unification desired by the Pope and the Church “is based on communion with the Successor of Peter”, it is a unification in Jesus Christ; the one desired by the government and the official Church consists instead of incorporating the Church into the structure of the “independent Church”, to finally have absolute control over the Church. We must recognize what “true unification” is, without letting ourselves be deceived by appearances, such as: “the government allows us to pray for the Pope during Mass”, “the government recognizes the Pope as the greatest leader of Catholicism”, “the Pope has the power to appoint bishops ”, etc.
As long as China does not guarantee true freedom of faith, the pope will not be able to freely manage the Church in China, and above all to freely appoint bishops, and all that is beautiful, created by the Chinese government, is therefore false, a deception. If the Chinese government and the Patriotic Association do not renounce policies on the “independent Church”, the Chinese Church will never know true unification.
If in the Church in China everyone avoids talking about “spiritual unification” while concentrating “on the unification of the system”, thus trying to overcome the problem of the “independent Church” and the Patriotic Association, then it is really an illusory reasoning, the result of which is clearly predictable. Every Catholic must remain on alert.
The Church in China must encourage and ask the Vatican delegates sent for the negotiations to be faithful servants of Christ, not to be afraid to proclaim the truth and not to falter on the principles of the Church during negotiations with the Chinese government.
The Church in China must avoid falling into the trap of “gray pragmatism”, but continue to bear witness to Jesus Christ with courage, “to become the social conscience, sprinkle the seed of the Gospel on this earth, become the prophet of this age, be salt and light in Chinese society “(words of the Father Wei Heping). Courageously safeguarding true communion with the Successor of Peter, fighting for the rights and freedom of the Church, protecting the representative of Jesus on earth – the primacy of the Pope, saying “no” to all the compromises that betray the Church.
Faced with the complex current situation, we must take as an example the behavior of the bishop-martyr Joseph Fan Xueyan: “face all the challenges with constancy”, “time belongs to Him”, do not fear to have to wait for another “three hundred years”, we must believe that the day will come when “Christ will win and reign”.
I conclude my essay with the recommendation that Pope John Paul II made in the 1986 meeting to Tang Han (John Tong) and to all the priests of the Church in China: “Do not deceive yourself about communism!”