Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun (middle) presides over the Mass
Mainland priests spoke of their views of the China Church in the “post-congress” and “post-Chengde” era at a gathering in Hong Kong for the Day of Prayer for the Church in China.
More than 500 Catholics yesterday joined the evening event with prayers and a Mass for Our Lady, Help of Christians feast, hosted by the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of Hong Kong.
During the two-hour event, retired bishop Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun appealed for prayers for “pastors who are lost.” Tapes of mainland priests were broadcast.
Commission officer Or Yan-yan said the purpose of the broadcast was to have three priests sharing their first-hand experience to help local Catholics understand better the current situation of the China Church.
An “underground” priest said the Church was in a state of confusion after the illicit ordination in Chengde and the Eighth National Catholic Representatives Congress last year.
“The underground community has been silently enduring the Vatican’s compromised policy. They have made too many concessions. Even the message of the Vatican’s China Commission only repeated once more the Pope’s Letter in 2007 without clarifying our doubts,” he noted.
“We really do not know what to look for in the future. The ‘in-between’ community seems to be favored by the Vatican and the government. I don’t know how people think of this. But for me, our Church is about truth,” he said.
An “open” priest said he did not think anything would happen if the clergy insisted not going to the congress. “Do you think they will kill you or put you into jail?” he questioned.
“I think the Holy See has tolerated too much, again and again. It is no good for our Church,” he noted.
In his homily, Cardinal Zen reminded the congregation of the pope’s call in the May 18 general audience to pray for those who are “ensnared by the allure of opportunism.”
Or said she thought religious freedom had turned for the good since the papal letter but the Chengde ordination and the congress have proved that the government does not respect religion, which makes her feel helpless and perplexed.
However, from history and with the pope’s call, she believed “prayers can bring change and that is all everyone can do for now.”
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