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China observers disagree on dialogue

Rome 'should enter into close and personal contact' with the bishops in China

China observers disagree on dialogue
Bishop Joseph Guo Jincai of Chengde and other bishops at the illicit ordination on November 20, 2010 reporter, Hong Kong

April 1, 2011

Two veteran China Church observers have disagreed with each other on how dialogue should go on following the illicit ordination in Chengde last November and the National Catholic Representatives Congress in December. Both events were condemned by the Vatican. Belgian Father Jeroom Heyndrickx thinks that the long-time policy of dialogue should not be blocked as it was a “historical and generous gesture” promoted by Pope Paul VI since 1970. He appealed to Rome that it should enter into close and personal contact with the bishops in China to understand their interpretation of the post-Chengde situation because misunderstandings have often arisen due to insufficient information. The mainland Chinese bishops are enthused about the chance of growth of the Church in China and ready to respond to the many opportunities for evangelization in China, said Father Heyndrickx, director of the Ferdinand Verbiest Institute at the Leuven Catholic University in Belgium. Rome should try to understand the mainland bishops “before answering the questions on whether somebody should be punished, who should be punished and how,” as many indications showed that this level of dialogue inside the Church has not been achieved. Though agreeing that dialogue and compromise are necessary, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, retired bishop of Hong Kong, however sees that “it is time to stop” as the Vatican has “reached the bottom of compromise.” The faithful in China are waiting for clarification on how the Church should be after those events but in vain, he said. “We cannot renounce the principles of our faith and our basic ecclesiastical discipline, just to please the Beijing government, the cardinal said. CH13835.1647

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