Vatican concedes too much to Beijing, ex-Hong Kong bishop Cardinal Zen says

Published (HKT): 2020.10.21 20:29

The Vatican has been making too many concessions to China’s Communist Party in recent years in the hope of establishing formal ties with Beijing, retired Hong Kong bishop Cardinal Joseph Zen says.

The concessions included the Vatican’s consecration of seven Beijing-loyal pastors who had done many “terrible” things over the past seven years, Zen told the Cantonese channel of Voice of America on Wednesday. Two of the pastors were married with children, an act not permitted by the Catholic church, he said.

The outspoken cardinal’s remarks came ahead of the expiry of an agreement between the Holy See and Beijing on Thursday. The historic deal was signed in 2018 and allowed the Pope to appoint and veto bishops approved by the Communist Party. It is expected to be renewed by both sides.

Zen said the pact had no real use, being only a means by the Vatican to push for establishing formal diplomatic ties with China. The Holy See had not appointed any Beijing-approved bishops under the agreement, he said. Two bishops had been consecrated in the past two years, but the decisions were made before the pact was signed, Zen said.

He expressed concern that Pope Francis could have received wrong information that led to misjudgements about China. He said Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin was keen to push for formal ties with Beijing. “Parolin absolutely should stop trading with China,” Zen said.

Over the past two decades, underground churches in mainland China had been losing support from the Vatican as the Roman church leaned toward churches approved by the Communist Party, said Zen. “The outlook for the underground churches is miserable. When the old bishops die, no one will succeed them.”

The former Hong Kong bishop visited the Vatican last month seeking to meet the Pope to discuss a leadership vacuum in Hong Kong. He failed to see Francis after waiting for three days.

In Hong Kong, the position of bishop has been left vacant for more than a year after the death of Bishop Michael Yeung.

Zen said the Vatican was ready to appoint a Beijing-loyal bishop, Peter Choy, to head the Hong Kong diocese, but was holding back its announcement at the moment due to opposition raised in Hong Kong.

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