Vatican’s relations with China still a problem

Hong Kong’s retired archbishop, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze Kiun, has contested recent suggestions from Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin that diplomatic relations between Rome and China may be on the horizon.

Claiming that he and others find it difficult to share Cardinal Parolin’s optimism, he said “We do not see any sign that would encourage the hope that the Chinese Communists are about to change their restrictive religious policy.”

Taking issue with interviews published by Agenzia Fidesin which Chinese bishops in communion with Rome seem to be supportive of a rapprochement between Beijing and the Holy See, the cardinal pointed out that “those who ever go to interview Church people in China must be aware that they are not free and cannot speak freely, otherwise something may happen”.

The cardinal pointed out how two other bishops, Yixian’s Cosma Shi Enxiang and Baoding’s Su Zhimin, have not been heard of since they were arrested by Chinese authorities, such that it is not even known whether they are alive – Bishop Enxiang, violently arrested 14 years ago, is widely believed to have died in captivity.

“When we see these two venerable bishops deprived of the most fundamental right of human dignity,” the cardinal wrote, “it is difficult for us to imagine that the representatives of the Holy See can sit down and talk to the Communist Party without chagrin.”