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Cardinal Parolin defends Vatican’s strategy in China

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin (CNS)

The Vatican’s negotiating strategy in China is in line with the Tradition of the Church, Cardinal Pietro Parolin has said.

The Vatican Secretary of State told La Stampa that although there may be differences of opinion on how to deal with China’s Communist government, “no personal point of view can be considered as an exclusive interpreter of what is good for Chinese Catholics.”

His words come just days after Cardinal Joseph Zen, former Bishop of Hong Kong, criticised a Vatican delegation for asking two bishops belonging to the underground Church to stand aside in favour of two government-backed bishops.

Cardinal Parolin said: “If someone is asked to make a sacrifice, small or great, it must be clear to everyone that this is not the price of a political exchange, but falls within the evangelical perspective of a greater good, the good of the Church of Christ.”

“The hope is that, when God wills it, we won’t have to speak of ‘legitimate’ and ‘illegitimate’ bishops, ‘clandestine’ and ‘official’ bishops in the church in China, but about meeting among brothers and sisters, learning the language of collaboration and communion again.”

Cardinal Zen also claimed that Pope Francis told him in a private audience that he did not want “another Mindszenty case”, referring to Hungarian Cardinal Joszef Mindszenty who was asked to step aside for an archbishop favoured by the country’s Communist regime.

On Tuesday, the Vatican issued a statement denying any rift between Pope Francis and Vatican officials in China.

Cardinal Parolin reiterated this point.

“The Holy Father personally follows current contacts with the authorities of the People’s Republic of China. All his collaborators act in concert with him. No one takes private initiatives. Frankly, any other kind of reasoning seems to me to be out of place,” the Cardinal said.