Cardinal Joseph Zen has accused the Vatican of betraying the underground Church in China by pursuing a deal with the government.
In an interview with LifeSiteNews, the Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong said he has written “many letters” to Pope Francis, pleading for him not to strike a deal with the Chinese government over bishops, but has not had any response.
The Catholic Church operates underground in China. Catholics are expected to join the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association – the government-controlled church in which bishops are installed by the Chinese government and not the Vatican – but many choose to worship secretly.
Bishops of the underground Church, loyal to the Vatican, often face imprisonment and persecution. Earlier this month, Cardinal John Tong Hon announced that the Vatican and Beijing are nearing a deal on the appointment of bishops.
He said that Beijing would recognise the Pope’s right to veto any of the bishops they had selected.
But Cardinal Zen told LifeSiteNews that a deal with Beijing is a betrayal of faithful Catholics who must live out their faith in secret and often suffer under the communist regime.
“They don’t have much public voice, the underground,” Zen explained. “People who come from China to see me, they all say, ‘please, you must raise your voice. We cannot say anything’ because they have no freedom to talk. So I keep talking, but it seems that they [the Holy See] don’t listen. They don’t like to listen.”
He added that the Vatican is heading towards a bad deal with Beijing.
“And I can understand that the Pope is really naive…He doesn’t know the Chinese communists. But unfortunately the people around him are not good at all. They have very wrong ideas. And I’m afraid that they may sell out our underground Church. That would be very sad,” the cardinal said.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal in November, Cardinal Zen called the possibility of a deal with Beijing “totally unacceptable” adding that “With fake bishops you are destroying the church.”