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Cardinal Zen: China deal is ‘shameless surrender’

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, emeritus bishop of Hong Kong, prays before Pope Benedict XVI's final public appearance as pope in 2013 (CNS)

The rumoured deal between the Holy See and China is an “act of suicide” and a “shameless surrender”, Cardinal Joseph Zen has said.

In a recent blog post, the former Bishop of Hong Kong blamed papal advisors for the “bad deal”, accusing them of being “obsessed” with an “Ostpolitik” solution that “compromises without limits”.

The deal would likely involve the Vatican lifting the excommunications on seven Beijing-appointed bishops who were consecrated without papal approval. It would also likely give the Vatican a say over the appointment of future Chinese bishops, but still leave the final decision to Beijing.

Chinese Catholics are currently split between those in the government-backed Church and those in the ‘underground’ Church who remain loyal to Rome.

Cardinal Zen said that the Pope “has never had direct knowledge of the Chinese Communist Party and, moreover, is poorly informed by the people around him.”

He singled out Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin for criticism, comparing him to his predecessor Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, who was “obsessed with Ostpolitik” and pursued “a sort of political compromise.”

Those who are pursuing the deal with Beijing want “compromise without limits, they are already willing to completely surrender,” he added.

However, if Pope Francis does sign a deal, faithful Catholics in China will have to “accept it, without protest”, Cardinal Zen wrote.

“But before the eventual signing, it is our right to make the truth about things known, because this can change the direction and avoid serious dangers for the Church.”