The invaluable blog Where Peter Is offers another invaluable insight–this time into the Chinese Church. American Right Wing Lie Machine coverage has, with monomaniac disinterest in anything but bashing the Holy Father, insistently spoken as though Cardinal Zen is the one and only voice of the Chinese Church. Where Peter Is dares to suggest that there may be more voices than his.
With all the attention Cardinal Joseph Zen has been getting with regard to his protests against the China/Vatican deal, most American Catholics probably aren’t aware that Hong Kong has two retired cardinals. Taking a much different approach than his predecessor, Cardinal John Tong, has offered his support for the agreement, and has spoken of the hope that a unified Catholic Church in China represents. While the bishop of Hong Kong does not have jurisdiction over the Church in mainland China, bishops of Hong Kong generally have much to say about the situation of the Church in mainland China, and their voice deserves special attention given their proximity to the situation.
Cardinal Tong is currently the apostolic administrator of the diocese of Hong Kong, as his successor, Bishop Michael Yeung died of liver failure on January 3 of this year. (Yeung also supported a Vatican/China accord.)
Now Cardinal Tong has issued a pastoral letter, in which he speaks out strongly in support of Pope Francis and the role of the papacy, as well as the measures being taken in the Hong Kong Church to address the problem of sexual abuse.
The first part of the letter specifically addresses the resistance against Pope Francis, and how this is contrary to what the Church teaches about the papacy. Excerpts:
The pilgrim Church on earth is called to holiness, to be a Communion of Saints, but through human frailty she has regrettably from time to time become a Community of Sinners. Yet, in spite of her faults and weaknesses, the Church must not give up the mission entrusted to her; rather, she must repent and, relying on the unfailing help of God’s grace, continue her journey towards her heavenly goal.
It is no exaggeration to say that Pope Francis has gained recognition, not only as a humble and open-minded Church leader who zealously proclaims the message of God’s Mercy and Love, but also as a public person who has significantly contributed to world peace and interreligious dialogue. We note, however, that there are Church members who do harbour some sort of perplexity, distrust or even hostility towards Pope Francis, regarding him as not knowing what he is saying or doing, or as deviating from the teaching of the Church.
Let us first of all bear in mind that the Church must keep abreast of the times. While preserving the integrity of the “deposit of faith” and remaining faithful to the teaching of the Apostles and to Tradition, the Church is bound in every age to preach the perennial Gospel message and present the Catholic faith anew, in a manner intelligible and appealing to mankind. Secondly, the Church must continue to reform and purify herself, so that she may shine forth as the Bride of Christ. These goals are precisely what Pope Francis has been aiming at. It is our duty to give him our full support.
There are some Church members who seem to be willing to stand by the Pope only when he shares their ideas, but they speak against the Pope when he holds a different view. Certainly, the Pope speaks infallibly only under very special conditions with regard to Catholic faith and morals, still, we are bound to show Christian obedience to him when he, as Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church, teaches or guides the People of God under other circumstances. We, as Catholics, are also obliged to respect the officials of the Roman Curia who are chosen by the Pope himself to be his close collaborators in his mission as Supreme Pastor.