A February 11, 2003, press release issued by the Cardinal Kung Foundation was chilling. It bears reprinting in its entirety:
"Rev. Dong Yingmu, 37, an underground Roman Catholic priest serving the diocese of Baoding, Hebei, was kidnapped by the Chinese authority during Christmas 2002 when he was walking on his way to offer a Holy Mass. He was first detained in Qingyuan county detention house for about a month, and was subsequently sent to a prison in Quyang county.
"Two bishops and eight other priests belonging to the underground Catholic diocese of Baoding are now in various prisons and labor camps. Bishop SU Shimin, 70, Bishop of Baoding, was arrested on October 8, 1997. He has disappeared. His whereabouts are unknown. We are not even sure if he is alive or dead.
"Bishop AN Shuxin, 53, the auxiliary Bishop of Baoding, was arrested in March 1996. He has also disappeared. His whereabouts are also unknown. We are also not sure if he is alive or dead.
"Interned in Ba Li Zhuang labor camp in Baoding are Father MA Shunbao, 50, Father Wang Limao, 32, Father YIN Zhengjun 32, and Father Pang Yongxing, 30. All of them have been sentenced to three years in the labor camp.
"Interned in Gao Yang County labor camp are Father LU Genjun, 40, and Father LI Jianbo, 27. They have all been sentenced to three years in the labor camp. Father LI Jianbo is extremely sick.
"Detained in Xu Shui County detention house are Father Wang Zhenhe, 30, and Father Zhang Chunguang, 32. Father Wang Zhenhe has been detained for three years. Father Zhang Chunguang has been detained for two years. Neither has been sentenced.
"Joseph Kung, the president of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, said: "Having incarcerated two bishops and nine priests of the underground Catholic Diocese of Baoding, the Chinese government has caused great damage to this diocese, but it failed to break its spirit. Nevertheless, this example of persecution in Baoding does send shivers down the spine. Moreover, this is the plight of only one diocese. The public should be aware that most underground Catholic dioceses in Hebei as well as other dioceses elsewhere, such as Yu Jiang in Jiangxi, Fuzhou in Fujian and others, suffer similar attacks from the Chinese government. This awareness should enable the public to visualize how severe religious persecution in China actually is."
Yes, the press release from the Cardinal Kung Foundation should raise public awareness about how severe religious persecution in Red China actually is. Sadly, it won't however. Although Joseph Kung, the President of the Cardinal Kung Foundation is a tireless defender of the bishops and priests and laity of the true Catholic Church in Red China, his work is being ignored quite deliberately at the highest levels of the Church in Rome. It is not an exaggeration to state that the work of the Cardinal Kung Foundation is being undermined by Rome.
In a desperate effort to arrange a Papal visit to visit the "People’s Republic of China" it is evidently the case that many in the Vatican have adopted "one church" policy in Red China, which treats the truly schismatic church, the so-called Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, as virtually one and the same with the underground church that has been persecuted mercilessly by the Red Chinese authorities. The Vatican is treating some of the bishops and priest of the schismatic church, which was created by the Communist authorities to undermine the true Church, as though they are Catholics in good standing despite there being no formal, public act of reconciliation with Rome. Furthermore, Joseph Kung issued an open letter a few years ago asking the Holy See why seminarians associated with the Patriotic Association had been permitted to study in American seminaries before being ordained by their schismatic bishops. Joseph Kung, who is the nephew of the late Ignatius Gong Pin-mei Cardinal Kung, received no response from the Holy See. It is almost as though the Holy See was waiting for Cardinal Kung to die before embarking on its attempt to create de facto the appearance of a complete reconciliation between the Chinese Patriotic Association and the Vicar of Christ. All of the evidence of the Holy See's actions in the past three years since the Cardinal's death indicates that this is so.
To consider the rump church in Red China to be legitimate is to ignore a number of rather inconvenient facts. The schimsatic church in Red China about which the Holy See has been so obsequious lately supports all of the "population" policies of the Communist governnment. Thus, it supports contraception and sterlilization. It supports Red China's one child per family policy. Its bishops are appointed by the Communist authorities. In other words, the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association supports policies that are founded in a rejection of the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and natural law. It supports sin and sinful behavior as legitimate and just as a means of demonstrating fealty to the State and not to the Deposit of Faith entrusted by the God-Man, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to Holy Mother Church through the Apostles. How can this rump church be considered as one that is faithful to the Divine Redeemer? It is faithful to the exigencies and dictates of the Communist government.
It is not surprising that many American bishops cooperated with the education of the seminaries from the schismatic church in Red China The same bishops who decry the Society of Pope Saint Pius X as schismatic (although the Society dissents from not one whit of the Deposit Faith) see the rump church in Red China as something of a model for themselves. After all, many American bishops permit contraception to be promoted in a de facto manner in their parishes and schools and universities. They look the other way as whole articles of the Faith are put into question or denied entirely from the pulpit or in the classroom or in the pages of diocesan newspaper. No wonder that there is a kinship between bishops who become self-righteous when even the subject of the Traditional Latin Mass is broached in their presence (no less the name of the Society of Pope St. Pius X) and a rump church in Red China that puts into practice the very dissent from received teaching they permit to take place in their own dioceses.
The duplicity does not stop with the American bishops. The Holy See, which is relatively silent in response to the press releases issued by the Cardinal Kung Foundation, is making the Society of Pope Saint Pius X abandon its critique of the regime of novelty of the postconciliar era as a fundamental precondition of the regularization of its canonical status. The Society of Pope Saint Pius X does not dissent from anything contained in the Deposit of Faith. Nevertheless, it is being subjected to very stringent demands while no one in the Holy See says anything about the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association's absolute dissent from the immutable law of God. Simply amazing.
The suffering of the bishops and priests and the laity of the true Church in China will also go unnoticed by the government of the United States of America. Thirty-one years after the Shanghai Communique, signed by then President Richard Milhous Nixon and Red Chinese Prime Minister Chou en-Lai, Red China remains as brutally oppressive now as it was then. Trade has not "democratized" Red China. Trade will never "democratize" Red China. The oligarchs with bloody hands who rule Red China are not interested in an American style of democratic republic. They are interested in maximizing their own profit portfolios by means of their commercial ties with Western companies, which are permitted to sell Chinese made goods manufactured by slave labor at quite a remarkable mark-up. These oligarchs want retain to their grip on power, not relax it. And as there cannot be official toleration of any organization that offers an alternative to Communism, any church permitted to operate in China must be subordinate to its policies. None of this matters one little bit to American authorities, busily preparing for a war with a paper tiger, Iraq, while our really dangerous enemies, Red China and North Korea, have missiles armed with nuclear warheads aimed at us.
The bloodthirsty tyrants of Red China know this. They know that American policymakers (and, now, the Holy See) are steeped self-deception about them and their relentlessly brutal methods. The Red Chinese oligarchs know that the Holy See will not criticize them for fear of jeopardizing a Papal trip to their land of terror and bloodshed. They know that the Americans will not do so to avoid jeopardizing commercial ties. Thus, Catholics of the true Church in Red China can be arrested and beaten and tortured at will. Thus, the suffering of underground Catholics in Red China continues unabated.
One should not be surprised at the shortsightedness and greed of American policymakers. What does it matter to them that a handful of Catholic bishops and priests and lay people are make the blood sport of Red Chinese leaders? And I guess it should not surprise us that the Holy See, concerned about villifying people who simply want the freedom to celebrate the Mass of tradition without the stigma of being considered underground Catholics, should look the other way at an actual schism, the one that exists in Red China, while doing making it so very difficult to end a needless division of its own making with the Society of Pope Saint Pius X. The irony is inescapable: Catholics faithful to the Deposit of Faith are being persecuted by the Red Chinese and by Holy Mother Church herself.
Praying to Our Lady for the suffering Church in Red China, it is important to support the Cardinal Kung Foundation with our prayers and financial contributions. Even though the Holy See itself might be abandoning the cause for which the late Cardinal Kung was willing to be imprisoned, we must demonstrate our solidarity with the underground Catholics in Red China. After all, so many Catholics devoted to tradition are themselves forced to live in the underground, aren't they?
Cardinal Kung, pray for the Church in Red China. Pray for the entire Church Militant here on earth.
Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.