DAILY CATHOLIC THURSDAY September 9, 1999 vol. 10, no. 171
NEWS & VIEWS
CONCERN FOR FUTURE OF CHINESE CATHOLICS
Coadjutor Bishop of Hong Kong Speaks About Refused Papal Visit
ROME, SEP 7 (ZENIT).- The rejection of a papal visit to Hong Kong by Chinese authorities is only the tip of the iceberg of bad feelings and worries for the future of Catholics in China. Last August 9, the Beijing government officially refused the request, stating that the trip would "not be convenient, because the Holy See has relations with Taiwan and not with China."
Many experts on China have stated that the government is actually afraid of the Pope's influence and of the Catholic Church, especially in relation to its defense of the family. If the Catholic Church were to organize a vocal opposition to the one-child policy, it could easily lead to generalized revolution in China, since the policy is accepted only grudgingly.
In an interview in the Italian magazine "Jesus," Coadjutor Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun of Hong Kong stated, "We wanted the visit, but we had very little hope, even though Beijing itself would have obtained a great improvement in its image, also giving the impression that nothing had changed in Hong Kong since its passage to China."
When asked what had actually changed, Bishop Zen answered, "Many are apocalyptic. Trying to remain balanced, I say that with respect to the English period, things are going backwards. This is dangerous and creates a sense of frustration. Hong Kong deserves more democracy. The formula is, 'One country, two systems,' but you have to look at whether they are insisting more on the unity of the country or on the respect for the two systems. We have to remain alert. Now it is somewhat dangerous for me to speak, because they have a great fear of dissidence; nonetheless, I maintain that it is a service to the truth to say what is happening."
Freedom of action has been limited somewhat in Hong Kong already. Bishop Zen Ze-Kiun stressed that "Before I went to China six months a year to teach in the seminary. Now I am a Bishop and don't teach, and I find it difficult to travel at all."
Chinese seminarians also have difficulty getting permission to study in Hong Kong. "They give them permission to go anywhere in the world, but not with us, where they would have advantages due to the language. But at one time, Hong Kong was labeled the 'base of subversion,' so..."
As to the situation of Catholics, the Bishop explained, "Catholics still go
to Mass; from this point of view, nothing has changed. But I want to
clarify something about China, because many maintain that there is a net
difference between the so-called two churches. In reality, this is a
division created not by the Catholics, but by the government. Even the
so-called Patriotic Church is made up of Catholics, and it is a public
secret that the Holy Father has 'secretly' recognized a large number of
Bishops of that Church."
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NEWS & VIEWS