Over at the fine Catholic World News (which you ought to subscribe to if you don’t already) there is a very good story on WDTPRS’s favorite Joseph Card. Zen of Hong Kong. Go read the article. However, here is an excerpt (emphasis mine):
Questioned about the three bishops who were ordained for the "official" Catholic Church in China earlier this month, without the consent of the Vatican, Cardinal Zen said that he did not think the government was reacting against Pope Benedict’s decision to make him a cardinal. Such a reaction, he said, would be "disproportionate."
The real purpose of defying the Vatican, the Chinese cardinal suggested, was the government’s desire to test the Catholic Church, and to impose its own authority. "Personally, I think it was a test of strength," he said.
Cardinal Zen explained that the government is worried by the loyalty that Chinese Catholics have toward the Holy See. He pointed out that "85% of the bishops of the ‘official’ Church have asked for and obtained recognition from Rome." Hoping to weaken those bonds, the government has installed its own favored clergymen as bishops in the illicit ceremonies earlier in May. The cardinal added that "unjust pressures" were placed on Catholics to participate in the ordination ceremonies and recognize the authority of the government-appointed bishops. Many Catholics, he said, "did not have a lot of choice."
Do you remember that just after the illicit consecrations a few weeks ago I posted here:
In reaction to the consecrations (and probably a lot more beside) Card. Zen said dialogue "cannot continue because people will think we are prepared to surrender".
"We cannot budge. When you brutally place such a fait accompli, how can you call this dialogue?"
I was having a conversation with someone the other day about China and made the point that the only way to deal realistically with situation of the Church is to approach it with strength, rather than simple accomodation. Pope Benedict has lately made strong statements about reciprocity. He seems to be moving quickly away from an attitude of appeasement, which perhaps characterized certain dimensions of the Holy See’s relations with nations and separated Churches.
All Hail the Great Zen, who is a perspicacious player in this intricate game of Catholic Chinese Chess.