Card. Zen on the “Provisional Agreement” with the PRC on Bishops

When I lived in Rome I had some contact with the Chinese Catholic ex-pat community.  Today, I can only imagine their heartbreak and fear.

The reaction of His Eminence Joseph Card. Zen is at LifeSite.

“It’s a complete surrender … I have no other words.”

The only consolation is that this is a “provisional” accord.

concerning the signing of a Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China on the appointment of Bishops

Today, 22nd September 2018, within the framework of the contacts between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China that have been underway for some time in order to discuss Church matters of common interest and to promote further understanding, a meeting was held in Beijing between Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, Undersecretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, and H.E. Mr. Wang Chao, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, respectively heads of the Vatican and Chinese delegations.

During that meeting, the two representatives signed a Provisional Agreement on the appointment of Bishops. The above-mentioned Provisional Agreement, which is the fruit of a gradual and reciprocal rapprochement, has been agreed following a long process of careful negotiation and foresees the possibility of periodic reviews of its application. It concerns the nomination of Bishops, a question of great importance for the life of the Church, and creates the conditions for greater collaboration at the bilateral level.

The shared hope is that this agreement may favour a fruitful and forward-looking process of institutional dialogue and may contribute positively to the life of the Catholic Church in China, to the common good of the Chinese people and to peace in the world.

Comment of Greg Burke, Director of the Holy See Press Office:

This is not the end of a process. It’s the beginning. This has been about dialogue, patient listening on both sides even when people come from very different standpoints. The objective of the accord is not political but pastoral, allowing the faithful to have bishops who are in communion with Rome but at the same time recognized by Chinese authorities”.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Sadly, the only question is whether it’s the result of mainland China blackmailing the Vatican, or of elements at the Vatican willingly cooperating with evil. Or both.

    Of all the times to revive Caesaropapism….

    The Good News is that Jesus Christ will be with the Chinese people and their real priests and bishops. They are a thousand times more holy than the men who are treating them as pawns.

    OTOH, it might explain where “Team Francis” gets more of its funding. A little Chinese money may go a long way.

  2. Fr. Reader says:

    “Heartbreak and fear” and “complete surrender” are expressions that only show partially the reality. For many, the agreement, even if it is a partial surrender, brings relief and hope. Many many priests will not have to live like rats hiding, celebrating the Holy Mass in very unsuitable places, because they do not have bishop, or is not recognized by the government.
    It might be “romantic” to talk about the martyrs of the catacombs, but not everybody was born to be martyr.
    May st. Cyprian, whose name we mention so often, intercede for the Church in China.

  3. Father Flores says:

    We pray for our brothers and sisters experiencing not only oppression but abandonment. It seems like the shepherd’s solution in China is to offer a few sheep in tribute.

  4. rayrondini says:

    At the very least, every Christian is reborn to be willing to be a martyr… it’s not “romance” to actually be willing to take up one’s cross, even to the fullest extent. I hear what you’re saying and I understand, but this kind of thinking just sounds a little too akin to the thinking which holds that the beatitudes are ideals which cannot be truly met and to expect people to strive for perfection is too much of a burden.

  5. Fr. Reader says:

    But if I can remove the difficulties of others so they do not have to be martyrs I would. Obviously not being an offense to God.
    I do not have in mind anything close to saying that the beatituded are an unattainable ideal. Perhaps I do not have other words to explain my perspective.
    @Father Flores. The other solution, to continue the dialogue until there’s a perfect situation also implies offering many sheep in tribute. I think many more.

  6. Akita says:

    From whence do these bishops come? Are there state manufactured catholic seminaries in China? Is there Apostolic succession?

    If these men chosen are apostate puppets of the state, how can there be a Catholic Church in China?

    OTOH could these state-chosen bishops be any more nefarious than the shepherds of many diocese in the Occident?

  7. Fr. Reader says:

    All priests and seminarians have to attend sessions of indoctrination.

  8. EC says:

    And to think, the Investiture Controversy with Gaul was being fought with at least somewhat committed Catholics. Now we are supposed to think it is a good idea to bend to an atheistic communist government already actively suppressing religious freedom? How unbelievably blind and shameful. Let’s see how it’s going 10 years from now… I’ve heard the Devil has been known to play tricks. Mark my words – if this is not reversed in the strongest terms soon, in the near future the government will persecute the faithful Church, using the authority of legitimate bishops. In other words, Rome itself will be the implicit instrument of Chinese persecution and martyrdom.

  9. Akita says:

    This dubious arrangement promulgated by Rome is touted for its aspiration, in the official communique, to bring “peace to the world”. Hmm. Something sounds fishy here, a little too fulsome.

    As long as Cardinal Zen suffers Christ’s words about “not bringing peace, but the sword” come to mind.

  10. Fr. Reader says:

    Let us pray.

  11. Akita says:

    Thank you for the clarification Fr Reader.

  12. Late for heaven says:

    First we ordain their bishops, next their cardinals and after that we have a Chinese communist Pope. What’s not to like?

  13. chantgirl says:

    So, will Catholic parents now be allowed to take their children to Mass and catechism classes?

    What good are puppet Bishops if the next generation of Catholics aren’t allowed to receive the sacraments?

    What did the Vatican actually get out of this deal?

  14. FrAnt says:

    I pray that nothing horrible ever happens to the faithful, but this is the “church of nice” at its best. Do the Pope and his men have any faith? Who has the upper hand Christ or the People’s Republic of China? If we think the infiltration of Free Masons and homosexuals into the sanctuary is diabolical, wait until we see what happens when Communists chose bishops how the power of Satan in the Church will be let loose upon the faithful. The “church of nice” is delusional to think that the persecution of Catholics will go away, instead, they have given it more power and it will increase. Nothing the Left does end well for the people.

  15. crjs1 says:

    Very well said Fr Reader

  16. Cranky Old Man says:

    Somewhere in the world beyond, Pope Paul VI and Cardinal Villot are looking for Cardinal Mindszenty to tell him, “See, we were not so bad.”

  17. Cranky Old Man says:

    Somewhere in the world beyond, Pope Paul VI and Cardinal Villot are looking for Cardinal Mindszenty to tell him, “See, we were not so bad.”

  18. Marion Ancilla Mariae II says:

    Imagine if the English King Henry VIII, having persuaded Parliament to pass the Act of Supremacy whereby the king should be “taken, accepted and reputed the only supreme head on Earth of the church of England” (1534) by all his subjects, had the then Pope Paul III, instead of excommunicating Henry as he actually did, negotiated an agreement with him, consenting to Henry’s requirement that the English bishops must submit to receiving their faculties from the King instead of from Rome and, and that all the bishops must affirm that the Crown – and not Roman Pontiff – was the source of their jurisdiction.

    The Henrician terms are, of course, go considerably further that those of the present Francis-Communist Chinese accord. However, having observed the Chinese Communist regime’s M.O. over many years, I have little doubt that terms like Henry’s have long since been very much intended by that regime, and attaining them has long since been their ultimate goal.

    The Chinese Communist regime needed simply to wait out the lifetimes of those Pontiffs who remained steadfastly loyal to the heroic Chinese Catholic loyalists to Rome; those pontiffs having died or resigned, the Communist regime’s endgame is much more within their sight. This agreement isn’t a game-ending touchdown, to be sure, . . . but a touchdown, the Regime!

  19. Dismas says:

    Even if my thoughts on this matter were totally and verifiably correct, I believe that it would be a sin for me to express them.

  20. Fr. Reader says:

    @what did the Vatican obtain?
    Among other things, not to obligue many catholics, priests and laypeople to keep their consciences in a perpetual and very difficult equilibrium.
    Many Catholics in China are quite happy about the agreement, both those in the “official” side and in the “underground” side.

    The division in China is not between heroic Catholic loyalists on one side and devilish traitors on the other side. It is much more complex than that, on both sides. In many aspects the part of the Church that is underground is a mess. In many cases, together with strong piety there is no authority at all, no doctrinal formation, and also strong division.

    I invite people here to read again the letter of Pope Benedict to the Catholics in China. I will do it too.

  21. Fr. Reader says:

    In spite of what I wrote above, I also share the fears expressed by many in their comments.

  22. MrsMacD says:

    @Fr. Reader I can not understand how you can defend something so obviously evil. We can not have the Communist government in China choose even one bishop. Their law is government first; a Catholic must always have God first. There are years and years of stories of persecutions, martyrs, betrayals in China. This is obviously another betrayal, and how many faithful Catholics will be exposed because of this? Lured out of hiding… or how many faithful Catholics will not know where to go because they will think the Communist government is lying or that the Communists can not be the head of the church, which they can’t. Pope Francis is pushing the Church in China out of the Church by this act. Communism has been officially condemned by the Church ( ) St. Joseph, protector of Holy Mother church, protect the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic church in China.

  23. Fr. Reader says:

    @MrsMacD. Thanks for the message.
    I hope it is not as bad as many people say.

  24. Marion Ancilla Mariae II says:

    On a sidenote: Fr. Reader characterized the underground Church in China thus: “In many cases, together with strong piety there is no authority at all, no doctrinal formation, and also strong division.”

    Quaeritur: Except for the “strong piety” how is that different from the Church here in the U.S. since the 1960s? (I am being perfectly serious.) And my evidence for “no authority at all” would be the McCarrick affair. And the lack of preaching from the pulpit about about the Four Last Things, and against the evils of abortion, contraception, divorce and remarriage, and homosexual acts. There is power here in the U.S., power wielded by bishops and pastors to shut down traditional and conservative priests and initiatives, and so on. But in many dioceses, no real authority, in the sense of the authority Jesus had when He spoke to the people. (“The people were amazed because He taught them as one having authority, and not like the Scribes.”*) While the Scribes had their own agenda and taught accordingly, “our Lord taught solely for the glory of God and our salvation.”** I’m sure many good priests would wish to preach more after the manner of the Lord, but they realize that some of their hearers will be offended upon hearing the Truths of the faith, wishing instead to have their ears tickled, and will complain to the bishop, and the bishop will reprimand the priest for being “divisive.” So, power is wielded, but the flock is not being led properly at all – hence, no real authority.
    * Matt. 7:28
    *Cornelius Lapide, quoted by Father Ryan Erlenbush in “4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Mk 1:21-28” on the blog of The New Theological Movement, Jan. 26, 2012.

  25. Fr. Reader says:

    @Marion AM.
    I am talking more about formal authority than moral authority, but that is a very good point.

  26. Marion Ancilla Mariae II says:

    My post of early this morning (2:20 AM) was false and unjust, for I painted our situation with too broad a brush. It’s not true that in the Church in the U.S. there is “no authority at all,” since there are in fact good and holy bishops who cleave true to the Magisterium of the Church developed according to the necessary hermeneutic of continuity. I live in a diocese that is one of the centers of the maelstrom, and I forget that there are faithful bishops out there. Please forgive that mistake in my earlier post. I will try to be more careful in the future. Thank you.

    I wonder if “Hermeneutic of Continuity Catholic” might be a good way to describe Catholics who don’t reject any of the Church’s authentic teachings, customs, and liturgical practices, that is, those that, when given all intellectual leeway reasonably possible to give, may be seen as consistent with the practices and teachings throughout the ages, but who treat as “the jury is still out” regarding those teachings, customs, and liturgical practices – no matter where originating – that would seem not to be so consistent, but rather, would conform more to Modernist error or to some other error. And toward those practices and teachings not according to the hermeneutic of continuity, those Catholics would patiently work for change, without allowing their own peace and their trust in Divine Providence to be disturbed.

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