Card. Zen – legit hero – made a statement about the passing of Pope Benedict XVI.
I cheated and used a machine translation because I didn’t want to fight with both Chinese and Italian at 0300.
AT THIS MOMENT WHEN POPE BENEDICT LEFT US FOR HEAVEN
Pope Benedict XVI has finally finished his humble service as a “worker in the Lord’s vineyard”. It was a multifaceted service: who will underline that he was a great theologian, who will continue to call him God’s rottweiler, for me he was the great defender of the truth. It is true that his first encyclical was “Deus caritas est”, but later this was followed by “Caritas in veritate”. He defended the truth against the dictatorship of relativism. He wasn’t afraid to appear retrograde in the face of so many who exalt a pluralism to the bitter end, an indiscriminate inclusiveness. He said that love without a foundation in truth becomes a shell that can contain anything.
Someone said that Pope Benedict, after his resignation, should have kept quiet and not created confusion in the Church. It seems to me quite the opposite: precisely because there is confusion in the Church, a Pope Emeritus, like every bishop and cardinal as long as they have breath and are clear of mind, must fulfill his duty as Successor of the Apostles to defend the sound tradition of Church. Since when does the word “conservative” mean a sin? Unfortunately fidelity to Tradition can be taken as “rigidity” or “backwardness”. In crucial moments, even Pope Francis has accepted this contribution of his predecessor, as when he defended the priestly celibacy of the Roman Church in the controversy over the proposal to ordain “viri probati”.
As a member of the Chinese Church, I am immensely grateful to Pope Benedict for things he has not done for other Churches. First of all, a Letter (June 29, 2007) which was a masterpiece of balance between the lucidity of Catholic ecclesiological doctrine and humble understanding of civil authority. Catholic ecclesiology which is not personal to him, but expounded by him with unsurpassed clarity and concreteness. Unfortunately, a rather worn letter: errors (more likely also manipulations) in the Chinese translation and tendentious quotations against the obvious meaning of the Letter.
Another extraordinary thing he has done for the Church in China is the establishment of a powerful Commission to take care of the affairs of the Church in China; unfortunately under the new President of this Commission it was secretly made to disappear without even a word of respectful farewell.
Pope Benedict was often misunderstood and sometimes not followed; but it is precisely in these cases, which seem to be failures, that I was able to admire the person’s great fortitude and magnanimity in the face of setbacks (I saw Cardinal Meissner cry during those days when the German episcopate severely criticized the German Pope). In the Angelus of December 26, 2006, Pope Benedict exhorted the faithful in China to persevere in the faith, even if in the present moment everything seems to be a failure.
Despite his great effort, Pope Benedict had failed to improve the situation of the Church in China. He could not accept any compromise. I am still convinced that every effort to improve the situation of the Church in China will have to be done along the lines of the 2007 Letter. (I noted that even the great executor of the Church’s Ostpolitik, Cardinal Casaroli, did not believe he could always succeed with diplomacy).
As we remember the great Pontiff, let us remember that we now have him as a powerful intercessor in Heaven. With his intercession, let us pray that everyone, the Church in Rome, the Church in China and the Chinese authorities will be moved by God’s grace to bring about true peace for the Church and for our country.