Friday, February 13, 2009

Prepping the Fans in China

Because it looks like a major load is about to hit. Sandro over at Chiesa brings us the latest. Most of the article is a good lesson on what's gone before. Pope Benedict thinks the "Patriotic" church is a bad thing. The Vatican starts working for some kind of unity. The Chinese continue to persecute the faithful and their shepherds. It's a pretty regular story up to that point.

Then there's the stuff that I hadn't heard. Apparently, Cardinal Bertone sent a letter to the bishops in China that was a bit "timid" to use the words of the article. This has been accompanied by a growing sentiment that bishops there are becoming more and more submissive to the communists. Cardinal Zen, who is pretty freaking awesome for holding down the fort over there, has basically said that this crap is going to have to stop.

In an article published last 4 January in the diocesan weekly "Gong Jiaobao"" (later reprinted in English by the Sunday Examiner), the cardinal urged Chinese bishops and priests to follow the example of Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and always resist the government when it says or does something that is contrary to the faith. In his article "Inspiration from St. Stephen’s Martyrdom," Cardinal Zen analyzes developments in China’s Catholic Church over the last two years, noting the number of illicit ordinations in 2006, attended by a dozen bishops approved by the Vatican, who went out of fear or deception.

In other words, says Cardinal Zen, to hell with fear and deception.

In the article, Cardinal Zen says that some members of the Chinese Church are praising compromises and ambiguity. "Some people, talking to the brothers in the underground community, seem to be saying: ‘We are very smart to accept a compromise! We are in communion with the Holy Father and at the same time are recognised by the government. They give us money and we take care of our faithful. You instead prefer to go to prison; you would rather die. And then what of your faithful; abandoned, with no one taking care of them’. "

The cardinal continues: "So, martyrdom has become a stupid thing? That’s absurd; a short-sighted view! Reaching compromises might make sense as a short-term strategy but it cannot last forever. Being secretly united with the Holy Father and at the same time affiliated with a Church that declares itself autonomous from Rome is a contradiction."

Beautiful stuff really. And a strong reminder that martyrdom is not some fabled thing wrought by the ancient pagans on the Early Church. It's a present reality that many do not have to deal with and ignore the plight of those who do.

St. Stephen, pray for us and our brethren in China.

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