Pope Francis has called on Chinese bishops to show respect and loyalty to the ruling Chinese Communist Party as faithful “members of the Chinese people.”
The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published an article Sunday in Italian, English, and Chinese, saying that the pope has invited “all the Bishops to renew their total adherence to Christ and to the Church.”
At the same time, “as members of the Chinese people, they are obliged to show respect and loyalty to the civil authorities.”
The article stated that this is how the bishops are to understand the words of Jesus: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt 22:21).
The state-run Chinese newspaper, Global Times, called the statement the pontiff’s “latest goodwill gesture toward Beijing.”
Pope Francis “has called on seven Chinese bishops, whose pastoral duties were made public on Sunday, to show ‘respect and loyalty to civil authorities’ while adhering to their faith,” the article stated.
“The announcement shows that the Vatican is calling on all the clergy and the faithful, including those who regard themselves as from the ‘underground churches,’ to be in solidarity and to support the bishops’ pastoral duties,” said Wang Meixiu, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, according to the Global Times.
The former bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen, told Breitbart News in an interview last week that Catholics in China are suffering “huge confusion” because of the recent deal between the Vatican and the Communist Party of China (CPC), which yielded some authority to the government over the naming of Catholic bishops.
“The provisional agreement between the Holy See and the Chinese government is a secret deal,” the cardinal said, “and no one knows exactly what it specified.”
“Government officials are trying to pressure all Catholics to join the Patriotic Association,” Zen said, “but this has not been mandated by the Vatican. There has been no merger between the Catholic Patriotic Association and the underground church.”
Still, he said, “the communists are taking advantage of the confusion to try to force Catholics to join.”
“We need to study our history,” the cardinal said. “Why are there two Catholic communities in the first place? There was a reason. The Catholic Patriotic Association teaches against Catholic doctrine and this has not changed.”
By Thomas D. Williams