Mr. Joseph Kung of the Cardinal Kung Foundation writes in the July newsletter:
One Year Later
It has been a year since Pope Benedict XVI made public a letter that he wrote to the Catholic Church in the Peoples’ Republic of China. While there are so many issues in the Pope’s letter that we could reflect upon together, I will only concentrate on the following few points:
Some Chinese bishops “not wishing to be subjected to undue control exercised over the life of the Church, and eager to maintain total fidelity to the Successor of Peter and to Catholic doctrine, have felt themselves constrained to opt for clandestine (underground) consecration.” However, they are not recognized by the Chinese Authority. Pope Benedict XVI hopes that “these legitimate Pastors may be recognized as such by governmental authorities”.
Fact: There have been no such pastors (underground bishops) recognized by the Chinese civil government one year after the Pope’s request.
“Other Pastors,” Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “however, under the pressure of particular circumstances, have consented to receive episcopal ordination without the pontifical mandate, but have subsequently asked to be received into communion with the Successor of Peter and with their other brothers in the episcopate. The Pope, considering the sincerity of their sentiments and the complexity of the situation…has granted them the full and legitimate exercise of Episcopal jurisdiction… Unfortunately, in most cases, priests and the faithful have not been adequately informed that their Bishop has been legitimized, and this has given rise to a number of grave problems of conscience. What is more, some legitimized Bishops have failed to provide any clear signs to prove that they have been legitimized. For this reason it is indispensable…that legitimation, once it has occurred, is brought into the public domain at the earliest opportunity, and that the legitimized Bishops provide unequivocal and increasing signs of full communion with the Successor of Peter.”
Fact: One year after Pope Benedict XVI’s request, not even one of these “legitimized Bishops” (or legitimized bishops belonging to the Official Church or the Patriotic Association) had the courage to come forward to provide “unequivocal and increasing signs of full communion with the Successor of Peter.”
3) In his letter, Pope Benedict XVI referred many times to the ongoing persecution of the Church by saying: “it must not be forgotten that many Bishops have undergone persecution and have been impeded in the exercise of their ministry, and some of them have made the Church fruitful with the shedding of their blood….” The Pope also insisted that there must be “authentic religious freedom” in China, meaning that all those bishops, priests, nuns, seminarians and other faithful currently in Chinese jail, labor camp, or house arrest for practicing their religion must be released.
Fact: One year after Pope Benedict XVI’s insistence of “authentic religious freedom” in China, persecutions of religious believers in China persist wildly.
Two underground priests, Fathers Zhang Jianlin and Zhangli, both from Xuanhua, Hebei, were arrested and detained because of their desire to participate in the day of prayer on May 24 in Sheshan. One was arrested on his way to Sheshan. The other one was arrested even before he started his journey. Both priests disappeared while they were in the hands of Chinese authorities.
In the meantime, every one of approximately 35 underground bishops, together with many priests and faithful, are either in prison, disappeared, under house arrest or under surveillance. Bishops Su Zhimin, Bishop of Baoding, and Shi Enxiang, Bishop of Yixian, were arrested in October, 1997 and April 2001, respectively. There has been no news on these two bishops since then. Both have now disappeared. We do not know if they are still alive. Bishop Han DinXiang, the Bishop of Yong Nian, was arrested in Dec 1999, and disappeared during the last two years of his imprisonment. He died suddenly in prison on Sept 9, 2007 in very mysterious and suspicious circumstances. He was not allowed a Catholic burial. Instead, by order of the government, the Bishop was cremated and buried within 6 hours of his death!
Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo, the unregistered or “underground” Roman Catholic Bishop of Zhengding, Heibei whose repeated arrests by the Chinese government have been reported by the Cardinal Kung Foundation and by various world news media many times, was last arrested on August 23, 2007, the 11th time since January 2004, and was finally released on December 14, 2007. However, Bishop Jia’s release did not bring about his “freedom” to carry out his duties as a bishop of a diocese. Bishop Jia is now under house arrest, confined to the living quarters of his cathedral, Christ the King Church in Wu Qiu. He is not allowed to receive any visitors except for a few rare occasions when the visits are supervised and accompanied by government officials.
Near the vicinity of the Christ the King Church, the public police bureau has set up an observation post in order to monitor the activities of and visitors to this church in WuQiu. The government has an organized unit of six officers patrolling the vicinity of the church 24 hours a day, forbidding any visitor to visit Bishop Jia, or to approach the vicinity of the church. Bishop Jia is seriously sick, and this causes a constant tremor of his right hand. The bishop requested medical service outside of his living quarters, but was denied by the authority. Bishop Jia, almost 74 years old, was consecrated a bishop as the bishop of Zhengding, Heibei on December 19, 1980, mandated by the Pope. He has spent 18 years in prison. Zhengding is a small village situated approximately 100 miles south of Beijing. It is a faithful Roman Catholic community with approximately 110,000 Catholics. Bishop Jia is also caring for approximately 100 abandoned handicapped orphans. This orphanage is greatly in need of financial help.
The plight of these bishops is just one example of many underground Roman Catholic bishops’ civil rights being seriously violated in China. The persecution of religious believers is very much alive in China and ongoing regardless of the fact that the Olympic games will be held in China less than two weeks away. Your continuous prayers for the persecuted Roman Catholic Church in China are desperately needed and appreciated.
The Cardinal Kung Foundation
PO Box 8086, Ridgeway Center
Stamford, CT 06905USA
Tel: (203) 329 – 9712 ( USA)
Fax: ( 203 ) 329- 8415 (USA )
E-Mail Address: JMKUNG@aol.com
Jesus Christ has not forgotten His church in China.