In an appeal he sent to the world’s 223 cardinals, Cardinal Joseph Zen, the retired Bishop of Hong Kong, warned that the Catholic Church in China is being “murdered” by the communist regime while the Vatican stands idly by.
“A totalitarian regime doesn’t compromise,” Zen said. “They want complete surrender.”
Cardinal Zen, in an appeal to the Vatican that was written in September but only released this month, detailed some of the Chinese regime’s crimes:
“Christian churches have been destroyed by authorities; Two million Christians and Buddhists are being kept in detention; Christian teachings have been reinterpreted according to socialist doctrine; Churches in Hunan province were forced to remove displays of the Ten Commandments and replace them with quotes of Xi Jinping; Churches in Jiangxi province were ordered to remove biblical paintings and crosses and replace them with portraits of the president; in some areas, all public displays of Christmas decorations have been banned; in December, Christians belonging to ‘house churches’ not recognized by the government were ordered to refrain from publicly celebrating Christmas.”
Chairman Xi has stated that all party Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members should be “firm Marxist atheists and never find any of their beliefs in any religion.”
Zen also noted that Xi’s regime uses cranes to take down crosses and other Christian symbols, which are then replaced with the Chinese flag and photos of Xi and Mao Zedong. Images of the Virgin Mary have also been replaced with pictures of “People’s Leader” Xi, while the Ten Commandments have been painted over with quotes from Xi.
The regime also has destroyed entire churches, Zen said. Many Catholic bishops have “disappeared.” Sermons given in regime-sanctioned churches will now most likely exclude passages of the Bible deemed politically subversive (such as the story of Daniel) or include communist propaganda. Last December, a Chinese court sentenced a priest to nine years in prison after he called the CCP “morally incompatible with the Christian faith.”
The fate of some bishops is not known. James Su Zhimin, who spent almost 24 years in Chinese prisons, is still being detained.
In a March 22 report for Gatestone Institute, Giulio Meotti noted that “Cardinal Zen was granted enormous discretion by former Pope Benedict XVI to speak out on issues involving the church in China. It was Pope Benedict XVI who nominated him as a cardinal; the Chinese regime called his elevation a hostile act. Under Pope Francis, Cardinal Zen has become a dissident. When the Vatican signed the agreement with China, Cardinal Zen flew to Rome to make a personal appeal to the Pope. He was ignored.”
How did the Vatican react to Cardinal Zen’s new appeal? “By criticizing him,” Meotti noted. The Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, attacked Cardinal Zen.
“The Church”, Cardinal Zen explained, “is under persecution [in China]. Both the official Church, and the underground. Actually, the underground is doomed to disappear. Why? Because even the Holy See is not helping. The older bishops are dying, there are less than 30 bishops left in the underground Church, and no new priests are being ordained.”
Cardinal Zen then pointed at Pope Francis:
“The pope doesn’t know much about China. And he may have some sympathy for the Communists, because in South America, the Communists are good guys, they suffer for social justice. But not the [Chinese] Communists. They are persecutors. So the situation is, humanly speaking, hopeless for the Catholic Church: Because we can always expect the Communists to persecute the Church, but now [faithful Catholics] don’t get any help from the Vatican. The Vatican is helping the government, surrendering, giving everything into their hands”.