Chinese faithful, official and underground communities, express their feelings about the present and the future of the Sino-Vatican provisional agreement. Many ask for the publication of the agreement document; others that bishops held in prison are freed and that the unofficial bishops are recognized by the government. The fear that China will belittle the Vatican. Fidelity to the Pope and to the unity of the Church, but concern for the rise in "collaborator" bishops.
Rome (AsiaNews) - There is hope and concern, sadness and uneasiness among Chinese Catholics at the news of the provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops signed between China and the Holy See. There are criticisms of illicit bishops who have been excommunicated because they "have lovers and children" and are "loyal collaborators of the regime against the Lord", together with requests to be able to see and know of the text of the agreement.
There are also those who present a whole series of questions regarding the agreement which needs answers, perhaps in the near future; those who remembers the imprisoned bishops and ask for their release. Msgr. Guo Xijin, bishop of Mindong, who should become an auxiliary of Msgr. Vincenzo Zhan Silu, barely re-admitted to Catholic communion (he was one of the excommunicated bishops), prefers to remain silent. Another, who should be replaced - or share the responsibility of the diocese - with one of the former excommunicated bishops - says he knows nothing of his future destiny. Some say that the interim agreement will bring even more confusion to the Church and China. The names of the people have been changed or omitted for security reasons.
We know nothing about the agreement, and therefore we cannot say anything. I see the positive comments of Card. Parolin, and the negative ones of Card. Zen. There is no trust in the Party, and we are worried about the Vatican’s scant knowledge regarding the Chinese Communist Party. The United States has understood it after 40 years of commercial experience.
Many faithful are disappointed, but as a pastor I must encourage the people of God to maintain authentic Catholic faith and communion with the Holy Father. There is nothing but to wait and face what will happen as a consequence of this agreement. Moreover, I do not know if tomorrow the Holy See will ask for my resignation. I very much agree with the article by Fr. Sergio Ticozzi. Thank you for your prophetic work.
Bishop Guo Xijin does not want to say anything.
A faithful of Mindong
I feel a little joyful but also a little worried. Joy because it is the beginning of something; concern because we do not know how much the government will really respect this agreement. Then, I also hope that these bishops who are no longer excommunicated will have at heart to regain the respect of their people. And I also hope that the government will soon free the imprisoned bishops and recognize the unofficial ones. Another hope is that the Holy See will soon appoint bishops for all the vacant dioceses.
There are optimists and pessimists among the faithful of Henan. The optimists are happy because finally there is an agreement; the pessimists are not happy because they see no benefit for the Chinese Church, since religious freedom has deteriorated more and more. It is up to us to obey with faith.
Most of my Catholic friends are sad and uneasy. I really do not know how to comfort them. After this agreement they see no hope or future. For them it is so sad because they feel betrayed.
I want to say immediately that in my opinion, the Vatican should make the agreement public to avoid manipulation and misunderstanding. In any case, after this agreement many questions remain and need answers: will the seven reconciled bishops be ordinary bishops of their dioceses or will they be auxiliaries, subject to other faithful bishops? And what fate will the unofficial bishops have, who are recognized by the Vatican, but not by the Chinese government? How will the Pope be the head of the Catholic Church, if many bishops still declare for an "independent" Church under the leadership of the Communist Party? And when will something be known of the bishops imprisoned or who disappeared police custody? Without forgetting the fate of the bishop of Shanghai, Msgr. Taddeo Ma Daqin. Without working on and answering these questions, the Vatican seriously risks losing its credibility among the faithful in China.
The worst thing about this agreement in my opinion, is the recognition of the seven excommunicated bishops. They were chosen by the atheist regime against the will of Peter's successor; some of them have lovers and children; some of them are loyal collaborators of the regime against the Lord. Since there are so many secret informers of the Party in the Church, we fear that some of these bishops are informers. I fear that this situation which is so real, concrete and sad is a prelude to the way bishops will be chosen in the future, even with the approval of the Pope.
I do not know much about this agreement, but it seems to me that it is the beginning of an avalanche of divisions, conflicts and problems. In any case, I am in favor because it is a first step. If we move only when everything is perfect, nothing will ever happen. I trust Pope Francis and his collaborators: the Holy Spirit will guide them.