Cardinal Zen Calls for Resignation of Vatican Secretary of State over China Deal

Vatican rebukes Hong Kong cardinal over China bishops
AFP/ALBERTO PIZZOLI
THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.

Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen has called for the resignation of Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, saying a deal he is brokering with the Chinese Communist party amounts to an “incredible betrayal” of the Catholic faith.

In an interview with Reuters, Zen described Cardinal Parolin as a secular bureaucrat who has little time for martyrs and saints.

“I don’t think he has faith. He is just a good diplomat in a very secular, mundane meaning,” Zen said. “He should resign.”

According to a Chinese state-run newspaper, the two parties are close to an agreement on the naming of bishops and the Vatican may send a delegation to China before the end of this month.

China’s Global Times newspaper, published by the ruling Communist party, said there were no “disputes on issues of principle” between the Church and Chinese leaders.

Zen has been a harsh critic of the ongoing negotiations and the Vatican’s apparent willingness to bow to demands of Chinese President Xi Jinping to keep significant control over the Church in China. For decades, faithful members of the underground Catholic Church in China have suffered persecution and even martyrdom in order to stay true to Rome, and now Rome seems prepared to betray them, the cardinal has stated.

“The consequences will be tragic and long lasting, not only for the church in China but for the whole church because it damages the credibility. Maybe that’s why they might keep the agreement secret,” Zen said.

Last January, the cardinal published an open letter to the media accusing the Vatican of “selling out” the Chinese Church by yielding to demands by the Communist leaders.

Zen was reacting in part to a move by the Vatican to remove two Chinese bishops faithful to Rome in order to make way for excommunicated bishops of the state-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association, which is subject to the Communist party.

“So, do I think that the Vatican is selling out the Catholic Church in China?” he asks. “Yes, definitely, if they go in the direction which is obvious from all what they are doing in recent years and months.”

In February of 2017, Cardinal Zen was already warning Pope Francis not to cut a deal with the Chinese government that would undermine the sacrifice and faithfulness of members of the underground Catholic Church in the country.

“We are very much worried because it seems that the Vatican is going to make a very bad agreement with China,” the cardinal said at the time.

Pope Francis “is really naïve” and “doesn’t know the Chinese communists,” he said.

Moreover, “the people around him are not good at all. They have very wrong ideas. And I’m afraid that they may sell out our underground Church,” Zen added.

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