martedì 30 gennaio 2018

Financial Times
One of Asia’s most senior Catholic leaders has accused the Vatican of “selling out” the Church by pursuing a rapprochement with Beijing while the Chinese government cracks down on religious freedom.
Cardinal Joseph Zen, the outspoken 86-year-old former bishop of Hong Kong, hand-delivered protests from two Chinese bishops to Pope Francis earlier this month after a Vatican delegation ordered them to make way for replacements picked by Beijing.
The issue of bishop appointments has been a stumbling block in talks between Beijing and the Vatican to try to establish diplomatic relations. The Vatican is one of 20 remaining states that maintain diplomatic ties with self-governing Taiwan, which Beijing insists is part of China.
“Do I think that the Vatican is selling out the Catholic Church in China? Yes, definitely, if they go in the direction which is obvious from all what they are doing in recent years and months,” Cardinal Zen wrote in a blog post.
The Vatican did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Chinese Catholics went underground during the bloody decades of Maoist rule and the Cultural Revolution, before religious practice was tolerated again in the early 1980s.
In many parts of China, the “underground” congregations and those led by bishops appointed by Beijing have been reconciled since a 2007 letter from Pope Benedict to Beijing, with bishop appointment agreed upon by the Vatican and Beijing’s “patriotic association”. In some areas the rift still persists.
There are 19 active “underground” bishops and 58 official bishops, not counting those who have retired, according to the Holy Spirit Study Center, which is part of the Catholic diocese of Hong Kong.
“There is the baggage, the legacy, of many years of the underground Church, of priests who recognised the party and those who did not,” said Francesco Sisci, an expert on China-Vatican relations based in Beijing. “It has not been solved but it is being solved. It is extremely important for the Church to move on.”
The protest from Cardinal Zen comes amid a general crackdown on religious practice in China outside the churches or mosques that are governed under the patriotic associations, which report to the Communist party’s United Front Work Department.
Crosses have been removed from many Protestant churches that were constructed without permission and “house churches” ordered to disband. The crackdown has included the foreign Catholic community in Beijing, which has lost one of the venues where Catholics previously met for English-language mass.
Additional reporting by Nicolle Liu in Hong Kong, Archie Zhang in Beijing and James Politi in Rome