Cardinal Joseph Zen, who has defended the real, underground Catholic Church in Communist China for decades, said Pope Francis's plan to unify the real church with the government-run church -- the Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA) -- for diplomatic reasons, would result in "putting wolves" before "the flock" and would lead to a "massacre" of the faithful Catholics.
The remarks of Cardinal Zen, 86, were reported in the Wall Street Journal on Feb. 14.
In Communist China there are two Catholic churches: the real one, which went underground after the Marxist dictator Mao Zedong seized contol in 1949-50, and the government-run CPA, established in 1957 to lure the faithful away from the true church. As part of its plan, the CPA seized all the property of the Roman Catholic Church in China. It also appointed its own bishops, in violation of Church teaching. The CPA bishops do not profess loyalty to the Pope and the Magesterium, which means they are schismatic.
Further, neither the CPA bishops nor priests adhere to Catholic teaching on topics such as life, abortion, contraception, and euthanasia. As a result, they preach heresy. They are not Catholic. The Cardinal Kung Foundation states, "The Patriotic Association, although calling itself Catholic, is not Catholic because it is not in communion with the Pope, the successor of Peter."
"None of the Vicars of Christ [Popes] for the last 60 years has ever recognized the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association as a part of the Roman Catholic Universal Church," said the Foundation.
Nonetheless, Pope Francis wants to unify the underground church with the Communist-controlled CPA. As part of the deal, China is demanding that the Vatican accept, for now, seven of its CPA bishops. It has also demanded that two real bishops -- validly ordained and in union with Rome -- resign to make way for two CPA replacements.
"They are appointing bad people to be shepherds of the flocks," Cardinal Zen told The Journal. "How can you do that?"
"You're putting wolves before your flock, and they are going to make a massacre," he said.
Cardinal Zen stressed that the Communist regime has never changed its policy and this policy is one of "total control of religion."
In a statement on Feb. 14, Cardinal Zen said "the Communists want to enslave the Church" in China. Ceding authority to the CPA will lead to further persecution, he said, and is the equivalent of "rewarding traitors" and "castigating the faithful."
For faithful Catholics, said the cardinal, "Our suffering at the creaton of a schismatic church by others [in Rome] may be inevitabe, but we cannot assist in its creation."