Cardinal Joseph Zen, the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong and long-time China observer, said "the Holy See does not support" the faithful and long-suffering members of the underground Catholic Church in China and is actually helping the Communist Party to further persecute the faithful in that despotic regime.
The underground Catholic church has existed in Communist China since 1950. In 1957, the regime created the Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA), a Communist-run "church" designed to draw Catholics into its control and squeeze out those Catholics loyal to the Pope and the Faith. Despite the decades of persecution, the Holy See signed an agreement with the CPA in September, allowing the Communists to nominate bishops for the church there -- the Pope has a veto -- and force unity between the underground church and the CPA.
However, this is not working smoothly because the faithful bishops and laity are still being persecuted by Communist authorities and the clerics in the CPA are required to support practices that are contrary to fundamental church teaching, such as contraception, abortion, sterilization, and divorce.
Cardinal Zen flew to Rome on Oct. 29 and gave Pope Francis a seven-page letter outlining his concerns about the situation in China, reported the Union of Catholic Asian News (ucanews.com).
Government Communist thugs are forcing the underground priests and laity "to become open, to join the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, and to obtain a priest's certificate," said Cardinal Zen. They are citing the Sino-Vatican deal as the authority to enforce their measures but the entire document has not been revealed to the public.
"Some priests have escaped, and some have disappeared because they do not know what to do and are annoyed," said Cardinal Zen. "The agreement is undisclosed, and they do not know if what officials say is true or not."
Zen further said there is new persecution occuring and the Holy See "was helping the Chinese Communist Party suppress the underground community," reported ucanews.
In his letter to the Pope, Cardinal Zen detailed how Communist officials are taking money from the underground priests, harassing their family members, putting some of them in prison and apparently killing some Catholics to put pressure on the community as a whole.
Yet "the Holy See does not support them [the underground church] and regards them as trouble, referring to them causing trouble and not supporting unity," said Cardinal Zen. "This is what makes them most painful."
As previously reported, Chinese police kidnapped Bishop Shao Zhumin on Nov. 9 and sent him to a camp for interrogation and indoctrination. Bishop Shao is a leader in the underground church and has repeatedly refused to join the Communist-run CPA. He has been kidnapped by the police at least 5 times over the last two years and held for so-called indoctrination.
Since the Communist takeover in China in 1949-50, more than 65 million Chinese have been killed as a consequence of political terror and Marxist policies, which produced famines and other problems. Forced abortions and sterilizations still occur regularly in China.