Schismatic CPA "bishops" enjoy superficial freedom due to their promotion of abortion and rejection of the Supreme Pontiff
The CPA and the underground Catholic Church
With the Pope's recent message to China, many American Catholics were surprised to learn that the Chinese Catholic Church was in need of "reconciliation" with the Vatican. While travelling through China they may have attended seemingly Catholic Masses. They may have even seen Chinese priests invited into their parishes and seminaries or so they thought. The recent papal pronouncement introduced many to the politics of Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA), but the reality of the situation is far worse than it is made to appear.
In the 1950's, the Chinese Communist Party declared Roman Catholicism "illegal" and drove the Church underground. Bishops, priests and laymen were imprisoned, tortured and murdered. Cathedrals, churches and other property were confiscated along with valuable art and relics. The horrible fate of the Ukrainian Catholics at the hands of the Russian communists was repeated in China. As was the case with the state-controlled Russian Orthodox "Church", Chinese Catholics had to accept the CPA or face the consequences. But, as in the Ukraine, millions of Catholics remained faithful in the underground Church through decades of extreme persecution.
Persecution of Catholics
For his fidelity to the Catholic Church in the face of communist oppression, the recently-departed Cardinal Ignatius Kung was forced to spend 30 years of his life in prison, much of that time in solitary confinement:
Cardinal Ignatius Kung (1901-2000)
Ignatius Kung, born in Shanghai in 1901, was named bishop of Shanghai and apostolic administrator of the dioceses of Nanjing and Suzhou only days after the communists founded the People's Republic of China in 1949. Instead of following the government's orders, he shunned the government-backed Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and oversaw the Legion of Mary. He continued to lead public devotions, sometimes under the wary eyes of police ... In 1955, he was arrested and brought before a mob in a stadium, where he was accused of defying the church. When he was pushed to a microphone to confess, he instead shouted, "Long live Christ the King, long live the pope," ... Kung was brought to trial and sentenced to life in prison for leading a "counterrevolutionary clique under the cloak of religion." 1
Such persecutions are not ancient history or sad stories from the 50's. They are still going on:
"In April & May, 1996, Chinese government mobilized 5,000 troops, about 30 armored cars and some helicopters in order to seal a tiny village called Dong Lu in Hebei province and to destroy a Marian shrine there. The Statue of Holy Mary at the Marian shrine in Dong Lu was confiscated. Dong Lu was consecrated as the Shrine for Our Lady of China in 1932 by Pope Pius XI. Even though the Chinese government tried to stop this annual pilgrimage to Dong Lu, over 100,000 'illegal' Roman Catholic braved the physical abuses, roadblocks, and other restrictions to pray at the shrine in May, 1995. Holy Mother rewarded the pilgrims with a spectacular apparition on May 23, 1995. This miracle, witnessed by over 30,000 pilgrims, was certified by the Bishop of Baoding. In the Diocese of Baoding where Dong Lu is located, the Bishop of the diocese, Bishop Su Xhimin, has disappeared after he was arrested in March 1996. The Auxiliary Bishop of Baoding, the pastor of the destroyed shrine in Dong Lu, and many lay leaders are all in jail. All the priests in Baoding diocese are either in jail or in hiding." 2
The costs of being a Catholic in China today are severe:
"If you were a Chinese national, living in China today, and attending a Mass celebrated by an underground Roman Catholic priest, you would be fined 500 yuan which is approximately one month's salary for one worker in China. The priest who said the Mass would be fined twice as much. If you were caught the 2nd and 3rd time, the fine would be doubled. If you were caught the fourth time, you would be expelled from the city to the country side with much reduced living space. As a result, when hundreds of millions of Catholics attended Easter and Christmas Masses around the world, there was no Roman Catholic Masses in most parts of China." 3
Most Chinese Catholics are forced to worship secretly in homes fearing fines and imprisonment
The government of Zhejiang province in eastern China has demolished the Catholic church of the town of Linjiayuan for the third time in 18 months. UCA News, a Catholic press agency in Thailand, reported that the town's residents took advantage of the national holiday, from Oct. 1-7 , to reconstruct their church, but the government demolished it Oct. 25. The government made this decision after Catholics refused to become members of the local section of the state-controlled "patriotic" church.4
This is not ancient Rome, this is present-day China. The good are being martyred for their Faith in the most populous country on earth.
The CPA is completely and undeniably schismatic
To gain control over Catholics, the communists set up the Catholic Patriotic Association in 1957 as a state-controlled "Church" independent of Rome. The CPA's constitution explicitly rejects allegiance to the pope and is therefore schismatic under Canon 751:
...schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff...5
This basic Catholic principle was affirmed as recently as 1995 when Pope John Paul II said:
"A Catholic who wishes to remain such and to be recognized as such cannot reject the principle of communion with the Successor of Peter." 6
Painting and icon commemorating the 120 Chinese Martyrs canonized in the year 2000
The CPA has illegally consecrated over 100 bishops without a papal mandate. Pope Pius XII7 and John XXIII8 both condemned these actions as violations of Canon Law (1382):
a bishop who consecrates someone a bishop and the person who receives such a consecration from a bishop without a pontifical mandate incur an automatic "latae sententiae" excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.9
Remember Archbishop Lefebvre was officially excommunicated for the same crimes on a much smaller level. Despite the obvious schismatic activities, the Vatican has pronounced no official sentence of "schism" or "excommunication" on the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. In his "ecumenical" visit to China last year, Vatican Cardinal Roger Etchegaray responded to a recent illegal consecration of CPA bishops with an implication that it is a new and surprising action:
"If that is repeated, they risk compromising the rapprochement among Catholics" 10
If that is repeated? Seeing as how that has been repeated 150 times over the past 50 years, this is a meaningless remark and an empty threat. The Cardinal goes on to comment on how Chinese Catholics are:
"...trying bit by bit to overcome the unhappy separation into 'underground' and 'official'" 11
Referring to the plight of Catholics in China as an "unhappy separation" is a horribly insulting joke. The Chinese Catholic Church and CPA are not "separate" because of a lack of "dialogue" or "understanding". This isn't an intrareligious quarrel over minor issues. Catholics are persecuted and tortured for being Catholic while schismatics exchange their souls for "religious freedom".
Catholic support of the CPA
Despite the CPA's refusal to be part of the Catholic Church, many Catholics treat them as such, ignoring the millions still fighting for the Faith. In New York and San Francisco, CPA priests are even granted priestly faculties to offer Mass and administer sacraments as if they were Catholic. This is completely contrary to the Holy See's 1988 directive that:
"The 'Patriotic' bishops and priests are not to be invited or even allowed to celebrate religious functions in public, either in the churches or in the oratories of the various religious institutes." 12 (emphasis mine)
These impostors are also allowed to train in American seminaries with all expenses paid in full by Maryknoll scholarships. Underground Catholic seminarians are ignored and must depend on meager private contributions to receive training in barely adequate accommodations. According to Maryknoll representatives and seminary employees, this program is encouraged and supported by the Vatican.13
Catholic charities, religious orders and even bishops routinely give financial contributions to the CPA without so much as acknowledging the true Catholic Church in China.
According to the magazine 30 DAYS, Catholic institutions donated $ 4.7 million while the underground loyal bishops were left with nothing.14
Some justify the scandalous support of this fake "Church" with the claim that many CPA members are "secretly loyal to the Pope". This claim has been repeated by Catholic World News on at least three occasions:
"Many Catholics worship in churches that, while openly loyal to the government association, secretly pledge allegiance to the Pope." 15
There are also rumored "secret reconciliation" agreements between the CPA and the Catholic Church.
"In 1991, Jesuit Father Guiseppe Pittau, now Archbishop and a member of the Roman Curia, told reporters in Rome that there were 20 CPA bishops who are 'in perfect communion with the Pope and are therefore legitimate [Roman Catholic bishops].' In its article on September 12, 1991, South China Morning Post of Hong Kong reported that 'there were at least 10 more bishops of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association who were recognized by the Vatican privately, in addition to the 20 announced by Father Pittau.' Since then, many remarks have been made by various church people that most of the CPA bishops have been accepted by the Holy See and are therefore in communion with the Pope. ... Mr. Thomas Quigley, an official of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States in January, 2000: 'It is believed that the vast majority of the bishops associated with the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association have been secretly reconciled with Rome.' ... Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the spokesman of the Vatican, neither confirmed nor denied father Pittau's statement when he said: 'I believe it is opportune to emphasize that the statements by Father Pittau did not represent the Church's.' Since then, in the last eight years, even in the face of numerous reports in the media regarding the conversion of the CPA's bishops to the Pope, the Holy See has never issued any statement to confirm or to deny such reports." 16
Absolutely not being "secretly" Catholic in an underground Church is one thing; doing so while promoting forced abortion is quite another. Such secret arrangements while cooperating with evil are not and have never been morally acceptable. Catholics are called to accept persecution and even death before denying their Faith or cooperating with Satan. The Roman martyrs knew very well that they could not possibly partake in (much less encourage) the government's pagan worship while remaining "secretly" Catholic. As Christ Himself told his disciples:
"No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Matt. 6:24)
Granted not everyone will have the strength and courage to accept the rose of martyrdom in a given situation. Even St. Peter denied Christ and had to be admonished by Him on the Appian Way before finally meeting his death by crucifixion. But those who are blessed with the grace to do so should be praised as martyrs and treasures of the Faith, not ignored for their efforts in favor of those who took the easy way out. For what is the point of last year's canonization of 120 Chinese martyrs if the modern martyrs still facing persecution are ignored? Is martyrdom a product of times past in a distant age?
In 1535, St. Thomas More observed from his Tower of London prison cell three Carthusian monks being led in a cart to their death. He remarked to his visiting daughter:
"...these blessed Fathers be now as cheerfully going to their deaths as bridegrooms to their marriage!"
"I have been ever the king's good and loyal servant, but God's first."
Such are stories of men whose lives and words inspire and encourage future generations of Catholics through the worst of times stories of courage, faith and honor in the face of the worst persecutions imaginable. Similar stories will never be told of the Chinese priests who caved in to the communists' demands, betrayed the successor of Peter, openly promoted the most diabolical "population control" policies in history, then secretly pledged allegiance to the pope when it served their interests. This is not the Catholic heritage.
St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher accepted torture and death rather than leave the Catholic Church for a national imitation. Cardinal Ignatius Kung refused to accept the evil CPA and preferred to spend decades in prison. They were not seeking earthly fame or recognition; they were simply Catholic and could not possibly do otherwise. Millions of persecuted Catholics in China make the same choice every day and deserve the Church's support. They are willing to sacrifice their health and lives for the one thing that truly matters. What are their leaders in the Vatican willing to do for them?
Current dialogue and ecumenical efforts
The Cardinal Kung foundation has published an open letter to head Vatican officials (including Cardinals Ratzinger and Sodano) asking for clarification on the status of the CPA and explanations for the lack of appropriate action. To date, no official answers to these questions or explanations have been given.17 Instead, the answers have come in the form of disturbing ecumenical gestures which have included Cardinal Etchegaray's recent concelebration of Mass with CPA bishops at a Marian shrine stolen from the Chinese Catholics.18
During the previously mentioned papal address commemorating the 400th anniversary of Matteo Ricci's arrival in China, Pope John Paul II apologized for the actions of unnamed Catholics:
"History, however, reminds us of the unfortunate fact that the work of members of the Church in China was not always without error ... I feel deep sadness for these errors and limits of the past ... For all this I ask the forgiveness and understanding of those who may have felt hurt in some way by such actions on the part of Christians." 19
He failed to mention exactly which "members" and which "errors" he was apologizing for. Was he asking forgiveness for the work of the missionaries who saved millions of souls in a pagan nation? Or for bringing the Faith to a country which still has 10 million Catholics despite the government's best efforts to eradicate them? Was it an apology for the efforts of the recently canonized Chinese martyrs? or Cardinal Kung? or St. Francis Xavier? or Matteo Ricci on the very day he was being commemorated?
Such gestures seem by design to allow for different interpretations by different audiences. The Chinese communists can take it as an apology for numerous saints and martyrs while many faithful Catholics can regard it as only referring to obscure incidents too vague to matter. But it didn't work. China responded to the Pope's general apology and subsequent request for "dialogue" with a demand for a specific apology for last year's canonization of 120 Chinese martyrs. Also required would be the Vatican to break all future diplomatic ties with Taiwan. We can only hope and pray both demands are rejected. Apologizing for canonizations would be a new low in an already embarrassing array of ecumenical gestures, and a betrayal of Taiwan would weaken the stance and undermine the efforts of several Catholic countries in Central America.
Additionally, China requires a Vatican agreement not to "interfere with China's internal affairs using the pretext of religious issues". These "issues" include the most evil and murderous "population control" policy mankind has ever known. An "issue" that has only gotten worse since the "fall" of communism and is fully supported by the morally bankrupt United Nations.20 Rather than expressing shock and horror at such a ridiculous "demand", Archbishop Giuseppe Pittau, the secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, responded with confidence that "technical solutions" could be found to allow such an agreement.21 Would these "technical solutions" involve a sinful agreement to remain silent in the face of such obvious evils? Will it be an "agreement" that that can be interpreted in several different ways? That didn't work with the apology so it's doubtful it will work again. And how exactly does a "technical" solution differ from an "actual" solution? Is it really a solution at all or a diplomatic slight of hand intended to further fruitless and scandalous "dialogue"?
As with the Russian Orthodox, Vatican officials seem less interested in converting the schismatics than building up and supporting them in hopes of a future "reconciliation" of the group as a whole. But even if one remains blindly optimistic as to this plan's potential for success, can "reconciliation" even happen without the schismatics submitting to the Roman Pontiff and shedding their dogmatic errors? Is this process helped by the Vatican's refusal to make them accountable for their actions and truthfully informing them as to the spiritual consequences they face? Has any Schismatic "Church" thus far agreed (even partially) to denounce their schism and the accompanying dogmatic errors? Finally, are these questionable "ecumenical" tactics worth betraying millions of persecuted underground Catholics? The answer to each is an unqualified 'no'.
Pope John Paul II greets Cardinal Kung
Hundreds of Catholic bishops and priests are in prisons and "labor reform camps" for defending the Faith. The more appeals that are made to Rome, the more support the CPA receives. It has been said before that many of the novel actions coming out of the Vatican are insulting to martyrs. That is not some traditionalist overreaction but the exact claim of the martyrs themselves, including Cardinal Ignatius Kung who said as much and more in his nationally televised homily of June 29, 1994:
"...Many Catholic Church leaders in the Free world extended hospitality and donated large sums of money to bishops of the Communist's Patriotic Association. The Chinese government regards these friendships and cooperation with the Patriotic Association as an endorsement of its current policy on religion. With this license, they continue their persecution of the loyal Roman Catholic Church without any fear of reprisal. Unfortunately, these misguided friendships and acts of charity on behalf of the Patriotic Association have only prolonged the sufferings of the loyal Church...This is a disservice to the Chinese. This is a ridicule to the continued sacrifices and sufferings of the loyal 'underground' Roman Catholic communities. It is a mockery to the blood of the thousands of Chinese martyrs." 22 (emphasis mine)
Chinese Catholics need much more than just a "technical solution".
Peter W. Miller
1 Fatima News (3/00)
2 Cardinal Kung Foundation Web Site (www.cardinalkungfoundation.org) [CKFWEB]
4 ZENIT (11/7/01)
5 Code of Canon Law - 751
6 Pope John Paul II - Speech in Manila (01/95)
7 Ad Apostolorum Principis (1958)
8 Ad Petram Cathedri (1959)
9 Code of Canon Law - 1382
10 CWNews (9/25/00)
12 Sacred Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, China Advisory Prot. 3314/88 (9/88)
13 Cardinal Kung Foundation, "Open Letter" (3/28/00) [OPLTR]
15 CWNews (6/20/01; 9/27/01; 10/31/01)
18 CWNews (9/25/00)
19 ZENIT (10/26/01)
20 S. Mosher, "UNFPA Hides Coercion Behind a Green Front" (11/2/01)
21 ZENIT (10/29/01)