Things are going rapidly downhill in Hong Kong from the point of view of freedoms of any kind, including obviously freedom of religion. The title THE DEATH OF HONG KONG? in the post below is mine but the text and second title are from Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong. The current bishop is Cardinal John Tong as Hong Kong awaits the naming of his successor.
Please pray for their Eminences and for the Catholic faithful in China.
When Cardinal Zen refers to “the midnight celebrations of 1st July twenty-three years ago,” he is referring to the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong, commonly known as the handover of Hong Kong that occurred at midnight at the start of July 1st, 1997.
In a nutshell: Hong Kong was a former British colony. An agreement made in 1898 between the British and Chinese gave Britain 99 more years of rule over this colony leading to what in 1997, in the handover, would be known as “One country, Two Systems” wherein China pledged to preserve Hong Kong’s capitalist system.
THE DEATH OF HONG KONG?
From Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong:
What are people entertaining in their memory at this moment? Some may be going back to but others may remember demonstrations of a completely different kind (similar radically opposed reactions are taking place now at the passing of the National Security Law).
Some may remember with nostalgia the rally that took place on 1st July last year: Was it perhaps the last one in the history of Hong Kong? Was that peaceful, rational, non-violent resistance a failure? Some are asking themselves: what have we achieved with the Anti-Article 23 resistance, with the “Occupy Central” movement, and with the cooperation between “Peaceful Resistance” and “Aggressive Resistance” fighting the extradition law and police brutality?
Some say the National Security Law is here, what can we do?
What I myself have been remembering all this time, is what happened to me last year on 3rd July in Rome.
On 28th June last year a document (Bulletin No. 554) was issued by the Holy See: “Pastoral guidance for the civil registration of clergy in China” (Italian, English and Chinese) (JFL: here’s the English: https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2019/06/28/190628c.html)
It’s absolutely not normal that a document be issued by the Holy See without the specification of the particular Department and without the signature of the responsible authority. I questioned the then Prefect of the Congregation for Evangelization, Cardinal Filoni: “Did you refuse to sign the document?” He answered: “Nobody asked me to sign.” I questioned the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: “Had you ever seen the document before it was issued?” The answer was: “Now everything about China is exclusively in the hands of the Secretary of State.”
Since the document appeared to me to be very wrong, I took a flight to Rome the next day. In the morning of 30th June, I delivered a letter to Santa Marta, asking the Holy Father to be present, in one of the following days, at a dialogue between me and Cardinal Parolin, the obvious author of the document.
On the 1st of July, receiving no answer, I sent another letter with my “dubia” about the document, which I judged to be absolutely against the doctrine of the Church, because it encourages people to be part of a schismatic Church.
On 2nd July I was given the answer from the Pope: “You just talk to Parolin”. I said to the carrier of the answer: “It would be completely useless; so, please, tell the Holy Father I’m going back empty-handed”.
On 3rd July, the Holy Father invited me to supper with the presence of Parolin. I thought I was having a chance.
The supper was very simple during which I talked about the situation of Hong Kong. Parolin didn’t say a word. At the end I said, “May we talk about the document?” The answer from the Holy Father was: “I will look into the matter”. Then he showed me off to the door. That answer was the only reward of my long journey? Not exactly.
During the supper I noticed in the Holy Father much affection for me, but also some embarrassment. I understood the supper was a plan of Parolin, who wanted to tell me: “The Holy Father has much affection for you, but he listens to me, not to you; and I refuse to talk with you about the ‘Pastoral Guidelines’ in His presence. That is the end of it. Go home and don’t come any more.” So, I did not come back empty-handed. I had a chance to see with my eyes that Parolin is manipulating the Holy Father.
Receiving no word from the Holy Father, when I sent my book “FOR LOVE OF MY PEOPLE, I WILL NOT KEEP SILENT” to all the Cardinals at the end of September, I enclosed a letter asking them to take that matter at heart. I received a few answers showing compassion and promising prayers. Regrettably, the new Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Re wrote a letter to all Cardinals criticizing my letter. Obviously, Parolin forced that on him. I answered him immediately (read my blog of 1st March) with a supplement later (10th March).
It’s now a whole year since my visit to Pope Francis, but still no word from him. I am not sure whether my letters can reach him, so I put now on my blog what I want to say, hoping that he may get the chance to read it through somebody.
During the last two years, the Holy See did three things that damaged our Church in China:
1) A secret agreement with Chinese government on the appointment of bishops
The peculiarity of this agreement is its secrecy. It’s not even given to me to see it. Strictly speaking we couldn’t say anything either pro or against it. But one thing we know is that it is about the appointment of bishops. Pope Francis said that he had the last word in the matter, but I cannot be sure of that unless I can see the Chinese version of the document. In fact, I doubt whether there could be found such a clear statement that the Pope as the leader of the Catholic Church has the supreme power of these appointments.
Now, even before the signing of the agreement, there was a non-written compromise by choosing a candidate acceptable to both sides, that’s why many bishops had a double approval. The papal bulla could not be read during the ordination ceremony, but before the ceremony, in the sacristy; it used to be read to the bishops and the priests present.
(ALSO this from AsiaNews: Hong Kong, security law: bookstores pull ‘pro-democracy’ texts: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Hong-Kong,-security-law:-bookstores-pull-‘pro-democracy’-texts-50510.html)