” Cardinal Zen has affirmed several times that no Accord [with the Chinese government] would have been better than a ‘brutal Accord.’ The last three Pontiffs did not share such a position and have supported and accompanied the crafting of the Accord which, at the present, appeared to be the only one possible.” —Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re (above left), 86, in a highly unusual letter to all the cardinals of the Catholic Church, in a letter of February 26, 2020, sharply critical of Cardinal Joseph Zen (above right), archbishop emeritus of Hong Kong, released by an Italian website yesterday
” The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see Cardinals opposing Cardinals, Bishops against other Bishops. ” —A prophecy when the Blessed Mother appeared at Akita, Japan, in the 1970s. It came right after these words: “The Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before.”
As Michael Brown has written: “It was in 1973 that the nun named Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa at a convent run by the Handmaids of the Eucharist in Yuzawadai on the outskirts of Akita heard a voice coming from a statue of Mary modeled after yet another apparition, Our Lady of All Nations, that had begun in the 1940s in Holland.
“It was Bishop Ito, as head of the Niigata Diocese, who later issued the approval of Akita on April 22, 1984 — Easter Sunday.
“The convent at Akita remains open, for the faithful to venerate the statue. But there still lingers controversy among bishops over the authenticity.
“Intriguing it is, however, the way one prediction, issued by the Blessed Mother at Akita, already materialized. This had to do with that message that Sister Sasagawa would one day be cured of her hearing disability.
“For indeed, on October 13 one year shortly after the experiences, the nun suddenly heard the phone ring — and answered it.
“On the other end was a shocked Bishop John Ito — who knew Sister Agnes was deaf and was aware of the prophecy that she would one day hear.”
Chinese Catholics Betrayed?
Chaos at the Summit of the Church: Cardinal Re, Dean of the College of Cardinals, Attacks Chinese Cardinal Zen; Italian Archbishop Viganò Defends Cardinal Zen
A new and sad controversy.
As the world, from China to South Korea to Iran to Italy and now to the United States as well, is deeply troubled by fears of a virulent flu virus apparently originating in Wuhan, China, we now also have a flurry of odd activity at the top of the Catholic Church — as Pope Francis himself seems to have developed a cold which has itself led to wild (and not in any way verified) rumors about his own health.
Activity which seems in some ways unprecedented.
The activity has to do with disagreements over the Catholic Church (Vatican) accords with the communist government of China.
On February 26, Wednesday, Italian Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, 86, recently appointed by Pope Francis the new Dean of the College of Cardinals (succeeding Cardinal Angelo Sodano, 92) sent a letter to all the cardinals of the Catholic Church in which he sharply criticizes Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, S.D.B., 88., born in Shanghai, China.
Zen for his part has for nearly two years been criticizing a secret (the text of the accord has never been released) 2018 Vatican accord with China which allows the communist government a role in naming the bishops of the Catholic Church in China. A letter he wrote to his fellow cardinals on September 17, 2019, is a particular object of Cardinal Re’s critique.
Wednesday, Re, in his very first act as the new Dean of the College of Cardinals, said Zen’s criticisms of the Holy See-China Accord are misguided and should be discounted.
In short, as of this week, we clearly have “cardinal against cardinal.”
And then, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, himself a lifelong Vatican diplomat and in fact for decades a close collaborator with Cardinal Re, has nevertheless sprung promptly to a passionate defense of Cardinal Zen against Re’s charges. (text below)
Here below is an attempt to provide some context for this controversy and the complete texts of the interventions.
A blessed Lenten season for all, in faith and hope, despite the sins and worrisome fears of this present time. We entrust ourselves now as always to the love of Jesus Christ through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Here is a summary report from Catholic News Agency:
Cardinal Re claims Cardinal Zen is at odds with John Paul II, Benedict XVI on China
Vatican City, Feb 29, 2020 / 03:09 pm (CNA).- The newly-appointed Dean of the College of Cardinals purportedly sent a letter to cardinals Wednesday claiming that the China-Vatican deal represents the minds of St. John Paul II and of Benedict XVI, and that Cardinal Zen is mistaken in his opposition to the deal.
An Italian text of the letter from Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, dated Feb. 26, was published Feb. 29 by La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana.
“I desire first of all to emphasize that, in their approach to the situation of the Catholic Church in China, there is a profound symphony of the thought and of the action of the last three Pontificates, which — out of respect for the truth — have favored dialogue between the two parties and not contrariety,” Cardinal Re wrote.
“Cardinal Zen has affirmed several times that it would be better to have no Accord than a ‘bad Accord’. The three last Popes did not share this position and supported and accompanied the drafting of the Accord that, at the present moment, seemed to be the only one possible,” he stated.
Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, has been an outspoken opponent of the 2018 agreement between the Vatican and the People’s Republic of China regarding episcopal appointments.
The Church in mainland China has been divided for some 60 years between the underground Church, which is persecuted and whose episcopal appointments are frequently not acknowledged by Chinese authorities, and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, a government-sanctioned organization.
The agreement between the Holy See and Beijing was intended to normalize the situation of China’s Catholics and unify the underground Church and the CPCA.
Cardinal Re, who was confirmed as Dean of the College of Cardinals just six weeks ago, wrote to the cardinals that “with reference to the various public interventions” of Cardinal Zen, “I feel obliged to share some considerations and to offer some elements which favor a serene evaluation of the complex questions regarding the Church in China.”
For Cardinal Re, while St. John Paul II “on the one hand favored the return to full communion of the bishops consecrated illicitly in the course of the years beginning in 1958, and at the same time it was his desire to sustain the life of ‘clandestine’ communities which were led by ‘unofficial’ bishops and priests, on the other he promoted the idea of reaching a formal Accord with the governing Authorities on the nomination of bishops.”
That accord was eventually reached, he said, and signed in Beijing Sept. 22, 2018.
It is particularly surprising to the dean of cardinals that Zen has written that, “the accord signed is the same one which Pope Benedict had, at the time, refused to sign”.
“That assertion does not correspond to truth,” Cardinal Re stated.
“After having personally taken note of the existing documents in the Current Archive of the Secretariat of State, I am able to assure Your Eminence that Pope Benedict XVI had approved the draft of the Accord on the nomination of Bishops in China, which only in 2018 was it possible to sign.”
Cardinal Re was an official of the state secretariat from 1989 to 2000.
Because the deal provide for the pope’s intervention in bishop appointments in China, the dean said, “the expression ‘independent Church’ can no longer be interpreted in an absolute manner, as ‘separation’ from the Pope, as was the case in the past.”
“Unfortunately, there is slowness in drawing in loco all the consequences which derive from this epochal change both on the doctrinal and on the practical level and there persist dolorous tensions and situations,” Cardinal Re said.
“It is unthinkable, on the other hand, that a partial Accord — the Accord touching, in fact, only the theme of the nomination of Bishops — changes things in almost an automatic and immediate way in the other aspects of the life of the Church.”
Cardinal Re objected to Cardinal Zen’s evaluation of the pope’s pastoral guidelines concerning the civil registration of clergy in China, saying that these guidelines “were designed precisely to safeguard the faith” in complicated and difficult situations.
Those guidelines recognize the choice of those who feel that they cannot in good conscience register with the government and accept sinicization. However, reports indicate that those who decline to register are facing harassment and persecution.
Cardinal Zen’s intervention, Cardinal Re said, “helps us to comprehend how difficult still is the path of the Church in China and how complex is the mission of pastors and of the Holy Father!”
“We are, therefore, all called to unite ourselves closely to him and to pray intensely for the Holy Spirit to support him and to support the communities of the Catholic Church in China, who despite suffering for a long time demonstrate their loyalty to the Lord, on the path of reconciliation, of unity and of mission at the service of the Gospel.”
The Vatican-China deal has been roundly criticized not only by Cardinal Zen, but also by human rights groups and religious freedom advocates in the US, and the Holy See has taken pains to defend and promote it.
Fewer than two weeks before Cardinal Re’s letter was sent, the Holy See publicized a meeting held between its Secretary for Relations with States and the Chinese foreign minister, during which the accord on episcopal appointments was discussed.
In March 2019, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, then-prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said that the accord “will be a very good thing for the Church,” and he criticized those who “run the risk of rowing out of sync within the barque of Peter.”
And one year ago, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin — who Cardinal Zen holds to bear primary responsibility for the deal — said at a conference that the agreement must be implemented.
Cardinal Zen told CNA Feb. 11 that “the situation is very bad” in China, and added that “the bad things come from [Parolin].”
According to Cardinal Zen, Cardinal Parolin is “so optimistic about the so-called ‘Ostpolitik’, the compromise.”
But, Cardinal Zen told CNA, “you cannot compromise” with the Chinese Communist Party, whom he called “persecutors” of the faith.
“They want complete surrender. That’s communism.”
“More and more, the Church [is] under persecution,” Cardinal Zen said, “both the official Church, and the underground.”
Cardinal Re’s February 26, 2020 Letter to All Cardinals
Here is Cardinal Re’s letter, preceded by a blasting introduction from a conservative Roman observer named Brother Alexis Bugnolo, who comments on Vatican affairs in his own blog.
DEAN OF COLLEGE OF CARDINALS ATTACKS CARDINAL ZEN IN PUBLIC LETTER
FEBRUARY 29, 2020 8 COMMENTS
by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
I had put some hope in Cardinal Re, I see that my hope was greatly misplaced. Here is my English translation of the Letter of the Cardinal Dean, made public today, attacking Cardinal Zen for denouncing the betrayal of Catholics in China. By this Letter, Cardinal Re has definitively joined the dark side. First the Italian original, then my own English translation. Prot. N. 1/2020 means that this is the very first letter Cardinal Re has written in his capacity as Dean of the College.
Vaticano, 26 Febbraio 2020
Prot. N. 1/2020
With reference to diverse public statements by Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, S. D. B., in particular to his letter of September 17, 2019, which he send as Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong to us members of the College of Cardinals, I feel the duty to share some considerations and to offer my own contributions which favor a serene evaluation of these complex questions in regard to the Church in China.
I desire, first of all, to point out, that in the approach to the situation of the Catholic Church in China, there is a profound agreement of thought and of action among the last three Pontiffs, which — in respect of the truth — has favored dialogue between the two Parties and not their opposition. In particular, they had in mind the delicate and important question of the nomination of Bishops.
Thus, Saint John Paul II, if he favored in part the return to full communion of the Bishops illicitly consecrated in the course of the years beginning in 1958, and at the same time had the desire to support the life of the “underground” community which was led by “un-official” Bishops and priests, on the other hand, he promoted the idea of arriving at a formal Accord with the governing Authorities on the nomination of Bishops. Such an Accord, the composition of which took much time, more than 20 years, was signed at Peking on Sept. 22, 2018.
Cardinal Zen has affirmed several times that no Accord would have been better than a “brutal Accord.” The last three Pontiffs did not share such a position and have supported and accompanied the crafting of the Accord which, at the present, appeared to be the only one possible.
In particular, the affirmation of the Cardinal that “the signed accord is the same which Pope Benedict had, in his own time, refused to sign” is a surprising one. Such an assertion does not correspond to the truth. After having taken cognizance of the documents existing in the Current Archive of the Secretary of State, I am able to assure Your Eminence that Pope Benedict XVI approved the project of the Accord on the nomination of Bishops in China, which was only able to be signed in 2018.
The Accord foresees the intervention of the authority of the Pope in the process of nominations of Bishops in China. Even from this certain fact, the expression, “independent Church” cannot be interpreted in an absolute manner, as “separation” from the Pope, as it has been in the past.
Unfortunately, there is a delay in seeing all the consequences in practice which derive from such an epochal change both on the doctrinal plane and on the practical one and there remain tensions and sorrowful situations. It is unthinkable, on the other hand, that a partial Accord — the Accord touches upon, in fact, only the theme of the nomination of Bishops — changes the things as if in an automatic and immediate manner even in the other aspects of the life of the Church.
Cardinal Zen, in evaluating the “Pastoral Orientations of the Holy See on civil registration of the Clergy in China,” of June 28, 2019, writes: “A test contrary to the Faith is signed and it declares that the intention is to favor the good of the community, a more adequate evangelization, a responsible care of the goods of the Church. This general norm is obviously against every principle of morality. If accepted, it would justify apostasy” (see “Dubia”) The “Pastoral Orientations”, on the contrary, have been thought out precisely to safeguard the Faith in such complicated and difficult situations that would put personal conscience in a crisis.
The Cardinal, then, in his letter speaks also of the “slaughter of the Church in China by the party which should protect Her and defend Her from Her enemies” and, in particular, in an interview, addresses Catholics with these words: “wait for better times, return to the Catacombs, communism is not eternal” (New York Times, Oct. 24, 2018). This deals, unfortunately, with very heavy affirmations that contest the very pastoral guide of the Holy Father even in his relations with “underground” Catholics, notwithstanding that the Pope has not omitted to listen repeatedly to the Eminent Cardinal and to read his numerous missives.
Dear confrere, this anguished intervention of Cardinal Zen helps us to understand how much the path of the Church in China is still difficult and how complex is the mission of Shepherds and of the Holy Father!
Consequently, we are all of us called to be closely united with Him and to pray intensely so that the Holy spirit support Him and support the communities of the Catholic Church in China, which although suffering for a long time, shows their fidelity to the Lord, in the path of reconciliation, of unity and of mission in the service of the Gospel.
Wishing you all good, I cordially salute you,
+ Cardinal Re
And here is an excerpt from Brother Bugnolo’s comments:
“This letter is an outrage. It claims that… the betrayal of 30 million Catholics to the wolves who wish to devour them is a work of the Holy Spirit and was approved by Pope Benedict! Notice, he says he makes this statement on the basis of documents in the Secretary of State, while omitting whether he spoke with Pope Benedict XVI. If what he says is true, why not have Benedict XVI verbally confirm it?… If the Cardinal truly means what he says, I dare him to propose the same kind of agreement for the nomination of Bishops with president Trump of the USA. The implication of this letter is that Marxism is good for the Church and that force to make Catholics comply with Marxism is good for the faithful. Get ready for world-wide persecution… This letter is therefore most ominous.”
Archbishop Viganò Defends and Praises Cardinal Zen
And here is the text of Archbishop Viganò‘s letter in support of Zen and Zen’s position on the controversial Holy See-China Accord.
By Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò
February 29, 2020
(First the Italian original — also as a help to those who would like to improve their Italian — and then an English translation by Diane Montagna of LifeSiteNews.)
Sono l’arcivescovo Carlo Maria Viganò, già Nunzio Apostolico negli Stati Uniti d’America.
Ho seguito con profonda partecipazione, condividendo la Sua sofferenza nella preghiera, i Suoi numerosi accorati Appelli a papa Bergoglio, per la drammatica situazione della Chiesa Martire in Cina, che lui stesso ha colpevolmente aggravato con il proditorio e sciagurato Accordo segreto firmato dalla Santa Sede con il Governo Comunista Cinese.
I Suoi accorati Appelli, Caro Fratello in Cristo, sono rimasti sistematicamente inascoltati e persino derisi in modo ipocrita e perverso. Quanto al Cardinale Parolin, ha agito da mero sconsiderato esecutore di un malvagio ordine superiore.
Ho letto stamane la ignominiosa e vergognosa Lettera che il Card. Giovanni Battista Re ha indirizzato a tutti i cardinali contro di Lei. Ne sono profondamente rattristato e indignato, e desidero esprimerLe tutto il mio affetto, la mia preghiera e la mia solidarietà fraterna nell’episcopato.
Lei è un coraggioso Confessore della Fede a cui va tutta la mia venerazione e ammirazione!
Purtroppo la menzogna in Vaticano è eretta a sistema, la verità è totalmente stravolta, l’inganno più perverso è spudoratamente praticato anche dai più insospettabili, che ora si prestano ad agire da strumenti complici dell’Avversario. Si è giunti addirittura ad affermare che “papa Benedetto XVI aveva approvato il progetto di Accordo” firmato nel 2018, quando invece tutti sappiamo della sua strenua resistenza e della sua reiterata riprovazione delle condizioni poste da un Regime persecutorio e sanguinario.
Il Vaticano ha fatto di tutto e di più per consegnare nelle mani del Nemico la Chiesa Martire Cinese: lo ha fatto siglando il Patto segreto; lo ha fatto legittimando “vescovi” scomunicati, agenti del regime; lo ha fatto con la deposizione di Vescovi legittimi; lo ha fatto imponendo ai Sacerdoti fedeli di registrarsi presso la chiesa succube della dittatura comunista; lo fa quotidianamente tacendo sulla furia persecutoria che proprio a partire da quell’infausto Accordo è andata inasprendosi in un inaudito crescendo. Lo sta facendo ora con questa ignobile missiva a tutti i cardinali, volta ad accusarLa, a denigrarLa e ad isolarLa.
Nostro Signore ci assicura che niente e nessuno potrà mai strappare dalla Sua mano coloro che resistono al nemico infernale e ai suoi accoliti, trionfando su di loro “per mezzo del Sangue dell’Agnello e grazie alla testimonianza del loro martirio” (Ap. 12, 11).
Il Vostro esempio, Caro Cardinale, e il prezzo altissimo che state pagando per difendere la Causa di Dio e della sua Chiesa, provochi in noi un salutare scossone, ci strappi dall’inerzia e dall’assuefazione con le quali assistiamo supini alla resa della Chiesa Cattolica nei suoi più alti vertici e nella sua gerarchia, all’eresia e all’apostasia, per essersi messa a seguire il Principe di questo mondo, menzognero e omicida sin da principio.
Parce, Domine, parce populo tuo,
quem redemisti, Christe, sanguine tuo,
ne in aeternum irascaris nobis.
+ Carlo Maria Viganò
Arcivescovo tit. di Ulpiana
Now the English translation of Viganò’s open letter to Cardinal Zen:
February 29, 2020
By Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò
This is Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America.
I have followed deeply — sharing in prayer your suffering — your many heartfelt appeals to Pope Bergoglio concerning the tragic situation of the Martyr Church in China, which he himself has culpably aggravated through the treacherous and wicked secret Agreement signed by Holy See with the Chinese Communist Government.
Your heartfelt appeals, dear Brother in Christ, have systematically been unheeded and even mocked in a hypocritical and perverse way. As for Cardinal Parolin, he has acted as a mere reckless executor of an evil order from above.
I read this morning the ignominious and shameful letter that Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re has addressed to all the cardinals against you. I am deeply saddened and indignant, and I wish to express to you all my affection, prayer and fraternal solidarity in the episcopate.
You are a courageous Confessor of the Faith and you have all my esteem and veneration!
Unfortunately, in the Vatican lying has been set into the system, truth has been totally overturned, and the most perverse deception is shamelessly practiced even by the most unsuspected figures, who have now given themselves over to acting as accomplices of the Adversary. They have even gone so far as to say that “Pope Benedict XVI had approved the draft Agreement” signed in 2018, when instead we all know of his strenuous resistance and repeated disapproval of the conditions imposed by a persecutory and bloody regime.
The Vatican has done everything and more to deliver the Chinese Martyr Church into the hands of the Enemy: it did so by signing the Secret Pact; it did so by legitimizing excommunicated “bishops” who are agents of the regime; it did so by the deposition of legitimate bishops; it did so by forcing faithful priests to register with a church that has succumbed to the Communist dictatorship; it does so on a daily basis by keeping silent about the persecutory fury that has gained unprecedented strength, precisely since the signing of that unfortunate Agreement. It is now doing so with this ignoble letter to all the cardinals, which is aimed at accusing you, denigrating you, and isolating you.
Our Lord assures us that nothing and no one will ever be able to snatch from His hands those who resist the infernal enemy and his acolytes, conquering them “by the Blood of the Lamb” and by the testimony of their martyrdom (cf. Rev. 12:11).
Your example, dear Cardinal, and the very high price you are paying to defend the Cause of God and His Church, gives us a salutary jolt, it rips us from the inertia and habituation with which we are passively witnessing the surrender of the Catholic Church, at its highest levels and in its hierarchy, to heresy and apostasy, by following the Prince of this world, who is a liar and murderer from the beginning (cf. Jn 8:44).
Parce, Domine, parce populo tuo, quem redemisti, Christe, sanguine tuo, ne in aeternum irascaris nobis. (“Spare, Lord, spare your people: Be not angry with us forever”)
+ Carlo Maria Viganò
Titular Archbishop of Ulpiana Apostolic Nuncio
Translated by Diane Montagna