CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 16 March 2019

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The lie of history eroding moral fibre of China cardinal says

HONG KONG (SE): “Why can’t we just let go of the annual commemoration of what happened 24 years ago in Tiananmen Square on June 4?” the former bishop of Hong Kong, Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, asked at a Mass attended by about 300 people at Holy Cross parish in Shaukeiwan on the evening of June 3.

In answering his own question, the cardinal said that it is necessary to seek justice for the students and workers who shed their blood in the square and in the adjoining streets, not only because it happened in the nation to which we belong, but also because it has deeply affected society in Hong Kong.

“We ask for vindication, an admission that what unfolded in Tiananmen Square 24 years ago was not a riot, but a patriotic movement. The government was wrong and committed a serious crime by dealing with young people in such a violent and even fatal manner,” Cardinal Zen explained.

He proclaimed the dead to be martyrs, saying they are already with God in heaven. “We respect them as martyrs,” he continued, “We believe that when Jesus returns justice will be theirs.”

He also urged people not to forget those who survived and have had to live with the trauma, as well as those forced to flee into exile in foreign lands.

“We pray that God will console them and ask that their dignity may be regained and that they will one day be given the care and support of society that they so richly deserve,” the cardinal said.

He pointed out that there are people who question the use of the word vindication, explaining that the word simply means those at fault admitting guilt, while at the same time questioning where the fault should lie.

“Who should admit fault?” he asked. “Whose fault was it? Was it someone’s fault, or the fault of a system?”

Cardinal Zen said that some may dare to assume responsibility, but basically the root of the problem lies in an evil system that places the Communist Party in such an exulted position, so ultimately, it is the party which is at fault.

He then quoted the often cited riddle posed by Deng Xiaoping, “It does not matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.”

However, he commented that while Deng postured as a sage when proclaiming these words, they are in fact a statement of the moral principle of Stalinism, which he described as, “Stopping at nothing to protect the power of the party, killing to achieve peace and stability, and dubbing this a value that overrides all else.”

The Chinese cardinal stated, “The Communist Party saved itself with violence and lies, but it sacrificed the people and our country.”

He commented that in this, the Communist Party denied the basis of its own revolution, as well as of democracy, explaining that it is simply the statement of the hard and fast rule that economic progress stands before all else.

However, he then questioned the value of such progress in light of the repression needed to sustain it, saying that it can only be explained by looking at the corruption of those at the top.

“The prevailing culture in the post-Tiananmen Massacre era in China has been characterised by violence and lies,” he noted, saying that this has been evident in the string of scandals resulting from fake labelling of food and medicine, low quality building constructions that ignore the legal specifications, together with words spoken with forked tongue, as well as hypocritical statements and policies.

Cardinal Zen commented that the government of the People’s Republic of China has enslaved its own people in the history of the past decades in order to maintain the absolute authority of the Communist Party, which he added is clearly reflected in the life of the Church on the mainland.

He described the authorities in Beijing as using the carrot and stick approach to subvert the Catholic Church away from its true mission, saying that priests and bishops who have resisted this have been imprisoned or removed from the scene, while the compliant prosper and grow wealthy.

“Unfortunately, there are some ladder-climbers, who have been happy to enslave themselves to the system and have wheedled their way into the highest ranks of governance in the Church,” he pointed out.

He added that its influence is also reflected in the new culture evolving in Hong Kong since the handover from British to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

He pointed to the ongoing tendency of the administration to sit cheek by jowl with the rich and powerful, while at the same time pushing down minority groups and following other discriminatory policies that have led to a self-serving mentality among the people.

“Can we be a bit more optimistic because our country has new leaders?” he asked.

He quoted the new president of China, Xi Jingping, as saying, “We cannot let go. We have to protect the land we have fought for, otherwise our fate will be the same as the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics).”

Cardinal Zen then said that we must ask what this statement is supportive of, while pointing out that it is certainly not democracy, as it can only serve to prop up an absolute authority.

He added that this explains why the cost of maintaining internal security in the country is higher than defending it from outside threats, a cost currently running at nearly 770 billion yuan (971.25 billion).

He also wondered if the same reasoning lies behind the listing of seven prohibited topics in new education and academic guidelines, which include universal values, freedom and human rights.

“Can we accept that?” he asked.

Cardinal Zen stated that the people and the country are a gift from God, yet the systematic and violent repression continues to damage both the country and the moral fibre of the people.

“A country relies on neither the mountains nor the rivers, nor on its natural resources, but on its people—the quality of its people,” he continued, expressing regret that the blatant assault on the people by the government has seen the traditional Chinese virtues of politeness, honesty and diligence eroded.

He concluded by asking those at the Mass to look up, as our help ultimately comes from God.

“Jesus said, ‘blessed are those who search for righteousness and those who are persecuted for my sake.’ Righteousness means justice—the basis of truth. We have rights, we should be respected.”

 

He pointed out that the government exists to serve the people, but Jesus gives us the courage to stand up for our rights and ideals. “Only he can awaken the consciences of our rulers,” the cardinal concluded.

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