CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Cardinal speaks on experience in China of the gift of and need for Divine Mercy

Give praise to the Lord for
He is good, His mercy is forever.
O Lord, Our God

How great is your name in all the earth. Your magnificence rises above the heavens. What is man that you take care of him? You have crowned him with glory and honour.

In this valley of tears we are all exiles, children of Eve; but some people, some nations, seem to have a bigger portion of suffering and tribulation than others.

The Jewish people seem to live under a constant curse. Your noble Polish nation bore a heavy cross under the oppression of Nazism and Marxism. My beloved Chinese people lived for centuries under emperors who claimed the right of life and death over their people.

Then the Republic came (in 1911). But internal power struggles, corruption and imperialistic attacks from outside gave no respite to our people. As a child and a boy in Shanghai, I experienced hunger and humiliation under the Japanese occupation.

Since 1949, our people have been mourning under the yoke of a communist regime. (According to Marx, after the victory of the communist revolution, there should have been a temporary dictatorship of the proletariat, but how long does this temporariness of dictatorship have to last and how much can the present leadership be considered to be a proletariat?)

Mercy, misericordia, is a heart (cor) faced with miseria (misery). 

God, the Creator, the Father, cares for his creatures, his children. To his suffering sons in China, he sent many missionaries (not a few of Polish nationality, among whom I remember the Salesians, Father Wieczorek, Father Mielczarek, Father Szeliga and Brother Prokopowicz).

They were the messengers of his Divine Mercy, to tell the suffering Chinese people, “Blessed are those in sorrow” and true consolation and salvation comes through the Cross and the Resurrection.

Yes, the gift of faith is the most precious gift from Divine Mercy. The Chinese people, already prepared by their Confucian culture, received the gospel message with joy and the seed bore abundant fruit: baptisms, vocations and even martyrdom.

Among the immense army of heroic witnesses to the faith, Pope John Paul II canonised 120 of them on this very first day of October of the Jubilee Year 2000, 120 heroes, comprised of bishops, priests, religious of consecrated life, lay faithful old and young, men and women: a bouquet of colourful and fragrant flowers.

I have spoken of mainland China. Actually, I came directly from Hong Kong, a tiny island with a little bigger piece of peninsula, at the extreme south-east point of China.

The Divine Mercy allowed Hong Kong to come under the  colonial administration of the British and enjoy peace and freedom, while in China, the Marxist regime went from one extreme to the other with cruel campaigns and purges, foolish policies causing years of famine and, on top of that, the Cultural Revolution: 10 years of unchecked violence, when all religions were simply made to disappear.

Many missionaries expelled from China at the beginning of the communist regime stayed in Hong Kong and took care of the refugees from China. They assisted the poor people in their material and spiritual needs. They provided for education and medical care, when the government was not yet in a position to cope with the situation.

Catholics are still a small minority today, we are 350,000 among a population of seven million, but we have been the special object of Divine Mercy and we have made ourselves instruments of Divine Mercy.

We have a very active life in our parishes, we have many religious congregations helping the diocesan clergy, we have few local vocations, but many lay people come to our seminary to learn theology. Every year we have more than 3,000 adult baptisms.

In society, people admire our works of mercy and our concern for the defence of human dignity and social justice.

In the middle of the year 1989, a tragedy unfolded in Beijing—Tiananmen Square: a peaceful movement of students and workers, demanding democracy and clean government was crushed by the army. The bloodshed seems to have helped other nations free themselves from communism, but not China, though China thereafter did continue its new policy of economic openness.

All of a sudden, with the Tiananmen tragedy, we in Hong Kong were made aware of our dormant Chinese identity, also because the time was approaching when Hong Kong would revert to Chinese sovereignty.

On 1 July 1997, Hong Kong again became an integral part of the nation. To alleviate the fears of Hong Kong people, Chinese leaders invented the very clever concept of one country, two systems, promising that Hong Kong would enjoy a high degree of autonomy and that things would not change for 50 years.

Assessing the post-1989 and post-1997 years, we have again to be grateful to the Divine Mercy. 

The regained Chinese identity is certainly a gift of Divine Mercy: we are made participants in the divine plan for our nation and in the destiny of our Church on the mainland, a plan and a destiny obviously according to the Paschal Paradigm: Cross and Resurrection.

Blessed John Paul II invited us to be the bridge between the Church in China and the universal Church after so many years of forced isolation. We took this call seriously.

Many people from Hong Kong visit the Church on mainland China, bringing whatever help they can, and the situation allows us to receive from them, our brothers and sisters, the wonderful inspiration of their faithful witness under persecution.

I myself had the chance to teach philosophy and theology in the seminaries in China for seven years, spending six months a year there, before they made me coadjutor bishop of Hong Kong at the end of 1996.

We have many reasons to be grateful to the Divine Mercy.

But the whole picture is not rosy. That is why I came here to ask for your prayers to the Divine Mercy. The persecution is still a harsh reality. The atheist regime has changed its tactics, but not its goal, which is to remove the Catholic Church in China from its foundation on the Rock of St. Peter.

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI wrote a Letter to the Church in the People’s Republic of China, encouraging his children to be faithful to the apostolic nature of the Church. The Holy Father also penned very kind words, inviting the Chinese government to a sincere dialogue.

Unfortunately, the Marxists do not understand reason or kindness. To so much patience and tolerance on the side of the Holy See, their answer is an uninterrupted series of arrogant, unilateral acts of violence.

In the meantime, our Church is being weakened: in the clandestine community, a sense of frustration is increasing; in the open community, controlled by the government, our bishops are being more and more enslaved, even opportunists (as the pope calls them) have infiltrated their numbers. 

The Holy Father is making repeated appeals for courage and coherence. He has appealed also to the whole Church to pray for the Church in China, especially through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Mercy and the powerful Our Lady Help of Christians of the Church.

In one of his recent invitations to pray for China, Pope Benedict XVI obviously had in his vision the image of the merciful Lord. He said, “May the Lord console the suffering, strengthen the doubtful, convert those who went astray.”

The Chinese faithful on the mainland have a very special devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary; you can find a picture of the Two Hearts in almost every Catholic home.

On this First Saturday of the Month of the Rosary and on this Feast of St. Theresa of the Infant Jesus and of the Holy Face, let us pray with the simplicity of a child, “Merciful Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ‘they are running out of wine’, the wine of enthusiasm and joy, of courage and coherence. Please, give strong leaders to our Church on mainland China, as you gave them to Polonia semper fidelis: Cardinal Wyszynski and Blessed John Paul II.”

I suppose in mainland China they are acquainted with the encyclical of Pope John Paul II on Divine Mercy. I am not sure how much they know about the revelations to St. Faustina.

Thank God, we have a very active Apostolate of Divine Mercy in Hong Kong. The picture of the Merciful Jesus is venerated in many churches and homes. The prayer at the Hour of Mercy is said by many people, personally or as a community.

I have brought a copy of the Chinese version of the Diary here, which has just come off the press. 

This wonderful instrument, together with the wonderful encyclical of Pope John Paul II, will help our people in mainland China increase their confidence in the infinite Divine Mercy, to taste that tender, gracious, fatherly and motherly love, in which alone is to be found our hope, from which alone the final victory of the Church will surely come.

I dream and wish that a strong delegation from China will be present at the Third World Congress to tell you about the marvellous work of the Divine Mercy.

I am grateful to Cardinal Barbarin and to the organisers of the congress for rearranging the programme to suit my time. I have only this day available, tomorrow I am going back to Hong Kong, because on the third and fourth of the month we have a case in the Court of Final Appeal.

We are fighting the government of Hong Kong, which passed a law that will take away from us the control of our schools (we have 300 Catholic schools in Hong Kong!)

We find the new law in contradiction to the Basic Law, so we have asked for a judicial review. For a fair outcome in this case, I also ask for your prayer to the Divine Mercy. Thank you.



Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun

Second World Apostolic
Congress of Divine Mercy in Poland

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