CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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What grace to ask for

HONG KONG (AsiaNews): Pointing to the need to bring the Holy See back from the brink of selling out the Catholic people of China to the government in Beijing, the former bishop of Hong Kong, Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, said that the plight of people like 41-year-old Father Wei Heping, who died mysteriously two years ago in Shanxi, must be kept squarely in our consciousness.
At a Mass at the parish of St. Jude in North Point organised by the Justice and Peace Commission on November 10 marking the second anniversary of the day that Father Wei’s body was found in a river, Cardinal Zen was critical of the Vatican for remaining silent over the suspicious circumstances of his death.
Pulling back from pointing the finger at Pope Francis, Cardinal Zen said, “The Holy See is not necessarily the pope.”
The cardinal reminded the gathering that since a dialogue has been continuing between the Vatican and Beijing, the Vatican has remained silent over grave events that the Church in China has been a victim of.
He pointed to the death of Father Wei, the arrest and detention of Bishop James Su Zhimim and the destruction of crosses on Church buildings in Zhejiang as things that should be questioned.
Ever cautious over the ongoing talks between the Holy See and Beijing, Cardinal Zen said, “Dialogue is important and necessary.”
He continued, “The Holy See is too optimistic about the Communist regime. The Vatican has depended on its diplomacy instead of faith. It does not have a bottom line for an agreement.”
He went on to say, “The Holy See is ceaselessly compromising and has even arrived at the point of selling itself out just to appease. This is by no means what God expects of the Church and is by no means faithful to the mission that Christ gave the apostles.”
He called recent news that the talks have been suspended shocking, adding that he believes it is because the pope had become more cautious, perhaps because Beijing had expressed other demands to which he cannot agree.
Cardinal Zen was critical of a move by China to pressure what he termed faithful bishops to resign in order to create space for illicitly ordained or excommunicated ones to move into their places.
“This is a bolt out of the blue! And it is the approach of a huge disaster for the Church,” he said.
“There are maybe people who think that I’m using the Mass to complain. No, I think Father Wei is using my mouth to communicate. These words serve to let us know what kind of grace we are asking for today,” Cardinal Zen said.
Father Wei was a well-educated priest from the unofficial Church community and an competent teacher. His body was found in suspicious circumstances in the Ren River, near Taiyuan City on 8 November 2015.
His expected return from Liaoning never took place.
It is believed that the autopsy revealed a wide haemorrhagic area in the right part of the brain, but there were no visible wounds on the skin. The police concluded that he had committed suicide and archived the case.
His family was not allowed to have a copy of the autopsy report and asked in vain for the investigation to be reopened.
After going through Cardinal Zen’s words on his blog, a person in China replied, “After reading this, my heart bleeds. As the cardinal said, maybe we should retreat to a cave and weep. But my heart does not give me peace.”
The Justice and Peace Commission has published an electronic booklet titled Peace Pilgrim, symbolically using the name Heping for peace.
It contains articles written by his family, friends and acquaintances in the hope that the truth about his death will be revealed.
There is also a reflection written by Father Wei on the relations between China and the Vatican entitled Time belongs to God, saying there should be no hurry to make an agreement before the political situation can accommodate it. 

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