CNA | Matt Hadro | February 15, 2020
On Feb. 11, Cardinal Joseph Zen, emeritus bishop of Hong Kong met with Congressional leaders on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. After that meeting, the cardinal gave an exclusive interview to CNA in which he discussed the Church in China, the Holy See’s agreement with the Communist regime, and his relationship with Pope Francis and the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
The following is a transcript of the cardinal’s interview with CNA. It has been edited for length and clarity.
Your Eminence, can you tell us about the situation of the Church in China?
“More and more, the Church is under persecution [in China]. Both the official Church, and the underground. Actually, the underground is doomed to disappear. Why? Because even the Holy See is not helping. The older bishops are dying, there are less than 30 bishops left in the underground Church, and no new priests being ordained.
“But we hope that [Chinese Catholics] can keep the faith in their families — so we have to say, ‘back to the catacombs!’
“Even in the official church, the faithful are more and more controlled. On the top of the church they tell you to destroy the crosses, inside the church, they put the image of Xi Jinping—maybe not in the center, but in some place. Now they have to have the flag in the church, they have to sing the national anthem.
“People under 18 years of age are not allowed into churches, not allowed in any religious activity. Christmas is forbidden, in the whole country. Even the bible should be re-translated, according to the Communist orthodoxy. So now we see more and more control on the Church, and there is a really a universal lamentation in the whole Church.
“Now, I cannot contact directly anybody in China – it’s too dangerous for them. But sometimes people can come to Hong Kong, to see me and they cry, they say ‘what can we do?’ I say ‘What can I do for you? I can do nothing. I have no voice in the Vatican, simply none.