Vatican Confirms Chinese Nominated Bishops Not Legitimate

VATICAN CITY, May 4, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse © 2000) The Roman Catholic Church can only recognize bishops nominated by the pope, not those named independently by Chinese authorities, the Vatican said Wednesday on the 50th anniversary of Vatican Radio in China.

"No human power can hope to change the constitution of the Catholic Church based on Peter," said Cardinal Jozef Tomko, the Vatican's prefect of the congregation for evangelization, in a special anniversary mass.

This does not mean that the Church "wants to replace political powers or intervene in their domain," the Slovak priest added.

Beijing has always accused the Vatican of interfering in China's internal affairs by retaining the power to nominate the country's bishops.

"Only bishops united with the successor of Peter are the legitimate pastors of the Catholic Church all round the world and no authority, institution or association can take over this function," Cardinal Tomko added.

The priest evoked the "suffering" of China's Catholics who have remained loyal to the pope over the last 50 years and called on Chinese Catholics to stay loyal to the Vatican.

The Catholic Church has been present in China since the year 635, and there are around 10 million believers in the country, according to the Vatican's news agency Fides.

Four million of those follow China's "patriotic Church" which broke from the Vatican in 1957, Fides estimates.

In Beijing, there are thought to be over 10 million clandestine Catholics, who continue to be loyal to the Vatican.

Beijing named the first autonomous bishops in 1958 a year after the Patriotic Association of Chinese Catholics was founded in Shanghai.

At present, there are 70 bishops recognized by the Chinese authorities against 60 belonging to the "Church of silence" maintaining their ties with the Vatican.

In October, the pope is to canonize 120 Chinese martyrs of anti-Catholic persecution during the last four centuries.

Beijing has criticized the canonization plans which coincide with the 51st anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China by Mao Tse Tung.

In 1950, Vatican Radio launched a weekly 15-minute program for China. Since 1980, the short-wave radio station has been transmitting 14 weekly programs, each 25 minutes long.

Two years ago, the Vatican's Fides agency opened Mandarin language webpages on its Internet site ( which receive over 5,000 Internet visitors per week, mostly from mainland China, according to Fides. ((c) 2000 Agence France Presse)

November 1994


This past September 8, Pope John Paul II issued a letter (which received little notice in the media- including the Catholic press) directed to "All the Catholic sons and daughters of the great and illustrious Chinese family." In it he stressed: "I am especially close to those who have remained faithful to Jesus Christ and to His Church in the midst of difficulties of all kinds, and continue to testify, even at the cost of deep and prolonged suffering, that the principle of communion with the Successor of Peter... cannot be renounced by a Catholic who desires to remain such and to be recognized as such."

Clearly this was no message of concession, modification, rapprochement or mediation. It was addressed to the more than 8 million faithful Catholics in the "underground Church" of Red China telling them their sacrifices for the faith and the Church remain an inspiration; to hold strong and unyielding.

Chinese underground Catholics will do just that. But elsewhere Catholics in the non-Communist world are falling for a clever hoax that religious freedom is being revived "as the Church in China emerges from the dark night of more than three decades of Communist persecution" to quote the nation's oldest diocesan newspaper, The Pilot of Boston, 3/4/94.

By the "Church of China," the paper meant-but didn't say -the so-called Communist-directed Patriotic Church which hasn't emerged at all. It was created in the 1950's by the Religious Bureau of the Chinese Communist party and has always been in good standing because it parrots the official Party line: In particular a "Catholic" church with no ties to the Holy See; acceptance and promotion of official government policy (including persecution of the underground Church); and a new ruse: implying actual Vatican approval of the Communist Patriotic Church.

Here is a perfect example how Patriotic Church lackeys operate. In 1988 Rome issued an advisory to the world bishops on their relationships with the Communist-directed "Chinese Catholic" officials, including forbidding Roman Catholics priests to concelebrate Mass with patriotic association clergy. For what happened next, we turn to the Autumn 1994 newsletter of The Cardinal Kung Foundation named in honor of His Eminence Ignatius Cardinal Kung, Bishop of Shanghai:


Recently, someone issued "Eight Directives" in Chinese giving a new interpretation and contradicting the 1988 advisory. In this false document, claim was made that it was issued from the Vatican through the Papal Representative in Hong Kong. The Papal Representative in Hong Kong has categorically denied that he ever issued it. This false document said that joining the Patriotic Association, accepting their priests and Bishops, and using their facilities are permitted under the current situation. The document said that since the Vatican did not openly condemn the Patriotic Association, it has, in essence approved it.

According to Shanghai Catholics, the Patriotic Association appointed bishop of Shanghai, Aloysius Jin, has printed a large number of copies of this fake document and distributed them throughout China with many Patriotic Church bishops organizing classes to teach the fraudulent "Eight Directives" line. This is the same "Bishop" Jin who has also set-up his own real estate company to systematically sell or commercially redevelop properties belonging to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shanghai and religious orders all confiscated by the Communists.

The ease with which the Patriotic Association has been able to sell its propaganda to gullible Catholics around the world is truly amazing. A good example appeared in the June 12, 1994 Our Sunday Visitor--one of the most popular religion-oriented weeklies in the U.S. Reporting that Archbishop Roger Vangheluwe of Bruges, Belgium had recently concelebrated Holy Mass with fifteen visiting Communist Chinese Patriotic priests-clearly contrary to the 1988 Vatican advisory-the Visitor guessed that "the Archbishop of Bruges would not have allowed the priests to concelebrate with him if he did not have approval from Rome."

Did Rome really approve of this reversal of its 1988 advisory? The Visitor didn't ask or even suggest that the Archbishop of Bruges might have decided on his own to ignore the Vatican's directives. It happens.

And it is happening more and more often that the schismatic patriotic church is deceiving well-meaning Catholics. Some examples: A highly-respected Catholic relief organization known for its good work in the former Soviet satellite nations some months ago gave the Patriotic Association of China $32,000 to print bibles and breviaries-their contents altered to omit Communist non-approved teachings such as papal supremacy. According to the publication 30 Days (Issue 5, 1994) $4.7 million has been contributed to the Patriotic Association recently by such Catholic religious communities as Maryknoll, Italian PIME, Jesuits, Franciscans Missio, Misereror, the French Missions de Paris, the Belgians of Scheut and others.

As for the underground Church-said 30 Days-it "was left with nothing."

Seminarians from the Communist Patriotic Association are being instructed in at least ten leading U.S. seminaries; "they will return to the land of their birth to train the next generation of Catholic priests (and) some may eventually lead their own dioceses as bishops", according to The Pilot of Boston (March 4, 1994). How this latter development came about is chronicled in the paper under the headline: CAMBRIDGE MARYKNOLLER MOVES CHINESE CHURCH FROM CATACOMBS. It involves one Father Flynn who left the Maryknoll order as a young man, "to pursue a career as an English teacher and returned to the mission in middle age." Although the Patriotic Church has never been persecuted, because it is controlled by the Communist Party, here is how The Pilot tells the story:


While China remains a socialist country, the liberal reform movement of the 1980s softened official opposition to religion. In 1989, after much sensitive negotiation, Father Flynn secured permission to teach English- mandatory at all Chinese secondary schools and colleges-at the Teacher's College in Suzhou, a city of 800,000, an hour by train northwest of Shanghai. He was soon celebrating Mass at the Bishop's residence and then at the nearby Church of Our Lady of Sorrows.

After a year at Suzhou, Shanghai's Bishop Aloysius Jin... invited Father Flynn to teach English to the seminary's 150 students. A teaching post at Peking University Medical School in 1991 rewarded his careful diplomacy, and soon he was teaching evenings at Bejing's National Catholic Seminary. Finally, he secured official approval for Chinese seminarians to come to the U.S. to study.


When asked how Communist Patriotic seminarians-contrary to the Vatican 1988 advisory-are permitted entry at Roman Catholic seminaries in the U.S., as his paper reported, the editor of The Pilot responds: It was my impression then, and remains my impression, that these students are here with the approbation of the Holy See. I must also assume that Father Flynn, the Maryknoll priest, is carrying out his duties with the similar approval of his religious superiors as well as the Holy See.

Strangely, however, no one will reveal the identity of anyone in Rome who gave permission for Shanghai's Real Estate Patriotic "Bishop" Jin and Maryknoll to circumvent Vatican directives on the Patriotic Association. Given the Holy Father's September 8 letter reaffirming the Church's staunch support of the underground Church, the likelihood of such an authority ever surfacing remains slim indeed.

Back on June 4, 1989-when The Pilot's Maryknoll Father Flynn was beginning his "careful diplomacy" with Patriotic "Bishop" Jin-ABC television aired a glowing documentary on the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association produced by the U.S. Catholic Conference's Office of Communications. Only at the end of the program was there a short interview with a Chinese underground bishop loyal to the Church. And he was dismissed as a sincere but backward patriarch.

No similar TV program has ever been produced about the Catholic underground Church of China, although an estimated 95 percent of the country's 8 million Catholics remain loyal and persecuted members. But, an opportunity exists for ABC television and the U.S. Catholic Conference to prepare now to do that in May 1995.

There are two famous Marian Shrines in China. One is the national shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Sheshan in Shanghai controlled by "Bishop" Jin's Patriotic Association; the other is dedicated to Our Lady of Dong Lu in Hubei, where thousands of underground Catholics come to pray twenty-four- hours-a-day, during the entire month of May, in honor of the Blessed Mother. They will be there in May 1995 at Dong Lu in Hubei as usual, if TV documentary filmmakers are willing to present a true view of the real Catholic Church in China.

From underground Catholic Chinese sources, this is what TV crews and the USCC's Communications office would have discovered had they set-up their video cameras in Hubei this past May:


All roads leading to Dong Lu were cut off by the communist government, as well as tickets for all modes of transportation to the shrine and its neighboring towns. Only those whom authorities identified as non-Catholic were given permission to visit the area during the month of May. Yet, travelers from all over the country converged on Hubei. Many walked or biked day and night for hundreds of miles. Cars and trucks drove on little known paths to avoid government troops.

On May 24, the most important east day of Mary in China, over 50,000 pilgrims knelt in drizzling rain in an open field- the underground Church has no basilica, cathedral or even a church in Hubei. At 8 A.M the procession for Holy Mass began. Four bishops of the faithful Catholic Church and 120 priests, arriving from underground dioceses all over China, moved forward in cortege. Following were over a hundred seminarians; 200 nuns; deacons, and young acolytes. Leading the procession was His Excellency Bishop Su Chi-Min, auxiliary bishop of Baoding.

As they moved slowly across the farmland and pasture, the drizzling rain became a steady, hard downpour. Pilgrims rushed forward with whatever protection they had available -plastic vinyl sheeting, a few umbrellas, cardboard boxes- to cover their underground bishops, priests and religious. To no avail, everyone was soaked-but, "soaked in the love of Mary and in the grace of God" one participant later remarked. Kneeling in mud, 50,000 Chinese underground Catholics on May 24, 1994, sang hymns, prayed, wept, and touched their rosaries to the image of Mary at the shrine of Hubei.

No persecution could crush us, says a seminarian named Wen Xiu, age 23. No rain could dampen their spirits.


This is the true face of Catholic China. Yet the false Patriotic Association is treated by many in the West, and elsewhere, as if it were reviving the faith crushed by Communism for decades. In truth it is engaged in typical Communist deception.

Traveling each year to the U.S. and other free world nations, Patriotic bishops, priests and seminarians assure their overseas benefactors they are "loyal to the Holy Father in their hearts." Yet back home, these same people actively advocate "independence and separation from the Pope."

That is how such Patriotic bishops as Zong Huaide, Jin Luxian, Fu Teshan, Cai Tiyuan and others are able to collect millions of dollars in donations in the West. All have proclaimed "intimate union" with the Holy See on their trips abroad, but back in China these bishops are officers of the Patriotic Association and its Bishops' conference which declares separation on their church from the Pope.

Why have church leaders in the free world been so deceived? Here is an explanation from the Cardinal Kung Foundation newsletter.


Many church leaders in the free world appeared to have been convinced that kindness and friendship to the Communist government-sanctioned Patriotic Association would bring about unity between the loyal Church and the Patriotic Association and eventually the freedom of worship in China. Unfortunately, over ten years of active open support to the Patriotic Bishops from Church leaders has failed to achieve this "unity". The support misguidedly gave the Patriotic Bishops and the Communist government an impression that if they wait long enough, the Church leaders would accept them under any terms, with or without the principles of Papal Supremacy.


Meanwhile as the publication <30 Days> points out: "Financial relief from abroad ultimately widens the gap between them (Patriotic Association and the loyal clandestine Church)."

Chinese Catholics would rather kneel in the mud in a field celebrating Mass than in some new White Elephant of a church approved by the Communist government and placed in the hands of a Patriotic Association bishop.

What you can do:


* Remember the persecuted Chinese Catholics in your prayers and Masses. Once a month say the Stations of the Cross, daily or often the Rosary, for the faithful bishops and priests in China suffering their own Way of the Cross.

* Be wary of any special Mass collection for "the Church of China". If you or your parish would like to support the training of a Chinese seminarian faithful to the Holy Father, please write for information to The Cardinal Kung Foundation, P.O. Box 8086, Ridgeway Center, Stamford, CT 06905.

* Write to the U.S. Catholic Conference's Office of Communications suggesting a documentary on the underground Catholic Church in China and its heroic Catholic faithful. Address: Office of Film & Broadcasting, USCC, 3211 Fourth St., N.E., Washington, D.C. 20017.

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