China is in the news again. This time it's not our embarrassment of a Vice President telling the Chinese that he "fully understands" their forced-abortion policy. Now it's the government persecuting the Church. While Biden was kowtowing to the Communists, the government was rounding up a couple dozen Catholics, including priests. Their crime is refusing to join the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA), the Communist run imitation of the Catholic Church.
It's not an easy matter to save one's soul in China. Take a good look at James Su Zhimin, bishop of Baoding, pictured above. The bishop disappeared in the hands of the police in 1997 and was spotted only once since then, in a hospital in 2003. He was previously jailed at least 5 times by the Chinese Government. He spent a total of about 20 years in jail. He was once beaten so savagely that he suffered extensive loss of hearing. If he is still alive, he continues to suffer cruel torments from his captors. Realize that he is able to free himself at any moment simply by agreeing to join the CCPA. Yet he remains in torment. This is the price of his salvation.
Holy Bishop Zhimin had a coadjutor bishop, Francis An Shuxin. Shuxin apparently misread Pope Benedict's 2007 letter exhorting cooperation with the government, for in 2009 he joined the CCPA. In 2010, he was named Bishop of Baoding by the CCPA. He didn't dare say a word about his former friend, the true bishop of Baoding, languishing in prison. This is the price of his salvation.
Is it possible that both bishops are doing the will of God? Could it be that the CCPA and the underground Church are both Catholic? To hear the Vatican, you might think so. In 2003, Cardinal Etchegaray, former president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, had this to say: "There is not one "patriotic" Church and one "underground" Church, one legal and the other protesting. Rather, he said, the different groups constitute "two faces of the same community, which seeks to be both faithful and at the same time patriotic." But words aren't the half of it. Pope Benedict has gone so far as to cooperate with the Chinese government in approving bishops for the CCPA.
As we can see, this appeasement is backfiring. As noted above, the Communists are arresting Catholics. Many priests have been arrested this year, see here and here. There have been more episcopal consecrations against the will of Rome, too.
One Cardinal, Joseph Zen, has been outspoken in his admonitions against cooperation with the government. As Asia News summrized the Cardinal:
"The Church in China is in a 'disastrous state' because of the harshness of the regime, but also because a 'triumvirate' (the Prefect of Propaganda Fide, one of his minions, and Fr Jeroom Heyndrickx, a Scheut missionary and one of their counsellors) which continues to push the Vatican to compromise with the Chinese regime, modelled on Card. Casaroli’s Ostpolitik."
In the recent newsletter of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, Joseph Kung reports that "Zen gave an even more forceful overview on April 7 with EWTN. The Vatican policy, he said, has 'frustrated the underground Church,' which has been made to feel 'inconvenient' and 'forsaken.'” Kung further quotes his own uncle, Cardinal Ignatius Kung, of happy memory, who spent more than 30 years in Communist prisons. In 2000,the cardinal said without hesitation, “The PA is a schismatic Church.” The cardinal believed that the CCPA was outside the only way of salvation.
Is Cardinal Kung right about the CCPA, or are there two ways to save your soul in China? One way is to cooperate with the government, while the other is to suffer the wrath of the government? One way is comfortable, while the other is living hell? I think the answer is obvious. Pray that Pope Benedict stops pretending that the CCPA is Catholic, but rather, that he would lead those unfortunate souls back to the true Church.