A Chinese underground bishop has boycotted his retirement Mass, after refusing to step down after last September’s Sino-Vatican provisional agreement.
Shantou Bishop Peter Zhuang Jianjian, 88, attended the retirement ceremony but not the Mass, held on 22 January at Hepo Catholic Church in Jieyang City, Shantou. The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Joseph Huang Bingzhang, 52, who was previously excommunicated but is now recognised by the Vatican after the provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops.
Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, Emeritus Bishop of Hong Kong (87), commented that, “there has been no merger between the Catholic Patriotic Association and the underground church” but “the communists are taking advantage of the confusion to try to force Catholics to join”.
Last Monday, in the United States, Cardinal Zen was awarded the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom, given by the Washington-based Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. In a forthcoming book, For Love of My People I Will Not Remain Silent, Cardinal Zen proposes returning to the 2007 Letter of Pope Benedict XVI to the Church in China for guidance on how to handle Vatican-China relations. In the book, Zen has kind words for Pope Francis as “a man full of love” with “great compassion for the poor and the weak,” though he notes that he has “a lot of sympathy” for communists. He accuses the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, of hiding from the Pope “the horrible face of Chinese Communism”.