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Hong Kong Roman Catholic Cardinal Slams Beijing

By Jeremy Reynalds

Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

2/11/07 China (Assist News Service) Cardinal Joseph Zen told Britain ‘s British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) the ordinations last year of three bishops without Vatican approval were “illegitimate” and “acts of war.”

The BBC reported (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6347275.stm) that as Zen returned from a trip to Rome he said Beijing ‘s refusal to recognize the Vatican ‘s authority has overturned two decades of compromise efforts.

Pope Benedict XVI is due to make his position clear in the coming months.

While China refuses to recognize the Vatican ‘s authority over Chinese Catholics, the BBC reported that until the three ordinations in 2006 bishops were chosen after unofficial consultations with Rome . According to the BBC there are about four million Catholics in state churches with millions more in organizations loyal to Rome .

Outspoken

Returning from his latest trip to the Vatican , the cardinal said China was waging an undeclared war against Catholics.

“These three illegitimate ordinations… are acts of war against the church,” the BBC reported Zen said. “So how can you say that we opt for confrontation? They are waging a war, they want to destroy the church.”

The cardinal has been a long-time defender of human rights and religious freedom. However, the BBC reported that Zen did not say if his own strong views would be reflected in the letter expected from the Pope by early April. The letter was promised after a Vatican meeting held in late Jan. attended by Zen.

According to the BBC Zen has previously said he would be willing to resign from his position to assist the Vatican in establishing ties with China .