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Vatican tones down Good Friday service to avoid upsetting China

ICC Note:

Cardinal Joseph Zen Se-kiun, the Archbishop of Hong Kong charged with formulating the meditations for the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession, has announced that he has “toned down” the message to keep from upsetting relations with China.


3/20/08 China (TimesOnline) Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, the Archbishop of Hong Kong and a noted critic of Beijing, has “toned down” his meditations for tomorrow’s Good Friday torch lit ceremony at the Colosseum in order not to upset the “sensitive” dialogue between the Holy See and China, it was reported in Rome today.

Cardinal Zen told Vatican Radio he aimed to reflect the plight of China’s Catholics and “the sufferings the Church still endures in China today”. He would draw attention to “the martyrdom to which my people has been subjected for being Christian. Many suffer for the faith. And now there is a harmony between the Passion of the Lord and the passion of my people.”

However the published text of the Via Crucis meditations contains no such references. Instead there are general references to “the martyrs of the twenty first century”, the “dark times of persecution” faced by many Christians in the world, and the need for “religious freedom”.

The Vatican and China have been at odds since the 1950s when the Communist authorities closed down the Catholic Church and set up its own “Patriotic Catholic Association” with the right to appoint bishops.

China’s Catholic minority, estimated to number up to 12 million, is split between those who belong to the Patriotic Association and those who follow the “underground” church loyal to the Pope.

Cardinal Zen said that “during the writing of the meditations, I placed myself, at first, on the side of Jesus and my persecuted brothers, and I experienced sentiments that were not very Christian toward their persecutors. But at one point I realized that, because of my infidelities, I deserve rather to be part of the group of deserters, betrayers, of the persecutors. I hope that all of us experience this conversion.”

He said he had to step back and purify himself of the “less than charitable feelings” he had toward those who made Jesus suffer and who “are making our brothers and sisters suffer in today’s world.”

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