A deal between the Chinese government and the Vatican giving the Chinese government power over the Catholic Church in China would be a betrayal of the church's underground faithful, Joseph Zen, the retired bishop of Hong Kong, has warned Pope Francis.
"We are very much worried because it seems that the Vatican is going to make a very bad agreement with China," Zen told LifeSiteNews. "I can understand that the pope is really naïve. He doesn't know the Chinese communists."
He is also concerned that the pope could be misinformed about the situation China's underground Catholics face.
"Unfortunately, the people around him are not good at all,"They have very wrong ideas. And I'm afraid that they may sell out our underground Church. That would be very sad," Zen added.
Zen said he has been urged to speak out against a deal with the Vatican, as already, priests and bishops have faced imprisonment for refusing to submit to the state-sponsored church.
If a deal is reached, the Chinese government could nominate bishops, meaning the Vatican accepts the government's role in the church, which would be granting "total surrender" to China, said Zen.
It would also mean giving "too much decision power to the government" while sacrificing church principles, said Zen, as the pope would only be able to approve Chinese bishops already vetted by the nation's communist powers.
"They don’t have much public voice, the underground," Zen told LifeSiteNews in the exclusive interview. "People who come from China to see me, they all say, 'please, you must raise your voice. We cannot say anything' because they have no freedom to talk. So I keep talking, but it seems that they [the Holy See] don’t listen. They don’t like to listen."
Further there are Holy See officials who think the underground church members are "troublemakers."
Zen said he did meet with Pope Francis two years ago, and that the pontiff listened to him carefully and "seemed to be very much agreeing with me," so he does not know what will eventually happen.
"The thing we can do is to pray," said Zen. "We believe in the power of prayer."
The church has resisted tyrannical government involvement for centuries, critics of the possible deal say, and if the Vatican makes its deal with China, it could be remembered poorly, critics say.
"I have the principle that I would never publicly criticize the Holy Father," Zen said, promising to remain silent if a deal is made, while publicly opposing the matter until it happens.
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