The Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association
There is a story in the Book of St. John, Chapter 9 about a blind man. Our Lord Jesus performed a miracle on him by restoring his sight. The message was not that he was blinded in punishment for his sins, but rather in his miraculous cure the glory of God might be manifested in him.
The persecution of the Roman Catholic Church in China is akin to this story of the blind man.
Similar to the story, this persecution is not a punishment for the Roman Catholic Church in China. Rather, in the underground church's miraculous survival, God's power might be seen at work in the Church in China.
The Chinese government tried very hard in the early 1950's to break down the faith of the Roman Catholic Church. But, it failed. As a result, the government created its own religious organization called the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.
While we pray for the eventual true unity of the Patriotic Association with the mother Church, let us not lose sight of the fact that the Patriotic Association in the present form is not the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
What Is The Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association?
1. Patriotic Association's Goals and Its Ramifications
Bishop Andrew Tsien, Bishop of Hualian, Taiwan, explained that the objectives of the Patriotic Association are:
Short term: To substitute it for the true Roman Catholic church.
Long term: To eliminate religion in order to achieve a pure materialistic and autocratic society.
In his remark on the pastoral letter on women issued by the Patriotic Association's Bishops Conference, Rev. Matthias Lu, Ph.D., S.TH.L., Director of the St. Thomas Aquinas Center in California, wrote:
"Its (the Patriotic Association's) commitment is to manipulate the mass of the Catholic population in order to integrate them into the Socialist revolutionary movement by submitting them to the leadership of the Communist Party in all things."
To accomplish this goal over the past 45 years, the Chinese government put tens of thousands of Roman Catholic faithful in jail for 10, 20, 30 or more years. Thousands perished in jail. Many were shot in public. All foreign missionaries were banished. As you are painfully aware, this persecution continues even today.
Like the blind man, the Roman Catholic Church in China suffered. History teaches us that from suffering good often eventually emerges. We believe that because God is on our side and because the Catholic faith in China has been so firmly and deeply rooted, the suffering endured since 1949 has not weaken the Roman Catholic population in China, but has increased it from three million faithful then to over eight million now. This is clearly the work of God.
In view of the above statistics, the objective of replacing the Roman Catholic Church with the Patriotic Association has clearly failed so far.
2. The Persecution Before the Patriotic Association's Creation
The Communists took power in 1949. By 1953, many Chinese priests and lay persons were arrested and dying in jail. Bishop Kung, now a Cardinal, was appointed a bishop by the Holy Father in 1949 after the Communists took power in China. He was repeatedly asked by the government to lend his respectability to the Patriotic Association movement by denouncing the Holy Father. His reply was simple.
"I am a Roman Catholic bishop. If I denounce the Holy Father, not only would I not be a bishop, I would not even be a Catholic. You can cut off my head, but you can never take away my duties."
Bishop Kung, together with several hundred Catholic leaders and priests, were arrested simultaneously on September 8, 1955. Elsewhere, prelates together with their religious and faithful were arrested en masse. For instance, the late Archbishop Dominic Tang, Archbishop of Canton (now called Guangzhou), was imprisoned for 22 years until he became seriously ill with cancer and needed an operation. The late Bishop Peter Joseph Fan, Bishop of Baoding in the province of Hebei, was imprisoned for 34 years, was tortured and died in prison. The list of martyrs is long.
The redemptive value of their sufferings and the resultant benefits to the universal church must be enormous.
3. The Creation of The Patriotic Association And Its Aftermath. The Beginning of The Underground Roman Catholic Church
In 1957, the Patriotic Association was officially established by an atheistic Chinese communist government. In contrast to the Patriotic Association, the true Catholic church was created by Christ almost 2000 years ago. The good news was brought to China by missionaries about 700 years ago.
As soon as the Patriotic Association was established, all properties of the Roman Catholic Church were confiscated. Later, as China opened up, many of the churches and other properties were transferred to the Patriotic Association, keeping the loyal Roman Catholic church penniless.
Foreign Catholic visitors to China often visit these reopened churches. These churches look Catholic. The priests dress like Catholic priests. Even their prayers sound Catholic. But they are not Catholic. They all belong to the Patriotic Association.
Rev. Matthias Lu, Ph.D., S.TH.L. made the following comment on the Patriotic Association's Bishops Conference pastoral letter:
"Whatever the CCPA (Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association) does under a religious guise can never be truly religious. It is a show put on to mislead...It is not a part of the Body of Christ...The sweeter and holier its prayers and preaching sound, the more deceitful they are."
Behind the seemingly serene and pious scenes in these churches are the continuous suppression, often brutal persecution, of the eight million Roman Catholics loyal to the Pope. They are known as the underground Roman Catholics.
4. The Roman Catholic Church's Position on the Patriotic Association. It Is Not Catholic. It Is Uncanonical.
4a. Patriotic Association Is Not Catholic: The most important tenet in the constitution of the Patriotic Association is its autonomy from the Pope. It does not recognize the supreme administrative, legislative and judicial authority of the Pope regardless of the fact that its members publicly professed their "loyalty" to His Holiness. This autonomy is the fundamental divergence of theology between the Patriotic Association and the Roman Catholic Church.
Theology 101 teaches us clearly that no one can possibly claim communion with the Pope and with the universal church while simultaneously denying the administrative, legislative, and judicial authority of the Roman Pontiff. Inasmuch as the Patriotic Association refuses to recognize the Pope's authority as stated in their constitution, it could not possibly be in communion with the Pope. Without such communion, the Patriotic Association could not possibly be a Roman Catholic institution.
About three years before the establishment of the Patriotic Association, His Holiness Pius XII wrote with great foresight on the subject of autonomy in his encyclical "Ad Sinarum Gentem" October 1954:
"...It is absolutely necessary that the Christian community in your land (China), if it wishes to be part of the society divinely established by Our Redeemer, be subject in all things to the Sovereign Pontiff, the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth...This movement (autonomy) seeks... either to deceive the simple and timid, or to turn them aside from the right path...But in fact, to come to the point, they are striving by every means in their power to establish among you a 'national' Church...this church (the Patriotic Association), if it should come into being, would no longer be Catholic, since it would be the negation of that universality, or 'catholicity', which makes the true society founded by Jesus Christ above all Nations, and able to embrace all and each one.
Thirty-four years later in 1988, the Holy See issued an advisory to the world's bishops that those who do not profess or do not preserve the communion with the Pope cannot consider themselves to be Catholic.
This position was repeated in a letter to the Chinese faithful in September, 1994 by Pope John Paul II. Most recently, the Pope stated again during the World Youth Day celebrations in Manila in January 1995.
"A Catholic who wishes to remain such and to be recognized as such cannot reject the principle of communion with the successor of Peter."
Pope John Paul II clearly referred to the Patriotic Association. In essence, His Holiness said that as long as the Patriotic Association denies the supreme administrative, legislative, and judicial authority of the Holy Father, it cannot be considered a Roman Catholic Church.
In December, 1994, the underground bishops' conference in China issued a pastoral letter. In it, the loyal bishops called the world's attention to the fact that the Patriotic Association is not a Catholic Church. The clergy of the universal Church was advised not to participate in sacramental communion with the Patriotic Association clergy.
The Popes have spoken. The loyal bishops of China have articulated it. They have all said that the Patriotic Association is not the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, because they do not recognize the supreme authority of the Roman Pontiff and are not in communion with Him. This is the most important characteristic of the Patriotic Association.
4b. The Patriotic Association Is Uncanonical
Canon Law Section 751 states:
"..Schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him."
We have discussed repeatedly that the Patriotic Association refused its submission to the Roman Pontiff by not recognizing the three supreme authorities of His Holiness. The above Canon Law speaks amply for the Patriotic Association.
5. Organization Structure of the Patriotic Association
The Patriotic Association reports to the National Congress of Catholic Representatives while the loyal Catholic Church in China reports to the Pope, the successor of St. Peter.
In an attempt to cover its political agenda and to make it appear like a religious organization, the Patriotic Association established in 1980 "The Chinese Bishop's Conference" and "The Chinese Catholic Religious Affairs Commission".
In 1992, the above three organizations were combined into the "China Catholic Bishops' College" and "The Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association". They both report to the "National Congress".
The chain of Command in the Patriotic Association is akin to the following structure:
1) The faithful listen to the priest.
2) The priests obey their bishop.
3) The bishops answer to the "National Congress".
Then, to whom would the "National Congress" report? Who gives such authority to the "National Congress"?
Commenting on the above reporting relationship of the Patriotic Association, the loyal Roman Catholic bishops said in their pastoral letter issued in December 1994:
"Christ has never so taught. None of the Catholic theologians have ever so taught. The history of the Catholic Church has never so taught. The 'authority' of the 'National Congress' must be an unprecedented, great discovery of China's 'wise man' "
6. The Advantage of Using "Catholic" by the Patriotic Association
During the reorganization of the Patriotic Association, a subtle but important change took place. In 1989, "The Chinese Bishop's Conference" was without the word "Catholic". Therefore, when the Patriotic Association bishops traveled outside of China, they had to identify themselves as the bishops from the Patriotic Association which does not have the desirable marketing effect. Rather, their identification with the Patriotic Association placed many people on guard. Most people hesitated to work with a Communist church.
However, after the Patriotic Association adopted the new title of the "China Catholic Bishops' College" in 1992, its efforts improved significantly. They took full advantage of this word "Catholic". Patriotic Association members now introduced themselves as Catholic priests or Catholic bishops without ever having to disclose that they are members of the Patriotic Association with no ties to the Vatican.
This deceptive change in terminology produced predictable results. Since then, numerous articles have appeared in the media, including diocesan newspapers, about the "Catholic Church in China". These articles were, in fact, describing the Patriotic Association Church without even mentioning it by name. Patriotic Association priests and bishops, masquerading as bona fide Catholic clerics, traveled around the world and solicited donations. According to 30 DAYS, misinformed Catholic institutions donated $4.7 million while the underground loyal bishops were left with nothing. Because the loyal bishops are not allowed to travel outside of China and their freedom of expression is prohibited within China, they have not been able to communicate their desperate conditions to you.
In the universal church, all religious organizations working in a diocese must receive the approval from the Ordinary of that diocese. However, many missionaries, in recent years, returned to China and started various charitable projects at the invitation of and operating under the supervision of the Patriotic Association and the communist government. They do not work with the underground loyal bishops. This arrangement is contrary to the practice in the universal church. Therefore, when you receive requests from these organizations for donations to the "Chinese Catholic Church", please determine whether the solicitor of the gift is seeking funds for projects in cooperation with the Patriotic Association or for the loyal Roman Catholic Church.
7. Patriotic Association's Fidelity, Loyalty and Allegiance to the Pope
In order to receive millions of dollars of donations from Roman Catholic institutions, the Patriotic Association's bishops must convince their overseas benefactors of their fidelity to the Roman Catholic Church. To do so, the Patriotic Association bishops such as Zong Huaide, Jin Luxian, Fu Teshan and others never fail to proclaim their "loyalty" to the Pope "IN THEIR HEARTS". The benefactors, however, were not made aware that these bishops are also officers of the Patriotic Association and officers of the "China Catholic Bishops college". As such, they have the fundamental duty to defend the current constitution of these two organizations. The most important tenet of these two constitutions is the autonomy of the Patriotic Association from the Pope!
The Patriotic Association operates independently of the Holy See. Its bishops and priests do not recognize the supreme jurisdiction of the Pope. They are neither in communion with the Pope, nor are they in communion with the universal church. Openly they profess loyalty, but their actions speak louder than words. For example, when His Holiness announced in 1981 the elevation of Bishop Dominic Tang, S.J. to Archbishop, the Patriotic Bishop of Canton and other Patriotic Association bishops denounced the Holy Father and Archbishop Tang. History repeats itself ten years later. In 1991, Holy Father announced the elevation of Bishop Kung to the College of Cardinals. Patriotic Bishop Jin of Shanghai, together with other Patriotic Association Bishops, strongly protested and publicly accused the Holy Father of meddling in the internal affairs of China and thereby splitting the Catholic Church in China. They further accused Cardinal Kung of sinning against the Church and the country. Such belligerence exemplifies the true face of these Patriotic Association bishops.
Since the Patriotic Association bishops report directly to the Communist government, Roman Catholic bishops elsewhere in the world friendly to these Patriotic Association bishops should ask them of the steps being taken to persuade their government that the ongoing persecution of faithful bishops, priests and lay persons of the Roman Catholic Church is evil and a gross violation of human rights. Surely, the Patriotic Association must realize that this terrible persecution in China is causing much grief to the Holy Father. If they are truly loyal to the Holy Father, as they profess to be, the world is waiting to hear what practical steps the Patriotic Association bishops are taking to redress the evil which many faithful Roman Catholics in China are suffering.
8. Middle of the Roaders
Many of our Chinese brothers and sisters, who, unfortunately, in the face of adversity, have weakened and wavered in their Catholic faith, chose to deny the supremacy of the Holy Father and followed the Patriotic Association. They may attend the rites of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, but are not necessarily staunch Patriotic Association members. They recognize the Holy Father as the supreme authority of the Church in the heart, but lack the courage to declare it. Due to fear, physical security, financial advantage, educational and career opportunities, privilege, or ignorance, they compromised their faith by accepting the leadership of the Patriotic Association rather than their Vatican appointed Bishops. They are the "middle of the roaders".
9. Patriotic Association Priests Administer Sacraments In The U. S.
A major diocese in the United States had granted faculties to four Patriotic Association priests. They are allowed to offer Holy Mass and administer other Sacraments openly. In response to this disturbing trend, Rev. Matthias Lu said again:
"Its (Patriotic Association's) orders of Priesthood and Episcopacy can neither be licit nor valid. According to its corporate nature, it is not a part of the Body of Christ, and, without Christ, it can do nothing licit or valid. Being contrary to the intention of Christ and his Church, the CCPA (Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association) performs sacramental rites in vain. Its sacraments are null and sacrilegious."
We know that these Patriotic Association priests report directly to their self-appointed Patriotic Association illegitimate bishops who had publicly declared many times their autonomy from the Pope. After these priests complete their studies, they will return to their Patriotic Association bishops. I wonder how you would feel if one or more of these Patriotic Association priests were assigned to your own parish? Moreover, there are approximately fifty Patriotic Association seminarians and priests studying in various seminaries in the United States. They are largely supported by your dioceses; or in another words, supported by your donations to your dioceses.
There is no doubt that Patriotic Association priests functioning in a Roman Catholic church in the United States and Patriotic Association seminarians and priests studying in the United States seminaries will present an erroneous perception that the Holy Father accepts the Patriotic Association. In addition, these actions will cause much confusion in the universal Church and grave pain to the loyal Chinese Catholics while the Patriotic Association continues not only to promote their agenda of independence from the Pope but also to support the evil agenda of the totalitarian communist regime such as compulsory abortion of children in families where one child already exists.
10. Appointing and Consecrating the Bishop - A Contrast
In the universal Roman Catholic Church, the bishop is appointed by the Supreme Pontiff. Under no circumstances the right of appointing bishops is conceded to civil authorities. Having been appointed, the bishop will make the profession of faith and take the oath of fidelity to the Apostolic see before taking canonical possession of his office.
In contrast, the Bishops of the Patriotic Association are not appointed by the Supreme Pontiff. They are nominated, elected and supervised by the government and the Patriotic Association's representatives of the Catholics without the approval of the Holy See. Before assuming office, the new bishop swears to observe the Constitution. One of the most important tenants of the Constitution is the principles of autonomy from the Holy See. The communion with the Roman Pontiff is not mentioned.
These Patriotic Association Bishops support the "one child, one family" policy of China because they said that they should comply with the law of the country. Even an unjust law?
11. Cannon Law: Appointment of Bishops Without Holy See's Approval
As explained above, all Patriotic Association bishops are appointed and consecrated without the permission of the Pope. In cannon law jargon, they are consecrated without a pontifical mandate.
The Code of Canon Law of 1917 and the revised code of 1983, section 1382 states:
"A bishop who consecrates someone a bishop and the person who receives such a consecration from a bishop without a pontificate mandate incur an automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See."
Since all the bishops of the Patriotic Association are ordained without a "pontifical mandate" and whose consecrations are "irresponsibly conferred", it does appear that they are all automatically or ipso facto excommunicated, because the Apostolic See has not said otherwise.
However, a small number of Patriotic Association bishops have repented to the Holy Father and have been recognized by the Him. The names of those bishops are kept strictly in confidence by the Holy See. Because of this confidentiality, Roman Catholic organizations who assist and cooperate with the Patriotic Association bishops all justify their action by claiming that these bishops are recognized by the Holy See. Patriotic Association Bishops, in turn, claim that they are one of those recognized bishops in order to gain credibility in the West.
To summarize, below are the five Characteristics of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.
a) The Patriotic Association is not created by Christ. It is created by an atheistic Communist Government.
b) The Patriotic Association is not the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
c) The Patriotic Association does not recognize the supreme administrative, legislative, and judicial authority of the Pope and is autonomous from Him. Consequently, it does not report to the Pope. It reports to the Chinese National Congress of Catholic Representatives.
d) The Patriotic Association is not in communion with the Pope, nor is it in communion with the Universal Church. It is not Catholic.
e) The Patriotic Association appoints and ordains its bishops without the permission of the Pope. This action is specifically prohibited by cannon law. According to Cannon Law, it appears these bishops have all been automatically excommunicated, with the authority of reversal reserved only to the Holy See. A small number of Patriotic Association bishops have been recognized by the Holy See.
Chapter II OBSERVATIONS
A number of Catholic organizations, in their fervor to evangelize China, have fallen victim to the propaganda of the Patriotic Association and their misguided charity. They decided to work with the Patriotic Association on many projects. The underground Roman Catholic Church has not received the same level of benefits.
In this section, we will present the false theories, prompting them to assist the Patriotic Association. In the meantime, we will discuss the effect of their actions and reasons why they are wrong.
FALSE THEORY ONE
Both Sides Have The Same Faith:
Aid to the Church in Need, an international Catholic charity organization, in defending its assistance to the Patriotic Association, said:
"Both (the Patriotic Association and the Roman Catholic Church in China) have...the same Faith... The differences between them are due more to historical events in the 1950s and to differences in the policies of local civil authorities rather than to theological divergences."
Articles in other magazines such as AMERICA, published by the Jesuits of the United States and Canada, also propagate this false theory that the Patriotic Association and Roman Catholic Church have the same faith.
If this analogy were true, one might readily excuse such heresiarchs as Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, and others of his fellow bishops in England during the reign of Henry VIII. When Henry VIII was determined to proclaim himself head of the Catholic Church in England, anyone who refused to take the Oath of Supremacy was tortured and put to death. Most of the English bishops went along, shall we say, because historical events?"
During the reign of Henry, the Catholic liturgy remained outwardly the same. It was not until the reign of the boy king, Edward VI, that Cranmer devised the revised order of the Mass to the point of making the Mass invalid. Thousands of martyrs died for the Catholic faith during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth I. Only during the brief reign of Mary Tudor was England restored to Catholic unity and the true Mass restored. Many of the same bishops who accepted the Oath of Supremacy now made a "profession of faith." Many of them were also reacting to the "historical events."
If the excuse that the Patriotic bishops are only facing the "reality of historical events" is a valid one, what are we to say of the thousands of bishops, priests and lay martyrs who gave their freedom and even their lives in defense of the Catholic faith? According to the "historical events" theory, they were simply "fools!" or as the Chinese communist government said, "counter-revolutionary". The same can be said of all the martyrs honored by the Catholic church, from the time of the Roman Empire to the present day.
From what we have discussed in section 4A of the first chapter, we know that the Patriotic Association does not have the same faith as that of the loyal Roman Catholic Church.
Holy Father publicly proclaimed numerous times his deep love for China. But, why does the Holy Father still refuse to recognize the Patriotic Association as a Catholic Church, 38 years after its establishment?
Obviously, the continuous refusal of the Patriotic Association to recognize the supreme legislative, executive and judicial authority of the Roman Pontiff prevent it from being in communion with the successor of Peter. This is a fundamental faith of the Roman Catholic Church that the Holy Father must assert and uphold. This basic divergence between the Roman Catholic Church and the Patriotic Association in China prevented Holy Father from recognizing the Patriotic Association as Catholic. "Historical events" and "local civil policies" are irrelevant in deciding the issues for recognition. Neither are the private opinion of certain prelates and scholars.
FALSE THEORY TWO
The Church Under The Communist Regime In Eastern Europe Prior to Its Collapse
Is The Same Church As The Patriotic Association.
Inasmuch As We Helped The Eastern Europe Churches,
We Should Help The Patriotic Association.
Before the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe in 1990, persecution of the Catholic church in this region also existed. Many organizations rightly took pride in assisting the persecuted church in Eastern Europe and in Cuba at that time.
Based on these events, Aid To The Church In Need wrote:
"Over 40 years ago we started helping the persecuted Church in Eastern Europe...If even the Pope had no reservations about making use of a communist to support the persecuted Church, then should we not also be ready to co-operate with a communist-controlled Church?"
The answer to the above question has to be a resounding NO!
In the case of Eastern Europe, the Pope took advantage of certain Communist policies and procedures, and supported the persecuted Roman Catholic Church, which was not a "Communist-controlled church", but was a church in communion with Him and was a part of the Universal Church.
The Patriotic Association cannot be equated to the previously persecuted Roman Catholic Church in Eastern Europe. It is a "Communist-controlled church" As discussed earlier, it is not a catholic church and is not recognized by the Holy Father.
Therefore, the one church in China which should receive the focus from the Universal Church and be equated to the previously persecuted church in Eastern Europe is the underground Roman Catholic Church and not the Patriotic Association. The universal church has an obligation to assist the persecuted Church in China and elsewhere.
FALSE THEORY THREE
Fraternal Charity - Large Donations to The Patriotic Association.
The 1988 advisory to the world Bishops from the Holy See said that any contact with the Patriotic Association should be marked by "doctrinal clarity".
We have dealt in Chapter 1 with the doctrine in detail of the Patriotic Association. Let us now take a look of the "fraternal charity" as advocated by many worldwide Catholic institutions.
Charity and compassion must be properly and appropriately placed. Charity applies to all, but must first start with our obligation at home and focus on all the basic needs of the Roman Catholic Bishops. To give the Patriotic Association $ 4.3 million (page 36, no. 5, 1994, 39 Days) from various Catholic institutions while the loyal underground brothers was "left with nothing" can hardly be called "Fraternal Charity".
To pour millions of dollars into the hands of the Communist Government and its controlled church while the government is imprisoning the Roman Catholic bishops and faithful is a direct insult to the suffering church.
IMPLICATION: Is The Universal Church Endorsing The Patriotic Association By Making Large Donations to it?
One does not donate to an organization let alone support them with millions, unless one approves of their policies and agenda. The accommodation or cooperation with the Patriotic Association from the organizations of the universal church is in effect an endorsement of the Patriotic Association. Such endorsements encourage the Chinese government to continue with their current policy, among which is the persecution of the underground Roman Catholic Church. These endorsements indirectly prolong the religious persecution in China.
Donations from various Catholic institutions have been used to print bibles in China. In these bibles, several of the notes explaining the supremacy of the Pope were deleted or altered.
The donations also supported Patriotic Association seminarians to study in the United States and European seminaries. These seminarians will return to China to be ordained by the Patriotic Association Bishops and serve in the Patriotic Association. Where the loyalties of these seminarians lie is obvious.
In addition, these donations also built and renovated Patriotic Association churches while the loyal priests and bishops are not allowed to have any church or site for offering Masses or holding a meeting.
In the eyes of the faithful in China, the Universal Church HAS clearly endorsed the Patriotic Association and its policy by virtue of its generous donation and enthusiastic participation in the Patriotic Association projects even though the Patriotic Association has publicly rejected the Pope's supreme administrative, legislative, and judicial authority.
Therefore, those Catholic missionaries and organizations assisting the Patriotic Association are publicly undermining the importance of "allegiance to the Holy See". At best, they can only be regarded as social service organizations in China. They are not serving their primary function of evangelization as a Catholic organization.
FALSE THEORY FOUR
Cooperation With The Patriotic Association Should Be Encouraged
Because Of Ecumenism.
In his encyclical letterMORTALIUM ANIMOS of January 6, 1928, Pope Pius XI condemns certain errors of false ecumenism, expressing:
"Since the Mystical Body of Christ, in the same manner as His physical body, is one, compacted and fitly joined together, it were foolish and out of place to say that the Mystical Body is made up of members which are disunited and scattered abroad: whosoever is not united with the Body is no member of it, neither is he in communion with Christ its head."
Obviously, the Patriotic Association, refusing to acknowledge the administrative, legislative, and judicial authority of the Pope as we have repeatedly explained above, fits perfectly with the above description as "disunited" and therefore "foolish" to say that it unites with the "Body".
No Ecumenical Council of the Church has ever contradicted a doctrine proposed by former councils. All documents of the Church demonstrate the evolution of dogma, but never engages in such a radical innovation which contradicts previous teachings. Therefore, the encyclicals MORTALIUM ANIMOS and AD SINARUM GENTEM are still sound teachings regardless of their age.
In his latest encyclical UT UNUM SINT, Pope John Paul II referred to the document of the Second Vatican Council entitled DIGNITATIS HUMANAE and said:
"Ecumenism...is not a question of altering the deposit of faith, changing the meaning of dogmas, eliminating essential words from them, accommodating truth to the preferences of a particular age, or suppressing certain articles of the CREED under the false pretext that they are no longer understood today...In matters of faith, compromise is in contradiction with God who is Truth...A 'being together'' which betrayed the truth would thus be opposed both to the nature of God who offers His communion and to the need for truth found in the depths of every human heart."
True ecumenism is, therefore, an often difficult marriage between love and truth. One cannot exist without the other.
Pope John Paul II emphasized in the above quotation that compromise is in contradiction with God. Yes, one must love one's neighbor. Yes, one must love other Christians and all other religious believers. One must establish a dialogue with them so that members of other faiths would feel comfortable in approaching us, and we Roman Catholics could thus find a possible common ground and explain our differences.
A sincere dialogue require an expression of goodwill. As the Patriotic Association is directly under the Communist government, would it not be the most appropriate expression of goodwill for the leaders of the Patriotic Association actively to influence the Communist government to grant to the persecuted Roman Catholic Church in China the same religious freedom that the Patriotic Association enjoys. Regrettably, there is no evidence of such goodwill.
Since the Patriotic Association continuously denies the administrative, legislative and judicial authority of the Roman Pontiff, this in itself betrays truth. To assist the Patriotic Association beyond the scope of "fraternal charity" proposed by the Vatican will therefore offend against both the "nature of God" and the "need for truth".
Ecumenism does not mean giving up our faith to join another "sister church". Rather we must accept the fact that the Patriotic Association is not Roman Catholic. We must explain to the Patriotic Association and its members the differences between the Roman Catholic Church and the Patriotic Association, identify some of the common ground, and welcome them to return to the "one fold and one shepherd". For the Aid To The Church In Need to say, "cooperation is permissible, possible and desirable" with the Patriotic Association, without any condition, is a gross misinterpretation of the Second Vatican Council and of the above papal documents.
The Cardinal Kung Foundation, in union with the loyal Roman Catholic Church in China, has deep love for all the people of China, Catholic and non-Catholic, including all our separated brethren. We follow the intention of Cardinal Kung whose motto on his Coat of Arms is Ut Sint Unum Ovile Et Unus Pastor (That there may be one fold and one shepherd). We also pray with the Holy Father and with the Gospel of Our Lord: Ut Omnes unum sint, sicut tu, Pater in me, et ego in te ut et ipsi in nobis unum sint. (That they all may be one, as You, Father in Me, and I in You; that they may be one in Us) (John 17:21).
FALSE THEORY FIVE
It Is Very Risky to Work With The Loyal Roman Catholic (unofficial) Church
Because It Is Illegal In China.
Sympathizers of the Patriotic Association often argued that aiding an "illegal church" under its many restrictive conditions makes missionary efforts not effective and even risky. The Patriotic Association should, therefore, be courted and assisted regardless of the well-known fact that the Patriotic Association is independent from the Holy Father.
While we must make a strong effort in our missionary endeavors, the fruit of the mission is the gift of the Holy Spirit. Since the early church in the Roman days, the Catholic church has been deemed illegal in many countries and at various times. Many saints became such because they were caught illegally spreading the gospel and were martyred The blood of the martyrs is the seeds of the church despite the "illegal" status of these martyrs.
One of the prerequisites to becoming a missionary is his readiness to die for Christ, that is why the cardinal's color is red, symbolizing blood. There is no easy way out. Those missionaries who are on the side of the Patriotic Association because of the illegal status of the loyal Roman Catholic Church must be mindful that the missionary mandate, since it comes from Christ Himself, is of a higher order (cf. Matt 28: 16-20; John 20: 21-23)
The loyal church in China has grown from 3 million to 8 million even with its "illegal status", lack of churches, bankrupt finances, and continuous persecution for 45 years.
The yet-to-be-certified miracle at the Shrine of Our Lady of Dong Lu on May 23, 1995 is perhaps an important message of love from Our Holy Mother to the Roman Catholic (illegal and unofficial) Church. Before these 30,000 underground and loyal Catholics, God demonstrated that, despite their "illegal" status and activities, the loyal faithful remain close to His heart. This miracle has been confirmed by the local Ordinary.
FALSE THEORY SIX
We Cannot Work With The Loyal Roman Catholic Church,
Because We Cannot Find Them.
They Are All Underground.
"Underground" describing the loyal Roman Catholic Church has become a generic term. They were truly underground about twenty years ago. Since 1990 when the loyal Church organized her Bishops Conference, it became a mandate for the loyal bishops to venture aboveground. Since then, the whereabouts of the loyal bishops are well known to the Chinese Government's security bureau. While it is still both difficult and risky for a tourist to visit the loyal bishops and clergy, it is no longer an issue for missionary communities to reach them.
There must be a lot more reasons that the sympathizers of the Patriotic Association can offer for their support of the Patriotic Association, but they would all become irrelevant when one understands that the Patriotic Association, not being Catholic, can never represent the true Roman Catholic Church in China.
In view of the above, it is presumptuous for any organization or Catholic prelate to recognize or to treat the Patriotic Association as a Roman Catholic church before our Holy Father announced so, if ever. It is hypocritical for prelates or faithful to work with the Patriotic Association under the pretext of love for China. It is wrong and misdirected for those who do not work with the Vatican appointed underground Bishops in China.
In its first pastoral letter, the Chinese National Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops said:
"It is most lamentable and unfortunate to be separated from the Church. We must pray often for these separated brothers and sisters (the Patriotic Association) so that the merciful Lord will grant them the grace to repent. We must persuade them with love and encourage them with faith, so that they too will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and be courageous witnesses of Christ. May they sail smoothly on the bark of mother Church with St. Peter at its helm, and return home to the Universal Church ruled by our Sovereign Pontiff."
Let us pray for the Patriotic Associations in the words of Cardinal Kung,
"Grant mercy, O Lord, to those brothers and sisters who chose to be separated from you, may they return to the one fold and one Shepherd."