NEWS: June 26, 2007

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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães

WOMEN PRIESTS, THE PROCESS STARTED - With the focus of international attention turned to Brazil following the visit of Benedict XVI, an official document of the Brazilian Episcopate was recently spotlighted by the London weekly The Tablet (May 26, 2007, p. 38). The document, posted on the Bishops’ Conference website toward the end of last year, is titled: Synthesis of the Contributions of the Church in Brazil to the Conference of Aparecida. It is a summary of positions of Dioceses, Religious Congregations and Theological Institutions sent to the Conference of Bishops to prepare for the recent meeting of Latin American Bishops in the city of Our Lady Aparecida.

Women being ordained in international waters

July 25, 2005 - In a ceremony on the deck of a boat in international waters, nine Catholic women from the U.S. & Canada become priests. A sign of the times?
The Synthesis incorporated the following theses as official statements of the ensemble of Brazilian Bishops:
  • “Christian communities have the right to the Eucharist, but 75 per cent of our weekly celebrations are without a priest.

  • “We must have the courage to change Church discipline in relation to the ministry and the way it is exercised. We must staunch this open wound.

  • “More and more women are becoming aware of their dignity and demanding equality of treatment and opportunity. The Church cannot be insensitive to this new sign of the times, also at the internal level, since men are the more privileged ones in the Church who normally make decisions.

  • “Conservative tendencies, which reject the thinking and participation of women in tasks of direction and Church coordination … cannot prevent the Church from making prophetic gestures. Women’s access to the ordained ministry is a pending debt.”
At a press conference on the topic of the Synthesis, Brazilian Bishop Celso Queiroz, former Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference, spoke more on this “debt to women.” “At the moment” he said, “we know that the dialogue in the Church on the possible ordination of women is closed, which does not mean that it cannot be opened.”

There is no doubt that the weight the Brazilian Episcopate, the largest in the world with its 446 Bishops, is pressuring for this door to be opened. Let us see how long the Vatican will keep the good doctrine.

RED LIGHT IN RED CHINA – Bishop Michael Fu Tieshan, who served the Communist regime of Beijing for 25 years, was given a state funeral April 27 at the Revolutionary Cemetery, the burial place for Communist heroes and high government officials. Bishop Fu, 76, died of cancer on April 20. He was the chairman of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, normally known as the “Patriotic Church,” and president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops in China.

Bishop Fu

The coffin of bishop Fu from the Patriotic Church, above, was covered with the Chinese Communist flag
Chinese president Hu Jintao, Prime-minister Wen Jiabao and Congress chairman Wu Bangguo, as well as other high-ranking state and social leaders, attended the religious services. So did numerous priests, nuns and lay people belonging to the Patriotic Church.

Fu’s coffin was covered with a Communist flag before the body was sent to be cremated. His ashes will be kept at the Revolutionary Cemetery until a site at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral is renovated (National Catholic Reporter, May 11, 2007, p. 3).

Shortly before all these honors were showered on Fu, bishop Martin Wu Qinjing was taken by the police from his church on March 17, and is being held to answer endless political questions. Wu is also a member of the Patriotic Church; however the Vatican gave its approval for his nomination when he was consecrated bishop two years ago. Now, reversing its position, the Patriotic Church says that Wu’s consecration was illegal because it violated a regulation against religious persons being controlled by “foreign influences” (The Tablet, May 19, 2007, p. 35).

In response to these recent hostilities to the Vatican, Cardinal Joseph Zen, Bishop of Hong Kong and a great promoter of Vatican Ostpolitik with Communist China, declared on May 30 that the Chinese authorities “are not keeping their promises.”

I don’t know what specific promises Zen is referring to, but anyone who believes in the promises of Communists is a fool playing into their game. For Communists the end justifies the means; therefore, it is part of their tactics to lie whenever it is convenient for their interests. To believe what they say is either a sign of naiveté, or collaboration.

The hostility of the Communist regime toward true Catholics is also manifest in the recent decision by China’s Ministry of Public Security issuing a list of “unwanteds” who will be barred from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. These include the members of the underground Catholic Church as well as foreign missionaries (The Tablet, June 9, 2007, p. 32).

Underground Chinese bishop Jia

Bishop Jia from the underground Catholic Church, 20 years in prison and 10 arrests during a house-surveillance liberty
Another blatant confirmation of aggression was the arrest of underground Catholic Bishop Jia Zhiguo on June 5. No further news about him has been heard to this date. Bishop Jia had been imprisoned for 20 years. Released in 2004, his house was under strict surveillance and he was arrested ten more times for questioning (Cardinal Kung Foundation press release, June 6, 2007).

These episodes make it very clear how wrong the Vatican Ostpolitik with China is. The plan of Benedict XVI, “to touch the heart” of Communists by admitting the bishops and priests of the Patriotic Church as valid, reveals itself to be a great fiasco. The arrest of bishop Wu and even more, the arrest of Bishop Jia, in contrast to the pompous funeral for bishop Fu, demonstrate quite well that the Chinese Communist regime despises the Vatican's compromises.

It is a clear red light to Benedict to stop going ahead with yet more concessions and agreements with Communists.

I hope that he will understand the message. Also, that he will stop selling out the heroic members of the underground Church – the only real Catholic Church in China. They are suffering all kinds of privations and persecutions for the Catholic Faith, and the moves of Benedict favoring the false Patriot Church can only increase their distress.

I hope and pray that those valorous Chinese Catholics will remain faithful and resist the bad orientation of Progressivist Prelates, even a Pope. They may remember St. Paul who taught us that if an Angel from Heaven would come preaching a different doctrine we should not accept him (Gal 1:8). The same applies to a Pope who would come telling Catholics to give up their fidelity to the true Faith.


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