Crossing Lines between the Novus Ordo &
Tridentine Mass in China
Another cross removed recently from a Catholic Cathedral in Henan Province
"However," my friend Jan continued, "I have heard that the Patriotic Association says Masses in Latin (the Tridentine rite) while the Underground Church says the Novus Ordo. What is going on? Shouldn't you be pointing out the Underground Church's betrayal of tradition? And why would they do that anyway?"
A confused situation
You are correct, Jan, that the situation in China is becoming steadily worse for the Underground Catholic Church, which has suffered decades of persecution for its refusal to accept the authority of the communist government over the Catholic Church and have professed loyalty to Rome and the Holy Father.
You are also correct that these faithful Chinese Catholics have been betrayed by the Vatican and the Pope, not just Francis but also his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict, who have recognized the CPA's bishops, supported their seminaries, funded their initiatives and encouraged rapprochement between the false CPA and the authentic Underground Catholic Church.
A complex liturgical situation
On one hand, the Chinese Patriotic Association had first proscribed the liturgy in the vernacular that was mandated by Paul VI after Vatican II, precisely to oppose the directives of a "foreign power" (the Pope). Therefore, ironically, the communist-controlled CPA, whose bishops were chosen by the government and whose teachings of the Church's full doctrine (on abortion, morals, private property, etc.) were forbidden, had the Tridentine Mass.
Communion in the hand now given regularly in the communist-controlled CPA churches
Those young men would return to serve the Underground Church, quite aware that they could face prison, labor camps and persecution from the communist authorities for their "fidelity" to the Pope. Unwilling to follow the government-sanctioned CPA, they believed they must follow Rome, without recognizing the "protestantization" of the new liturgy or recognizing the ambiguities of Vatican II, which led to a progressivist and erroneous doctrine.
Nuances in the picture
However, most of the men ordained by Underground Bishops, as well as the Prelates themselves, lacked this progressivist teaching and continued to say the Tridentine Mass, especially in the countryside provinces. The faithful, comfortable with the hierarchical pre-Vatican II Church, also desired the pomp and ceremony of the old rite.
Vatican sponsored formation for CPA catechists in Rome introduces the new liturgy & teachings
It seemed as if Benedict were saying: "These badly trained priests are still clinging to the old rites and ways. They need to be better trained by those who have accepted the innovations of Vatican II." And, by that time, most of the CPA was well on its way to saying the Novus Ordo Missae, as you will see below.
The conclusion: Many Bishops and priests of the Underground Church still say the Tridentine Mass, but are being strongly pressured by Rome to abandon it and say the Novus Ordo.
Novus Ordo becoming dominant in the CPA
Now, regarding the CPA, the picture is also nuanced. Since the mid-1980s there has been a push from the Vatican – which was sending funds and offering tacit support to the communist-controlled CPA – to abandon its practice of saying the Tridentine Mass and introduce the Novus Ordo and reforms of Vatican Council II.
Bishop Jin Luxzian, with his hand-chosen successor Joseph Zing Wenzhi, push for the Novus Ordo
Luxzian agreed to be illicitly consecrated by CPA bishops and became bishop of Shanghai without Vatican approval and received the seminary of Shanghai to orient. Shunned and distrusted by the heroic exiled Card. Kung, the new bishop Jin Luxzian was, however, supported and approved by John Paul II.
Under his policy of accommodation with Rome, the Chinese government allowed Bishop Jin Luxzian to translate the Mass into vernacular and emphasize the role of the laity. So, the first Chinese-language Novus Ordo Mass was celebrated in Shanghai on September 30, 1989.
In 1989, Fr. Joseph Zen, today a cardinal, offered the first New Mass in China
A CPA New Missal was officially authorized by the Vatican on a national level in 1993 and, soon afterwards, the New Mass in Chinese with the priest facing the people was being disseminated throughout the CPA.
Since 1985, Fr. Thomas Law Kwok-fai, appointed to the Hong Kong Diocesan Liturgy Commission, was given responsibility to implement the Novus Ordo on mainland China.
To bring the CPA priests up-to-date with post-Vatican II liturgy, he has published articles on a popular website to help them understand the spirit and meaning of the Mass in the context of the Vatican Council II. Many of his students have obtained degrees in liturgy and now they carry on the task of teaching seminarians the Novus Ordo.
CPA seminarians being trained in Rome
Gradually the Novus Ordo in Chinese is being introduced to all the CPA parishes, according to Fr. Law Kwok-fai. Only a few parishes in Shanghai, the world's most populous city with 24 million people, conduct Mass in Latin for elderly parishioners, once in the early morning, and the same process is occurring throughout the CPA.
In summary, we see the original situation reversed. Today the CPA, supported by John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis is promoting the Novus Ordo liturgy and Vatican II innovations.
It is the few faithful in the Underground Church, realizing the betrayal by the Vatican, who have the potential to keep or return to the Tridentine Mass. Let us pray that they will make a strong resistance not just to the shameful Rome-Beijing coming accord, but also to the Novus Ordo Mass and bad doctrine that came from Vatican II.
CPA seminarians in China now being formed to follow the Vatican II liturgy