Cardinal Joseph Zen has said he fears the Vatican will betray the underground Church in China by pursuing a deal with the government.

In an interview with LifeSiteNews, the Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong said he had written “many letters” to Pope Francis, pleading for him not to strike a deal with the Chinese government over bishops, but had not received any response.

The Catholic Church operates underground in China. Catholics are expected to join the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association – the government-controlled Church in which bishops are installed by the Chinese government and not the Vatican – but many choose to worship secretly. Bishops of the underground Church, loyal to the Vatican, often face imprisonment and persecution.

Earlier this month, Cardinal John Tong Hon announced that the Vatican and Beijing were nearing a deal on the appointment of bishops. He said Beijing would recognise the Pope’s right to veto any of the bishops they had selected.

But Cardinal Zen told LifeSiteNews that a deal with Beijing could be a betrayal of loyal Catholics who must live out their faith in secret and who often suffer under the communist regime.

“They don’t have much public voice, the underground,” he said. “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.”

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection