Vatican document on China leaves open questions

China observers take mixed view on communiqué reporter, Hong Kong
May 10, 2012
Catholic Church News Image of Vatican document on China leaves open questions
St. Joseph’s Church at the busy Wangfujing area in Beijing

Observers of the Church in China say a recent document issued by the Vatican about laity formation and Church principles answered the call for clarity but would not yield immediate results.

Ren Yanli, a former researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, said the communiqué was consistent with the Vatican’s position on the China Church and met many expectations.

“I think the most notable sentence is ‘evangelization cannot be achieved by sacrificing essential elements of the Catholic faith and discipline,” Ren said.

“It did not mention relations with the Chinese government, showing the Vatican no longer wants to do things on its own wishful thinking.”

He added that the effect of the communiqué would depend on how Chinese Catholics react to it.

Anthony Lam Sui-ki, a senior researcher at Hong Kong diocese’s Holy Spirit Study Centre, said the Vatican document would have long-term effects.

He said that of the two focal points of the document – laity formation and faithfulness to Church principles – formation was “important but less urgent.”

The morale of the lay faithful is greatly affected by the behavior and integrity of their bishops, so observing Church principles is the first priority, he said.

“The major premise of evangelization should be keeping the completeness of the mystical body of Christ,” he said.

Kwun Ping-hung, a Hong Kong-based observer, says laity formation and observing Church principles are interrelated and inseparable, for “if some bishops’ words and deeds obfuscated the clarity of the face of the Church, how can integral formation of lay Catholics be achieved?”

The communiqué criticized two types of bishops – illegitimate bishops who have carried out acts of jurisdiction or who have administered the Sacraments, and legitimate bishops who have participated in illegitimate episcopal ordinations.

However, “it does not make a clear stance on those bishops who have received pardon from the Vatican but then participated in recent legitimate ordinations together with illegitimate bishops,” observed Kwun, who is not a Catholic.

It also does not touch on other elements, including the political environment that has caused difficulties for the China Church and certain decisions by the Vatican that brought about disagreements among Chinese Catholics, Kwun added.

This could help the Vatican to set up various channels of dialogue with China but would not resolve the divisions and confusion among mainland clergy and faithful, and therefore weakened the communiqué’s guiding function, Kwun said.

400 words

About The Voice Of Bombay's Catholic Laity

Bombay Laity Ezekiel’s Chapter 3 Task as Watchman 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18 When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for[b] their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.
This entry was posted in Church Worldwide news. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s