The First Things weblog (from some reason I don't like calling it just a blog, weird) has another excellent offering for us Catholic freeloaders today in the form of a lengthy interview with Hong Kong's Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun. From reading it, you get the feeling that Zen is a very humble, careful, caring and smart person. It's a fascinating insight into the trials and triumphs, however few there may be at the moment, of the Catholic Church in China.
I can't help but wonder if the Church in China is experiencing what our Church in Canada, or the Church in the UK or the USA, will suffer through in the coming years, if as expected, unrestricted Catholicism becomes public-enemy number one to our governments. Certainly we have seen this happen in Boston and in the entire UK, where the local and national governments there have tried to force Catholic adoption providers to send children into homosexual relationships. In response, I'm sure you know, the providers chose not to continue their services, and, in Boston, have all closed down. Some call it the hard line approach, but you can't begin to compromise Catholic teaching just to make a few political points.
Which is something Zen says the Church in China didn't always do well, the hard line stuff. It cooperated frequently with the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, a government controlled body, in order to carry out its mission, even at the expense of its mission. This resulted in the two Churches, the Patriotic and the Underground, both of which, confusingly, have valid sacraments. The Patriotic Church receives its funding from the government, is controlled by the CCPA, and basically is the bureaucracy which administers the Church, officially, in China. It recently caused much uproar by allowing the illicit ordination of a bishop at the behest of the Communist government. If we look at things comparatively, we can see just what could happen in the West if the Church didn't take a hard line approach and maintain its autonomy.