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Cardinal tells China to drop state church
CARDINALKeith O’Brien has told Chinese Communist Party officials that there is no need for a separate “patriotic” church in their country. The Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh made his remarks in a visit to China last month during discussions with Ye Xiaowen, the director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, and deputy director Wang Zuo’an. The cardinal told the officials that the overwhelming majority of Chinese Catholics wanted to be united in one Church under the authority of the Pope and not to be registered in the statecontrolled Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA). “I was saying that in every country in the world Catholics are regarded as being patriotic and loyal to their country as they are to their religion,” the cardinal said. “I said that there is no need in Scotland for a patriotic Scottish church. We are as patriotic as anyone else in our country. I said I saw no need to have a ‘patriotic’ Catholic Church in China. Catholics in China are as much patriots to their country as Catholics are in any other country in the world.” He also told the officials that he thought it “extremely sad” that the four Chinese Catholic bishops to attend the Synod on the Eucharist in Rome in 2005 were not
allowed to leave their country. His opinions, he said, were met mostly with awkward silences. “There were a few contentious points raised in discussions but that was what the visit was about, not just to paper over the cracks but to be open, friendly and honest about ways forward,” he said. “We had some full and frank discussions. There was no way I was going to China to say everything is lovely if I didn’t think everything was lovely.” The CCPA was formed in the late 1950s when China began suppressing the Catholic Church. Members were initially asked to register and reject ties with the Vatican though many later pledged their cooperation with the state and also their loyalty to the pope. Those who refused to join the patriotic association suffered decades of persecution and the “loyal” Catholic Church was driven underground. Today, most registered patriotic association bishops have reconciled with Rome as the Communist Party has begun to relax its grip on the Church. In July Benedict XVI issued a letter calling on Chinese Catholics to pursue unity. He criticised the insistence of the state that church communities needed to be registered and described as official. He said the CCPA was “incompatible with Catholic doctrine which from the time of the ancient creeds professes the Church
to be ‘one, holy, Catholic and apostolic’.” Cardinal O’Brien said he thought the Pope’s letter had given the Church in China “renewed hope for the future”. He said in China he witnessed a “great bustle” of “enthusiastic people and enthusiastic congregations” in a Church that was busy preparing young men and women for the priesthood and religious life, catechising the young, administering the sacraments, and helping Aids sufferers and lepers. “I think many ordinary Catholics realised that there was something wrong in their own situation in which some of them belonged to a registered church and some did not,” he said. “There is that split and the Pope’s letter has held out tremendous hope for bishops and priests who might be in irregular situations at this time to be reconciled. The feeling that came through to me was that members of the Church want things to be put right and put right as soon as possible,” he said. “I had a great sense of the process of normalisation taking place,” Cardinal O’Brien added. “It filled me with a tremendous sense of hope and consolation.” He said he was also impressed by the economic progress of China but said he felt that such advances needed to be underpinned by a “sound spirituality”.
Editorial comment: Page 11
Cardinal Keith O’Brien engaged in ‘full and frank discussions’ with Communist officials
Official: bishops in ‘rebellion’ over Mass
A SENIOR Vatican liturgical official has accused bishops and diocesan officials of trying to sabotage the implementation of the Pope’s Motu Proprio on the traditional Mass. Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, said that a number of dioceses were rebelling against the Pontiff by hampering his attempts to remove restrictions on the celebration of the traditional liturgy. “These actions mask behind them, on one hand, prejudices of an ideological kind and, on the other, pride, one of the gravest sins,” he said. The archbishop, a Dutch-born Sri Lankan, said that there had been “criticism and opposition” to the Pope’s Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum from “theologians, liturgists, priests, bishops and even cardinals”. He said: “I frankly do not understand these rifts, and, why not [say it], rebellion towards the Pope. I invite all, particularly the Shepherds, to obey the Pope, who is the Successor of Peter. “If the Holy Father decided to promulgate the Motu Proprio, he had his reasons, which I fully share.” The archbishop’s words will delight many traditionalists in England and Wales, who claim that some bishops have misinterpreted the Motu Proprio. The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei is expected to issue a follow-up document to Summorum Pontificum , which will clarify the Pope intentions for the future of the traditional Mass.
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Cardinal Pell criticises ‘post-Christian’ Britain
Priest dares townsfolk to ‘know popery’
THE AUSTRALIAN Cardinal George Pell of Sydney has launched a scathing attack on the aggressive secularism of “post-Christian Britain”. The cardinal, tipped by some to be the next Archbishop of Westminster, said the recent controversy over Britain’s Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORS) suggested that a “large battle” was looming over human rights and antidiscrimination legislation. Cardinal Pell, in a speech to a current affairs forum in Sydney, said that Australia had preserved religious values more successfully than Britain. He said: “The religious situation in Australia is somewhat closer to that of the United States rather than post-Christian Britain. Both our Prime Minister and his challenger are serious Christians. “Neither the British Prime Minister nor his alternative are in this mould, and the Catholic community here in Australia is larger and with a much longer and stronger tradition of contributions to public political life than in Britain, whose history and
Cardinal Pell fears a ‘large battle’ ahead for Christians
traditions are still residually anti-Catholic.” The cardinal drew attention to the way SORS had forced Catholic agencies to abandon adoption services earlier this year by denying them the right to refuse to put children into the care of a homosexual couple. The new laws, he said, show “what can happen when a bill of rights is interpreted from the premises of a minority secularist mindset, especially when it is sharpened, as in Europe, by fear of home-grown Islam. “Reading freedom of religion as a limited right to be offensive... is not acceptable in a democracy where many more than a majority belong to the great religious traditions –even more so when it is claimed that this is ‘necessary for democracy’.”
He said: “Democracy does not need to be secular. The secularist reading of religious freedom places Christians (at least) in the position of a barely tolerated minority (even when they are the majority) whose rights must always yield to the secular agenda, although I don’t think other religious minorities will be treated the same way.” Cardinal Pell pointed to the case of the English couple, Vince and Pauline Matherick, who were recently told that they could no longer foster children because “as committed nonconformist Christians they were unable to teach the children they are fostering that homosexual relationships are just as acceptable as heterosexual marriages”.
FORONE NIGHT of the year Lewes –the genteel and normally tranquil town in rural Sussex – indulges in an unparalleled festival of old English anti-popery. Processions are held to mark the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and they culminate in huge bonfires on which effigies of Pope St Pius V –the 16th century pontiff who excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I –are thrown into the flames, along with Guy Fawkes, of course. Many members of the six bonfire societies in the town bear aloft banners reading “No Popery”. But Fr Richard Biggerstaff, the parish priest of St Pancras Church, Lewes, has now seen an opportunity to spread and deepen the Catholic faith in the midst of the celebrations. This week he launched the first of a series of annual lectures timed to coincide with the bonfires. He has named the event “Know Popery”. The inaugural talk was given on Tuesday by London priest and historian Fr Nicholas Schofield on the subject of the English cardinals. Fr Biggerstaff said: “The thing we are trying to do in Lewes –a cultured town and an academic town –is to try to promote interest in English Catholic history, which is very, very rich. Around this time next year we will have another lecture.”
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