Compromise or Capitulation?
Last August 3, 22 priests of the Chinese patriotic Church were personally greeted by Benedict XVI at the end of the public audience that the pope holds every Wednesday in Rome. The group had just come from a two-week course at the Benedictine abbey of St. Ottilien, in Bavaria, Joseph Ratzinger’s birthplace, and from a shorter stay at another Benedictine abbey in Italy, that of Camaldoli. The audience with the pope was not part of their original plans, and it certainly had the approval of the Patriotic Association. The 22 priests were all seminary rectors, for twelve different dioceses in China. Over the next few years, some of them are likely to be named bishops – under the procedures of the official Church, but also with the de facto agreement of the Holy See.So this is what Rome will do to establish diplomatic relations with the Mainland... Currently, for the unawares, the Holy See has its Chinese embassy in Taipei -- my homeboy Jim Green ran it for a while. John Paul expressed the explicit preference to move the embassy to Beijing, but it's hit more than a few snags.
The reconciliation taking place between the two Catholic communities in China was deeply troubling for the Beijing authorities. In order to obstruct this, they launched a campaign against the canonization of the Chinese martyrs, denouncing as an “intolerable provocation” the fact that the date Rome had chosen for the ceremony, October 1, was also the day of China’s national holiday. John Paul II wrote a personal letter to President Jiang Zemin to explain that the canonization was intended to honor the Chinese people. He received no reply.
But this campaign had no effect. Reconciliation has continued between the clandestine and the patriotic Catholics. And beginning in the autumn of 2004, all the ordinations of new bishops belonging to the official Church have taken place with Rome’s consensus.
This consensus has never been expressed in an official form. The Vatican remains silent, but the facts speak for themselves.
That tends to happen with covering the Holy See -- the facts speak for themselves. But not everyone can hear them most of the time....