Faith under siege

A RETIRED archbishop from China calls on Catholics to pray for his brethren, who continue to suffer persecution in the communist country.

Hong Kong Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun told delegates of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress that to this day, Chinese Catholics, particularly members of the clergy, continue to be victims of murders and forced disappearances, allegedly masterminded by the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Listening to Zen’s testimony, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said the experience of China’s Catholics should serve as a lesson for Filipinos.

In his testimony yesterday, Zen said that since the CPC deposed the old regime in 1949, Catholicism in China has taken a silent but resilient role.

Resilience

However, Zen said that despite being separated from the world by a “curtain of bamboo,” Catholics in China remain steadfast in their faith and practice.
“Fortunately, the silence is not immediately complete,” said Zen, who recalled the massive opposition of Chinese Catholics against state control of Catholic schools.

But their resilience was often countered by violent methods like forced disappearances and imprisonment.

Zen lamented that so many of his peers, including bishops, disappeared without a trace.

He also said that some clergymen in China, under the influence of the CPC, have denied Catholic beliefs and principles.

Just before he ended his testimony, Zen called on Catholics to not only pray for those who are being persecuted in the Middle East, but also in China.

“It is surely necessary to remember those persecuted in the Middle East. But don’t forget those in China. They are still in deep waters, in burning fires and in terrible reality. We believe in the communion of the Holy Eucharist, especially adoration in giving hope to our brothers and sisters. For after the cross, there is the resurrection. After the tribulations, there will be glory and joy,” Zen said.

Fortunate

In a separate interview, Palma told reporters that the Philippines is fortunate to worship God without fear of oppression.

“Listening to him (Zen) makes me feel how privileged we are that we can practice our faith without the threat of martyrdom. Because martyrdom is very real in some people,” Palma said.

But he lamented that while some Catholics are fortunate to practice their faith freely, many take it for granted.

Palma urged Catholics to take heed of Zen’s experience as a way to increase one’s faith in God.

“The message of the cardinal is a way of reminding us that when we look at faith, we realize that it is a gift,” he said.

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