Chinese "Patriotic" Bishop: We´re With the Pope in Faith

A Government-Approved Interview With Jin Luxian

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SHANGHAI, China, APR. 25, 2001 (ZENIT.orgAvvenire).- With characteristic Chinese hospitality, “Patriotic” Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian of Shanghai welcomed the reporter who would interview him, in his small room in the Cathedral of St. Ignatius of Xujihaui.

His face reflected the serenity of a man nearing 90, whom events have kept in the foreground of Chinese history.

Bishop Jin Luxian was educated by Jesuits in Italy in the 1940s. Two years after the victory of the Chinese Communist Party, he returned to his country and was immediately arrested.

“The authorities wondered how it was possible that, while others tried to get visas to leave, I was doing the opposite,” he recalled during the government-approved interview. “Hence, they thought I had a mission to subvert the newly established government.”

Bishop Jin Luxian spent the following 27 years in prisons; he was released in 1978, when Deng Xiaoping came to power.

The delicate position Bishop Jin Luxian holds today in the “official,” state-controlled Church subjects him to even greater control by the local authorities.

–Q: Does the Church in Shanghai enjoy a certain liberty?

–Bishop Jin Luxian: It´s true; at least here, in Shanghai, we are free to practice our faith, and I must say that in the most remote areas, the Church is respected more than in past years.

–Q: However, China continues to be Communist.

–Bishop Jin Luxian: Certainly!

–Q: Here, in Shanghai, there seems to be little Communism.

–Bishop Jin Luxian: It is a Marxism with Chinese characteristics; there is a free market. I know that it is a contradiction to speak of a free market in a Communist country. We have a Communist system without democracy, the same as in Singapore, where there is a capitalist system without democracy.

–Q: What are your relations like with the Vatican in the theological and political fields?

–Bishop Jin Luxian: In faith and morals we are absolutely faithful to the Pope´s directives. As regards politics, the absence of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and China creates not a few difficulties for us. Clearly, the Chinese Church cannot support Taiwan as the Holy See does officially.

–Q: What is the solution, then, to be in full communion with the Pope?

–Bishop Jin Luxian: The faith. We pray for the Pope during Masses; we receive his encyclicals and apostolic letters regularly. Moreover, today there is television and electronic mail that enable us to maintain direct contact with the Vatican every day.

–Q: Cardinal Etchegaray came to Shanghai last year. What was the result of his visit?

–Bishop Jin Luxian: Etchegaray, a personality of great charism, arrived at a difficult time. The tension between Beijing and the Vatican was at the highest level because of the canonization of the Chinese martyrs. I had a very friendly private conversation with the cardinal, but the atmosphere around us was tense.

–Q: The Vatican has stated that the date of the canonization of the martyrs was not chosen by design.

–Bishop Jin Luxian: Now this is water under the bridge. We must think of the future. We are between the sword and the wall. If we adopt a conciliatory stance toward the authorities, we are accused of being the Patriotic Church and, therefore, far from the Pope´s line; and, vice versa, if there are problems between Beijing and the Vatican, the government limits our freedom.

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