By H. Sergio Mora
ROME, MARCH 20, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The Pope’s word are known in China despite the Internet limitations that deny access to some Web sites. The Vatican’s Web page is accessible and even churches of the Patriotic Association, who are separated from Rome, put photos of the Holy Father on the net, according to a European missionary living in Asia who recently passed through Rome.
The priest, who wishes to remain anonymous, has visited China clandestinely several times to administer the sacraments.
He said that a visa to go to continental China must be for tourism or other reasons, as pastoral activity is prohibited. And when, very rarely, it is permitted, it must be under the control of the authorities.
The priest recalled that, after expelling missionaries and priests in 1953, four years later Beijing established the Patriotic Association which rejected the Church’s bond with Rome. Hence, Catholics faithful to the Pope are part of the underground Church.
There is some cooperation between the Churches, explained, more so in the big cities, where it is easier to go unnoticed. Not so in the villages where everyone knows everything about everyone and where it is easier to be singled out and denounced, he said.
Today there is a certain liberty of worship in China but not religious liberty, said the missionary. It is a religiosity that can be practiced but not fully unless one wants to be a martyr.
The missionary priest added that one “cannot condemn a priori those who frequent the Patriotic Church, many of whom desire communion with Rome, as not all respond with the same degree of heroism.”
He said that bishops and members of the Patriotic Association have spoken of their communion with Rome, though they cannot be public about it for now.
“I know bishops and priests with sincere spiritual convictions, although they acknowledge that it can be a tempting for an opportunist.”
It is estimated that there are 21 million Catholics in China, although there are no statistics, a number which is a miniscule percentage in a population of 1.3 billion inhabitants. The number of faithful is increasing “and the situation of persecution makes them very sincere,” he said.
The missionary priest, who loves his mission in China, specified: “I’m not a dissident and I recognize the objective difficulties.”
“The system fears the Church, as she preaches dignity and truth, messages that are very dangerous for the system, as Communism is of masses, crushing, in which the individual is nothing. The few drops of water that fall and are felt are of the Catholic Church which takes in abandoned children in a country in which, in so many cases, abortion is obligatory and considered normal,” he said.
An Underground Retreat
The priest spoke about a retreat which was held clandestinely. “There a lady working in health care told me she was pregnant. I said it was a joy. She said that the hospital controls pregnancies and, therefore, if she didn’t abort she would lose her job, but she was determined to protect her child.”
One can end up in prison for holding a retreat or a meeting, as happened a short time ago to Joseph Wang Hu, a former student in Rome of the Faculty of Canon Law of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, who was arrested for holding a meeting with a few people on religion and who was released a few days ago. “Now he is in controlled liberty. He must take part in political indoctrination classes and without the possibility of having a telephone. Meanwhile, he knows of two other priests who are detained,” he said.