Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun

February 20, 2012

Chinese Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun warned that the Chinese Catholic Church is "on the verge of a schism" between communities cooperating with government structures and the underground Church loyal to the Vatican.

Zen, retired bishop of Hong Kong, called on the Vatican and other Catholics to shun "organisms that are not only foreign but clearly hostile to the Church" in China.

Zen made his comments in an article published Feb. 8 by Asia News, a missionary news agency based in Rome.

China's more than 10 million Catholics are divided among communities registered with the communist government and those, sometimes called "underground," who have refused to register.

In recent years, as many as 85 per cent of government-approved bishops have been recognized by the Holy See, a "strategy of compromise" that Zen argued has demoralized the unregistered communities.

"We can see that the underground community that once flourished so well now runs the risk of dying of frustration and discouragement, because it seems to be neglected and considered inconvenient by the Holy See," he wrote.