Response to a belated and untimely report from La Stampa

May 27th 2008

Cardinal ZEN, Bishop of Hong Kong, was in Rome on May 11. He wasinterviewed by La Stampa from Turin.Obviously, the disaster at Sichuanhad not occurred before the interview. However, La Stampa published theinterview yesterday (May 26, 2008), two weeks afterwards. Unfortunately,several media in Hong Kong have reported theinterview, which was apparently belated and misplaced.

In the interview, Cardinal Zen commented on the OlympicsTorch Relay, quoting from various views from overseas and mainland. In themacro orientation of ‘China’speaceful rise’, he pledged for indulgence and generosity, urging to avoidnationalism of dictatorship, as fanatical patriotism would often lead to extremebehaviour. To illustrate his point more vividly to his Italian readers,Cardinal Zen sought to evoke their experience of ‘fascism’. He prayed that China wouldescape from the dictatorship of nationalism. Meanwhile, Cardinal Zen emphaticallydiscussed religious freedom; he indicated that Pope Benedict’s proposed visitto Chinashould not be materialised before full resurgence of religious freedom, henceit would be highly improbable before the Beijing Olympic Games in August.

On May 12, the disasters occurred in Sichuan. Cardinal Zenimmediately called Hong Kong, directing theCatholic Diocese and Caritas Hong Kong to deliver immediate assistance. Hereturned from Romeon May 17, and began visiting parishes, appealing for prayers and donations.

In the past two weeks, the Chinese Leaders haverevealed high transparency and openness in relief process and strategy – ahuman orientated mind-set, which would allow full access to internationalrelief, and full coverage from media of no discrimination. Thus, China hasdeservedly won international acclaims. At this point, to the dismay of manypeople, La Stampa releases the interview. It is highly inconceivable that theyhave chosen this very moment to juxtaposing the fascism with the Chineseleaders amid calamities and disasters.

Finally, Mingpao in Hong Kong has made a serious error in today’s related report. Theymisquoted Cardinal Zen saying “that the current Chinese Catholic PatrioticAssociation is ‘highly appreciated’both by official and underground Catholics.” The original report from La Stampareveals that ‘highly appreciated’ isbeing used to qualify the Chinese Catholics in terms of their attitude to thepublic letter from Pope Benedict last year. In fact, Cardinal Zen said, “Thetension between the two groups (i.e. official and underground) has been createdthrough exterior factors, including political and other factors. The principalblockage to the normalisation of the Catholic Church in China is infact the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.”

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