Father Sergio Ticozzi Sunday Examiner SUNDAYEX.CATHOLIC.ORG.HK
HONG KONG (SE) In a call to the universal Church to give its support in any way it can, Father Sergio Ticozzi says that a recent visit to the mainland has left him quite rattled in seeing the difficulties that Catholic people are facing in their everyday faith lives.
The Italian priest from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions and former member of the staff at the Holy Spirit Study Centre in Aberdeen in Hong Kong says that irrespective of whether they belong to the registered official community or the unregistered unofficial community, those who want to be truly loyal to their faith and to the Church hoe a difficult row.
Although he admits that many of these problems are not particularly new, as they have been the bugbear of Catholic people in China for decades, in many ways the tightening of both practice and regulations from the authorities towards the Church have brought old worries to a head again.
On top of this, Father Ticozzi says that the current dialogue going on between Beijing and the Vatican is leaving many people wondering. The very clandestine nature of what is being discussed has led to many rumors.
In a Church that lives behind the curtains, rumors can run wild like a forest fire in a dry summer.
He said that the one thing that came as a surprise is the cunning pressure that is being applied to members of both expressions of the Church. First from the civil authorities. Also from those people within the church who collaborate with them.
He also notes that while the official Church is being attacked in extremely subtle ways, and, often from within its own ranks, the government is overtly attempting to eliminate the unregistered communities.
Additionally, he says that within the Church people suffer from the interference and abuse of corrupt government officials who manage to unduly influence both Bishops and Priests. Sometimes it is done with threats and sometimes with bribes, which leave people unsure of how to act in dealings with the clergy.
Father Ticozzi points out that “it is well known that Bishops, who are recognized by the Holy See, hold positions of authority in the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.
The people know that the CCPA is independent from Rome and that it promotes illicit ordination as well as other things that are incompatible with Catholic Doctrine.
Then there are Bishops who take part in illegitimate episcopal ordinations and concelebrate with excommunicated Bishops”
Father Ticozzi says that this “leaves many people wondering who their true shepherds are and who they can receive the Sacraments from.”
“But” he points out “the new piece in the puzzle is the Vatican-Beijing dialogue. The peoples’ wondering is partly because many are not really sure what the dialogue is and they hear the rumours that are being spread.”
“Some” he says “asked me if Rome was really accepting the government policy to exterminate the unofficial community, or, whether it wanted hem to join the Patriotic Association.”
Father explained that “the people deal with their uncertainities in different ways. Some hide themselves away, seeking guidance and nourishment only from their Priests, whereas others attempt to deal with the complexities and contradictions as best they can.”
He points out that “either way, many difficulties present themselves. Hiding is not healthy and dealing with complexities with only uncertain knowledge is extremely difficult.
Either way, Father Ticozzi says: “The Church in China is in real need of support from the Universal Church.”