“I think it is my duty, given this special opportunity to inform my eminent brothers, that there is still no religious freedom in China. There is too much optimism around something that does not correspond to reality…”
Cardinal Joseph Zen Zekiun
These words of Cardinal Zen spoken at a day of reflection convoked at the Vatican November 19, 2010 were confirmed a few days later when Chinese communist authorities, without papal approval, appointed Father Guo Jincai a bishop. In a further provocative action, communist officials forced bishops loyal to Rome to take part in elections for the government-run Catholic Patriotic Association and Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church. Ma Yinglin, an unlawfully ordained bishop, will head the Bishops’ Conference. Fang Xinyao, a bishop in communion with the Pope, will lead the Patriotic Association. Neither structure is recognized by the Vatican. Father Bernardo Cervellera a missionary of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions and Director of Asia News stated Chinese officials are sending a clear message that the communist party and not the Vatican is in charge of the Chinese Church.