Pope Benedict XVI has released a letter, dated May 27, 2007, to the Roman Catholics in China. Thank God.
For many years Roman Catholics have lived under persecution in China by the communists. The Patriotic Catholic Church was created by the communists to be a puppet of their regime and to lure the faithful from the one true Church and from their allegiance to the Holy Father. Many Catholics have remained faithful over the years and have suffered the consequences. Ignatius Cardinal Kung Pin-Mei is just one example of many fine Chinese Catholics who have refused to deny the Petrine office.
Unfortunately of late, there has been much confusion about the legitimacy of the Patriotic Catholic Church and about the obligation of Catholics to firmly resist the coercive power of the Chinese government and to capitulate to the heresy of the Patriotic Church. In his letter Benedict XVI, while always exercising charity, clearly affirms that the Catholic Patriotic Association’s formal denial of papal authority is incompatible with Catholic doctrine.
Even after the release of the document there inevitably will be attempts to minimize the importance of the Holy Father’s remarks to the Roman Catholics in China. So much confusion has prevailed up to now. It is not liable to die easily.
For the sake of clarity, in the interests of the persecuted Church in China, and with the kind permission of Joseph Kung of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, we post here a preliminary assessment of the Holy Father’s letter. This is just a preliminary reading of the document. More to come from the Cardinal Kung Foundation, once the letter can be appreciated more thoroughly.