Cardinals Vs. Pope: Who is “confusing” the faithful?


Chinese Version

A friend sent me an online article titled U.S. Cardinal: Pope Francis Is “Increasing the Confusion” Among the Faithful. The article points out that the American cardinal Raymond Burke criticized Pope Francis again in an interview on April 4, because in the exhortation Amoris lætitia, Francis indicated that the divorced and remarried Catholics, after a period of discernment and preparation, can receive the sacrament of reconciliation and communion (see Chapter 8 for details). Cardinal Burke stated that such a statement was “playing around” the Church’s traditional principles and teachings. It not only puzzled some lay faithful and clerics, but also caused great scandal. In view of this, the lay faithful or pastors are obliged to “correct” the Pope’s mistakes. But he also emphasized that «this is not an act of disobedience, but obedience to Christ and his Vicar on Earth».

Immediately afterwards, Cardinal Burke and Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, another “dubia” signatory two years ago (the other two passed away last year) trying to “correct” Pope Francis earlier, took part in a seminar in Rome on April 7th. The theme of the seminar was «Catholic church, where are you going? Only a blind man can deny that there is great confusion in the Church». During this seminar, they issued six “confessions of faith,” calling on the lay faithful and pastors to uphold the Church’s clear teaching on family and marriage, and reject ambiguous attitudes. Taking this opportunity, Cardinal Joseph Zen, the retired bishop of Hong Kong, also appeared at the seminar in the form of a recorded video. He urged the participants to speak for the Church in China that could not speak for herself, so as to let the “Church center” who «did not understand China’s real situation understand». In the past years, Cardinal Zen’s constant criticism against the Holy See would inevitably include such a pressing question: «Is joining the Patriotic Association and recognizing the illegal bishops a violation of the principles of the Church?». With that also came the declaration and corresponding actions: «I have the responsibility to protect the Pope from being misguided by the “bad guys”, and I have the responsibility to let the world know the truth».

The friend who sent me the link to the article also expressed his opinion: «Cardinal Burke sees people as good and bad in the name of God, but Pope Francis sees everyone as a beloved child of God. No wonder Cardinal Burke is confused!».

His words made me muse for a long time! – There is no doubt that the highly respected Cardinals mentioned above are greatly dedicated to the faith and the Church, but what puzzles me is the following: Why are they not only very different from other Cardinals on some key issues, but are also out of tune with Pope Francis? Why are there so many tendencies in the end to split the court and part ways while everyone is so keen on defending the faith and protecting the Church? It had been like this in the past, how come it’s still like this in the 21st century? In the end, I returned to the comment of my friend and had to nod my head to his observation: The difference between people’s vision and attitude is the best explanation for «different choices with the same good intention!».

Not long ago, I translated the contents of an interview given by Cardinal John Tong, who is also the retired bishop of Hong Kong. In the interview, Cardinal Tong said that the “vision” that guides Pope Francis to dialogue and negotiate with the Chinese government is «the Kingdom of God» rather than the success or failure of certain period, or the benefits of certain groups of people. It is with this vision, in accordance with the spirit of “Vatican II Council” and the gospel teachings, that the Pope and the Holy See under his leadership are committed to the mission of making the world a united family and all humanity brothers and sisters. However, if one cannot understand this passage from Lumen gentium of the “Vatican II” document, one must not agree with the “great vision” of Pope Francis explained by Cardinal Tong: «From this source the Church… receives the mission to proclaim and to spread among all peoples the Kingdom of Christ and of God and to be, on earth, the initial budding forth of that kingdom. While it slowly grows, the Church strains toward the completed Kingdom and, with all its strength, hopes and desires to be united in glory with its King» (No.5).

As early as the 1970s, Marcel Lefebvre, the Archbishop of France, could not accept the spirit of “Vatican II”, so he led a group of believers and clerics out of the Catholic Church and established “The Society of St. Pius X”. The reason why he chose “Pius X” as the “patron” was because Pope Pius X strongly opposed “Modernism”, and also sanctioned and even excommunicated many forward-thinking Church philosophers, theologians, Bible scholars. Among them was Fr. Alfred Loisy, a French theologian and Church historian. He was not only opposed to treating the Book of Genesis as a strictly historical and scientific work, but also saying that «Jesus came to preach the Kingdom of God, but what came in the end is the Church!». He was therefore excommunicated in 1908.

We are now already in the twenty-first century. Whether it is about the issues related to the pastoral care for the divorced and remarried Catholics as suggested by Amoris lætitia, or about the Vatican-China relations, the aforementioned Cardinals obviously could not agree with Pope Francis. They are all focused on maintaining the traditions and interests of the “Church.” Their hearts are commendable and their intentions are laudable, but their concrete actions and methods cannot but leave people asking this questions: Where did the vision of the Kingdom of God Jesus preached, taught and practiced go? !

Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest from France, had long been sanctioned by the Church authorities for his efforts to connect science and religion for the understanding of Christian faith. Fortunately, he was not excommunicated. As early as in 1926, he wrote in his letter from China to his good friend Father August Valensin: «I feel more and more that the Catholic Church is no longer Catholic. We are only defending a system, a sect!».

In the era of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, Fr. Teilhard de Chardin’s theological and spiritual thoughts are being re-acquainted and gradually accepted by the Church and society at large, including the aforesaid two Popes, but the “motinum” (warning) issued in 1962 by the Holy See’s Congregation of Doctrine of Faith has not been canceled officially. As a little “Teilhard admirer”, when I introduced his theological and spiritual thoughts through lectures at different places in China and abroad, I still have to face certain Church people objecting and even boycotting me with “high” emotions, afraid that I would bring “confusion” to the faithful and endanger their faith life. Therefore, sometimes I also ask myself: Am I “confusing” the faithful now or they had been “confused” long ago, but some are simply afraid or unwilling to let them out of “confusion”? !

枢机主教 Vs.教宗:到底谁在“困惑”信众?

朋友发给我一篇网络文章,题目是《美国枢机:教宗方济各在信众中“增加困惑”》。该文指出,美国籍枢机主教波克(Raymond Burke)在4月4日接受采访时再次批评教宗方济各,因在其《爱的喜乐》(Amoris Laetitia)劝谕中,表示说离婚再婚的天主教教友在经过一段时期的分辨和准备后,也可以办告解、领圣体(详见第八章)。波克枢机称这样的表态是在“玩弄”(playing around)教会传统信仰原则和教导,不但让一些教友和神职人员感到困惑,而且造成恶表。鉴于此,信众有义务“纠正”教宗的错误,但他也强调说,这样做不是不服从(教宗),而是服从“基督和祂在世的代表”云云。

紧接着,波克枢机和另一位(其他两位已于去年去世)同他一起“纠正”教宗方济各的枢机主教博兰德缪勒(Walter Brandmüller)于4月7日参加了一场在罗马举办的研讨会,主题是《天主教会,你往哪里去?——只有一个瞎眼的人会否认在教会内有很大的困惑》。在此研讨会期间,他们发表了六点“信仰宣言”,呼吁信众和牧者维护教会在家庭与婚姻方面清晰的教导,拒绝模糊不清的态度。借此机会,香港荣休的主教陈日君枢机也以视频的方式,出现在研讨会上,并邀请与会人士替“不能发声”的中国教会发声,让“不了解中国情况”的“教会中心”了解真实情况。而陈枢机这些年来,对教廷在中国教会问题上的批评也不乏这样一句紧逼教廷表态的话:“加入爱国会,承认非法主教为合法到底是否违背教会的信仰原则?”随之而来的当然也是“我有责任保护教宗不受’坏人’的蒙蔽,我有责任让全世界了解真相”之类的宣言及行动。



不久前,我翻译了同样是香港荣休主教的汤汉枢机在罗马时接受不同媒体采访的内容。汤枢机在访谈中说,指导教宗方济各同中国政府对话、谈判的“愿景”是“天国”,而非一时的成功得失或某些特定人群的好处。正是在这一源自“梵二”精神和福音教导的愿景指引下,教宗及其领导下的教廷,在致力于让全世界成为一家、让全人类成为弟兄姐妹的使命。然而,倘若一个人无法理解“梵二”《教会宪章》中的这段话,则一定无法认同汤枢机所解释的教宗方济各的“伟大愿景”:“教会……接受了宣布基督及其天主之国,以及在各民族中建立的使命,而成为天国在人间的幼芽和开端。于是,教会在逐渐发展,期望天国最后成功,全力期望与其君王在光荣中结合”(no.5)。早在上个世纪七十年代,法国勒菲尔总主教(Marcel Lefebvre)就无法接受“梵二”的精神,于是他领着一批信众和神职人员脱离了天主教会,成立了“比约十世兄弟会”(The Society of St. Pius X)。而他之所以选“比约十世”为“主保”,不外是当年的比约十世教宗坚决反对“现代主义”(Modernism),而且封杀、绝罚过不少“思想超前”的教会哲学家、神学家、圣经学家。其中包括1908年遭绝罚的法籍神学家、教会历史学家罗伊西(Alfred Loisy)神父,他不但反对将圣经《创世纪》视为严格的历史和科学作品对待,而且说过“耶稣来宣讲的是天国,但最后到来的却只是教会”这样的话!


同是来自法国的耶稣会神父德日进(Teilhard de Chardin),也长期因他将“科学和宗教”结合起来理解基督信仰的努力受到了教会当局的排斥,但庆幸的是未遭绝罚。而他早在1926年从中国写给自己好朋友瓦伦辛(August Valensin)神父的信中就感叹说:“我越来越觉得,大公教会(Catholic Church)已经不是大公教会了,我们只是在维护着一种体制、一个教派!”


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