Verbiest Update Information on the activities of Verbiest Institute KULeuven nr. 46 – January – 2019
As the Holy See signed its agreement with Beijing last September, Pope Francis said in his letter to the Catholic faithful in China that he understands their disappointment. Indeed since last September Chinese faithful look up to their shepherds for guidance. But surprisingly some shepherds themselves expressed in strong words their own personal disappointment and disagreement. Some even spoke of betrayal of the Church in China by the Holy See. A shepherd who criticizes the decision of the Pope in such language may seriously upset the conscience of the faithful. Instead of being a minister of unity he would even cause division. I heard echoes of this while I was recently in China in Taiwan as well as in Hong Kong. Some concerned faithful suffer and are lost because of statements made by shepherds. The media eagerly publish this kind of critical headlines causing more confusion and uncertainty. Nowadays all Chinese Catholic faithful urgently seek clarification and enlightenment. Chinese bishops understand this very well. Some of them offer their faithful new signals of hope. One bishop invites his clergy for a 3-day meeting to share and exchange background information on the new hope but also on the challenge created by the agreement for the future. Another bishop (or several bishops?) consider to offer guidance to the faithful through a pastoral letter. Elsewhere, faithful met already to listen to different views of the clergy on the agreement of Rome with Beijing. They engaged in frank brotherly exchange seeking understanding and unity. The three local Churches of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong are like the three Magi at Christmas searching the sky to find the Star of Bethlehem that may shed new light and guide them towards peace and unity around the new-born Jesus. The star of Bethlehem brings signs of hope among the confused community of Catholic Chinese faithful.