According to AFP, Bishop John Tong is seeking to unite the different Catholic groups in mainland China and the rest of the world. As the bishop himself pointed out, “(We will spare no effort) to promote unity among the different groups of the Catholic Church in the mainland, and to see them enjoy full religious freedom as early as possible, so that they can make greater contributions to society.”
As is well known, the Catholic Church in China is divided between those who are loyal to the Patriotic Catholic Association (PCA) and an underground church that is loyal to the Vatican. The PCA was created by the Communist government during the early 1950s to stifle those bishops and priests who were loyal to the Vaticand. In essence, it is a Communist run organization that seeks to keep tabs on the Church in China.
The underground Church in China consists of those Catholics, who are opposed to the PCA and are loyal to the Holy See. These Catholics have suffered a tremendous deal from the Communist regime. Priests have been arrested, tortured, and killed, while nuns and sisters have been sent to re-education camps by the Communist government. Countless people have been martyred in the underground Church and the intolerable division has continued into the present day.
It seems to me that Bishop Tong will do his best to seek unity for the two groups. While His Excellency would like to see unity achieved as quickly as possible, there will be a great deal of negotation that must take place between the undergounrd Church and the PCA. I am sure that these negotiations will be fraught with difficulties for both sides. However, we must pray that the ecclesiastical situation in China will be resolved sooner rather than later.
Our Lady of China, pray for us!
St. Joseph, pray for us!