Viewing cable 06VATICAN101
Title: CARDINAL ZEN OPTIMISTIC ON HOLY SEE-CHINA RELATIONS

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06VATICAN1012006-06-06 09:55:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vatican
VZCZCXRO9046
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHROV #0101 1570955
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 060955Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0359
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0387
C O N F I D E N T I A L VATICAN 000101 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  6/5/2016 
TAGS: PREL SOCI VT
SUBJECT: CARDINAL ZEN OPTIMISTIC ON HOLY SEE-CHINA RELATIONS 
 
REF: (A) HONG KONG 2050  (B) BEIJING 9291 (C) VATICAN 074 (D) VATICAN 057 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Christopher Sandrolini, Deputy Chief of Mission, 
EXEC, State. 
REASON: 1.4 (d) 
 
¶1. (C) Summary.  Cardinal Zen of Hong Kong, visiting Rome, told 
DCM that both the Holy See and China want to put their talks 
back on track, and that Rome's negotiator will be heading soon 
to Beijing for this reason.  He also commented on his relations 
with Beijing and the Patriotic Association, the slowly improving 
condition of Catholics in China, and the effects of China's 
recent illicit ordination of bishops.  End summary. 
 
 
 
¶2. (SBU)  DCM met Cardinal Joseph Zen June 2 during Zen's brief 
stopover in Rome and discussed the state of relations between 
China and the Holy See, described in paras below by topic. 
 
 
 
¶3. (C) Dialogue between Holy See and China:  Zen said that both 
Holy See and Beijing want the process of dialogue back on track 
promptly.  In fact, he confirmed that Archbishop Celli (ref D) 
will be returning to China in a month or so for back-channel 
talks; he considered this noteworthy since usually a round of 
talks begins with a visit of Chinese officials to Rome, and 
Celli's next trip will bypass that step.  Zen said that when 
meetings happen in Rome, it's normally under the auspices of the 
Chinese ambassador to Italy. 
 
 
 
¶4. (C) Zen's relations with Beijing and the Patriotic 
Association:  Zen said the PRC government was afraid to contact 
him.  The government hears distorted reports about him from many 
people, but also some positive reports from party members who 
know and like him.  Thus, said Zen, they are confused.  As for 
leaders of the Patriotic Association, they never even try to get 
in touch with Zen, and he doesn't want to hear from them. 
 
 
 
¶5. (C) Situation of Catholics in China:  Overall conditions are 
improving, but remain problematic.  There are fewer arrests, 
generally for shorter duration, and in less harsh conditions; 
but the arrests themselves are unjust and remain a serious 
concern.  Zen also recalled the continuing unexplained 
disappearance some six years ago of two bishops. 
 
 
 
¶6. (C) Illicit ordination of bishops:  Zen dismissed suggestions 
that his elevation to cardinal had angered Beijing enough to 
proceed with the subsequent illicit ordinations of bishops; he 
did not see the two actions as at all comparable.  (In other 
words, the Holy See's promotion of an existing bishop to 
cardinal status is a small thing compared to the very serious 
step of China's having ordained bishops without approval from 
Rome).  Zen attributed the ordinations entirely to the Patriotic 
Association, whose actions he believes are merely tolerated by 
the government, not encouraged by it.  Zen predicted that all of 
the bishops involved in the illicit ordinations (two ordained, 
eleven others participating) will seek reconciliation with the 
pope.  Everyone will shun the excommunicated bishops, this is 
very serious for them.  The bishops find ways to communicate 
with Rome, said Zen; in fact, he was carrying with him a letter 
from one of the bishops seeking exactly that. 
 
 
 
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COMMENT 
 
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¶7. (C)  Zen was direct, energetic, and open.  He said he is in a 
difficult position having both to look after Hong Kong and also 
help the Church on the mainland.  He also spoke warmly of his 
relations with the US Consulate General in Hong Kong.  Zen's 
confirmation of Celli's plans, and his overall optimism, is 
somewhat surprising given the general impression here that 
normalization of relations had come to a standstill in the wake 
of recent controversy. 
 
ROONEY