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Tuesday, September 26, 2000, updated at 21:03(GMT+8)

Chinese Catholics Denounce Vatican's Planned Canonization of "Saints"

The Chinese Catholic church Tuesday expressed its indignation at the Vatican's planned canonization of 120 "saints", saying the move "distorts history".

In a statement issued by the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and the Chinese Catholic Bishops College, the Chinese Catholic church expressed its grave concern over the Vatican's planned canonization of 120 Catholics "martyred in China" on October 1, which represents an attempt to distort and tamper history.

The statement notes that the traditions of the Catholic church set strict requirements on canonization, including stringent investigation and assessment procedures, so as to ensure the canonized are worthy of the title.

However, the Chinese Catholic church is surprised at the forthcoming canonization, as the Holy See has never, as required by traditional procedures, sought comments from bishops of the dioceses of those to be canonized and the Chinese Catholic Bishops College, but instead, let "the bishops college of the Taiwan area" decide everything.

This kind of giddy-headed conduct, which has ignored the sovereignty of the Chinese Catholic church, is shocking, it says.

The procedures were confused and quite a few of those to be canonized are notorious, the statement says. The proposed canonization falls on October 1, which is China's National Day, a day that marks the Chinese people getting rid of imperialist and colonialist aggression and pillage, the statement says, and the timing is an open insult and defiance to the Chinese people and the Chinese Catholic church, which "we can never tolerate and accept."

It goes on to say that in the 700-year long history of the Chinese Catholic church, there have been many great Catholics who are patriotic and love the Church, and meanwhile, it has been a centuries-old hope of the Chinese church to have canonized Chinese saints.

However, some of the foreign missionaries to be canonized by the Holy See were accomplices of imperialists in their aggression against China, who have committed severe crimes against the Chinese people, while some of their followers were not martyrs of the religion, the statement says.

According to the statement, while imperialist countries used Catholic and Christian churches to serve their own interests, some foreign missionaries acted wildly against the law and public opinion under the protection of unequal treaties imposed on China, which resulted in over 1,500 "religious cases" in which a large number of Chinese people, including some innocent Chinese Catholics, lost their lives.

The traumatic experiences have remained in the minds of the Chinese people and the Chinese Catholic church, the statement says."We are not willing to recall the painful past or to open the historical scar, but the history can never be denied nor be covered up by anyone."

A commentary of the Vatican's official news service Fides said "The canonization of the Chinese martyrs is a challenge to the courage of the Beijing government", the statement notes. Such a comment reveals the scheme of some people in the Vatican trying to resume their control over the Chinese Catholic church, encourage Chinese Catholics to counter the government and the law, oppose China's socialist system and interfere in China's internal affairs by using religious issues.

"It is a challenge not only to the Chinese government but also to the conscience of the four million Chinese Catholics and the feelings of the 1.2 billion Chinese people," the statement emphasizes.

The statement cites a number of mistakes made by the Vatican, including an erroneous decision made by the Holy See that resulted in a century-long ban of Catholicism in ancient China; the Vatican's demand of Chinese Catholics to remain "neutral" to Japan's imperialist aggression against China during the 1937-45 period, and the Vatican being the first to recognize the puppet Manchukuo regime set up by Japanese imperialists, which had seriously hurt the Chinese people's feelings; and the Vatican's hostile attitude to New China after its founding and the Holy See's encouragement of Chinese Catholics to counter the government, which once pushed the Chinese Catholic church to the edge of precipice.

"The Vatican's erroneous China policy has caused irreparable losses to the Chinese Catholic church," it says.

On the eve of the Church's entering the Third Millennium, "we hope the Holy See would change its hostile policy toward China and will not repeat the historical mistakes to bring about even greater damages to evangelization of the Chinese Catholic church," it says.

The statement says that the Millennium is the year of peace as well as the year of Confession. It strongly demands the Holy See to confess truthfully its historical wrongdoing to the Chinese nation, fully respect the sovereignty of the Chinese Catholic church on the issue of canonization, fully respect the feelings of the Chinese Catholics and stop creating barriers to improving relations between China and the Vatican.

"Let's pray to the God, for the God to grant the Church the virtues of sincerity, justice and benevolence. Under the sacred guidance of the God, the Chinese Catholic church will continue to adhere to the principles of patriotism, faith to the Church, and independence and self-management of the church, to push forward evangelization, score successes for the Chinese Catholic church, and safeguard the holiness and peace of the Holy Church," it says.

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The Chinese Catholic church Tuesday expressed its indignation at the Vatican's planned canonization of 120 "saints", saying the move "distorts history".

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