By John Follain
While Pope Francis battles rare criticism from senior clergy in the Vatican, he’s facing a warning that the Roman Catholic Church risks devastating division from Asia.
Cardinal Joseph Zen — the retired but still outspoken former archbishop of Hong Kong — told Bloomberg News last month that he wrote to Francis to denounce efforts by the Vatican to reach a landmark agreement with Beijing on the appointment of bishops in China. Zen cautioned in a July letter that such a deal, which could lift a barrier to restoring diplomatic relations with Beijing, may also create a schism among the local faithful.
“Francis is too optimistic,” said Zen, 86. “The trouble is that he doesn’t know the Chinese government. He doesn’t have experience of a Communist regime.”