Rorate Caeli

Cardinal Zen and the Traditional Rite

The hype of the official religious press would lead us to believe that only a few activists and some old senile folks are disposed to traditional forms of the Roman Rite ... Each day brings evidence to the contrary. Today that evidence comes from China. We’ve learned that His Excellency Joseph Cardinal Zen Zekiun, bishop of Hong Kong, wished to celebrate his final Pontifical Mass on April 15, 2009 - less than eight days ago - in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite. This is how the Cardinal wanted to demonstrate his commitment to the liturgical form in China which has nourished numerous martyrs of the Faith.

The Cardinal, who is known for his frankness, also told the many journalists who attended the ceremony that he now wanted to devote part of his retirement life to the faithful who are attached to the traditional liturgy of the Church.

Paix Liturgique


  1. Benedicta8:44 PM

    Marvellous! Here is a true sheperd of the Church who will lead more of the faithful into the EF of Mass. I do have a few grey hair but I am a new convert to the EF of Mass. My faith is completely renewed since I have experienced it. Deo Gratias

  2. Peter8:46 PM

    Sounds cool, but what about the catholics who are attached not only to the liturgy, but also to the traditional teaching, doctrine, and faith of the Church?

  3. ponte9:21 PM

    Cardinal Zen is a great man. Most of us who read this blog are western Catholics who take note of predominately western ecclesiastical matters. [I am speaking about geography and culture, not the occidental (Rome) and oriental (Constantinople) based and rooted facets of Christendom.

    Yet bottom line: we who read this blog and know who Cardinal Zen is should pay great attention to what he says and does and who he is. He is a tremendous man. If he was, perhaps, the Archbishop of Milan or Munich or New York he would have attracted even more attention (and raised more eyebrows) but sometimes God works in the most powerful ways through seemingly pitiful human smallness and subtlety.

    Ad multos annos Your Eminence!

  4. If you were a senior cleric why wouldn't you want to assist the traditional communities in your retirement?

    You know you'll be treated with reverence, respect and with great affection, care and love by those communities, they will involve you in their lives, keep you active and your views will be regarded highly - especially if you are of a conservative bent.

    The alternative is (generally) a banal decline into irrelevance and obscurity with little evidence of any of those positives mentioned above.

  5. Anonymous3:21 AM

    God bless Cardinal Zen and the faithful Catholics of China! Our Dear Brothers in the True Faith!

  6. It is interesting that Cardinal Zen is spending his retirement working with Traditional Groups. He was the first priest to publicly celebrate the Novos Ordo on Mainland China in 1989. He is proof that the New Liturgical Movement cannot be one of tunnel vision, but it has to look to both forms of Roman Rite and move on from there (whatever your preference may be).

  7. God bless this good and faithful servant who I am sure has suffered much living under such repressive communist regimes.

  8. Anonymous1:57 PM

    Because of the PRC's isolation and xenophobia during the 1950's and 1960's Mao and the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association of course did not recognize the authority of the Pope over Catholics in the PRC. If I'm not mistaken I believe that this lead to the unusual instance of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association continuing to use Latin and the Tridentine Mass well into the 70's and 80's. Saying the NO Mass in the vernacular was considered an act of rebellion against the Communists.

  9. Anonymous2:10 PM

    Cardinal Zen reminds me of Bishop Basil Meeking, retired bishop of ChristChurch, NZ and now ecclesiastical patron of juventutem Australia.

    It is reasonable to see how retired bishops act in common. But they are still great blessings to the Church.

  10. Peter5:59 PM

    As far as I know, bishops usually become more friendly towards traditional rite when they retire. I think it's just like Son of Trypho says: fear of falling into loneliness and irrelevancy combined with relative freedom and spare time allowed by their position.

    Also I think that that the Novus Ordo has been introduced to China as late as in 1990s.


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