For the good of Chinese society and the defense of people, the Catholic Church must engage in dialogue and work with those who defend the traditional values found in Confucianism, said Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong.
Cardinal Zen told the world Synod of Bishops on the Bible Oct. 15 that, before being written as the Scriptures and incarnated in the person of Jesus, the word of God was the force that created beauty, the universe and the human person.
And, he said, the traditional Chinese wisdom founded in and fostered by Confucianism contains the "seeds of the word" of God that the Second Vatican Council said are present in religions and cultures.
Cardinal Zen said the church in Hong Kong has developed a healthy dialogue with followers of Confucianism, aimed particularly at "trying to preserve the precious heritage of Chinese wisdom."
"If, moved by charity, we are able to instill in the younger generation the Chinese virtues of fidelity, honesty and shame, we will have helped them take a big step toward holiness," the cardinal said.
In too many instances, he said, the Chinese people are losing contact with their traditional values, as is seen in instances of corruption and attacks on human life, marriage and the family.
It also is seen in the "silencing of the voice of conscience by which, with the aim of easy profits, some have gone so far as to contaminate milk and damage the health and the life of defenseless children," he said.
Chinese milk contaminated with melamine, an industrial chemical, has been blamed for killing at least four infants and making tens of thousands of babies sick since mid-September.
Chinese authorities blamed dairy suppliers for the scandal, saying they added the chemical, usually used in plastics and adhesives, to watered-down milk to make it appear richer in protein.
The chemical can cause kidney stones or even death, but until the scandal broke in mid-September the Chinese government did not have a defined limit for acceptable levels of melamine, which can leach from plastic packaging into food products.