The Continuing Persecution in China and the Damage of the Vatican-China Agreement

08-22-2021Weekly Reflection

On July 30, 2021, the same day a bishop was consecrated under the agreement between China and the Holy See, a Chinese priest was tortured by the Chinese police to force him to join the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (ACPC), a division of the Chinese government's Religious Affairs Bureau. The consecrating bishop was a government puppet, a prominent member of the ACPC and president of the Chinese Bishops' Conference. This name must not be misleading, because this "conference" is also an emanation of the Chinese government.

The Asia News website reports that on Tuesday 27 July a priest from the diocese of Mindong was arrested for refusing to join the ACPC, which claims to be the official Chinese church. Father Joseph Liu was arrested by the police. According to Chinese sources, he suffered "terrible violence" and after "10 hours of torture, six policemen took him by the hand and forced him to sign". The document, which the priest signed under moral and physical constraint, was an official document attesting his membership in the ACPC.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, a former bishop of Hong Kong, has repeatedly warned of the dangers posed by the Vatican's agreement with Communist China. The cardinal described the Pope's actions as "encouraging a schism. You legitimize the schismatic church in China". Cardinal Zen noted that signing to show submission to the "schismatic church" means that "you are deceiving the whole world. You are deceiving the faithful. Signing the document does not mean signing a declaration. When you sign, you agree to be a member of a church under the leadership of the Communist Party. It's terrible, terrible. " In an interview last year, Cardinal Zen again warned that the Communists "never compromise. Sadly how many Catholics clergy or laity can we say that about? The communists want total surrender. And so now we are at the bottom of the pit. ". "With a totalitarian regime, there is no possibility of discussion or bargaining. No, no," Zen warned. "They just want to bring you to your knees." Or to put it another way the title of a book years ago: “You Can Always Trust a Communist…To Be Communist!” We have to pray that Pope Francis and the Vatican abandon this disastrous Vatican-China agreement which repeats the disastrous Ostpolitik of Pope Paul VI which so harmed the Church in eastern Europe. Here are some bullet-points about the failed policy of Pope Paul VI which is being repeated by Pope Francis in his dealings with communist China:

In the 1960s, Popes John XXIII and Paul VI initiated a new Vatican approach to the countries behind the iron curtain, the Ostpolitik. According to its chief architect and agent, Archbishop Agostino Casaroli, the strategic goal of the Ostpolitik was to find a modus non moriendi—a “way of not dying”—for the Catholic Church in the countries of the Warsaw Pact. The tactics included a cessation of all public Vatican criticism of communist regimes, and endless negotiations with communist governments.

The Ostpolitik came close to destroying Catholicism in Hungary where, by the mid-1970s, the Church leadership was owned and operated by the Hungarian communist party, which also was in de facto control of the Hungarian College in Rome. -In Czechoslovakia, the Ostpolitik disempowered Catholic human rights activists, did nothing for those brave Catholic souls who resisted the regime, and empowered a gang of clerical collaborators who served as a front for the communist party and its repressions. -In East Germany, the Ostpolitik couldn’t do much damage because the damage had already been done -In Poland, the Ostpolitik was deftly resisted by the Polish primate, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, working in tandem with the man who would become Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla. (Note:Cardinal Zen is the Cardinal Wyszynski of our day.)

Serious damage was done in Rome, too. There, the Ostpolitik led to the serious penetration of the Vatican by communist secret intelligence agencies, including the Soviet KGB, the East German Stasi, the Czechoslovak StB, the Polish SB, and the Hungarian AVH—nasties who did not play well with other children. During Vatican II, the SB tried to undercut Cardinal Wyszynski by preparing and circulating to all the Council fathers a memorandum questioning the Polish primate’s orthodoxy. In the years after the Council, communist-bloc moles operated in Vatican offices and in the Vatican press corps, compromising the very negotiations so prized by Archbishop Casaroli. (Note: Today the communist government of China has moles and agents of influence everywhere compromising politicians, academics, journalists, by spreading large amounts of cash to get policies and reporting favorable to the communist regime of China. The price of Russian Orthodox observers at the Second Vatican Council that Pope John XXIII agreed to was that there was to be no condemnation of communism and its repressive policies thus abandoning the witness of millions of martyrs and Christians resisting the Soviets and their satellites.**)

Pope Francis rightly wants to re-set many of the default positions in the Roman Curia. The default positions guiding Vatican diplomacy these days badly need re-setting. That re-set must begin with a frank recognition that, whatever its intentions, the Ostpolitik of John XXIII, Paul VI, and Agostini Casaroli was a failure. Why? Because it was based on a false analysis of how the Vatican should deal with dictatorial regimes and a misconception of the Church’s power in world politics today, which is moral, not political or diplomatic. (Emphasis added) These bullet-points come from George Weigel’s article on Ostpolitik in the magazine First Things, which can be accessed here. Also see his biography of John Paul II The End and the Beginning Volume II.

The National Catholic Register recently reports: Catholic priests who minister in China legally are required to sign a paper in which they promise to support the Communist Party in China. They are only allowed to minister in recognized places of worship in which minors under the age of 18 are not allowed to enter. “And above all, they have to praise the glory of the Communist Party,” Cervellera said. According to the Vatican, five bishops have been appointed under the framework established by its agreement with Chinese authorities since 2018. The Church is in need of at least 40 bishops in China that still need to be appointed, according to Father Cervellera. “From what I’ve seen, bishops who have been ordained, nominated, and ordained, they are all president or secretary of the Patriotic Association. So this means that they are very near to the government,” Father Bernardo Cervellera editor in chief of Asia news said.

In the nearly three years since the Holy See entered into an agreement with Chinese authorities in September 2018, the situation on the ground has been very different for underground Catholics than for those under the leadership of the government-approved Patriotic Association. For the underground Catholic community, life has been “very harsh,” Father Cervellera explained. “We have seen some convents of sisters destroyed, churches closed. We have seen priests chased from their parishes and also some seminarians forbidden to study theology … and also bishops who are arrested or in whole house arrest, 24 hours a day,” he said. You can read the whole article here:

(NOTE:**Professor Romano Amerio revealed some previously unpublished facts.“The salient and half secret point that should be noted,” he stated, “is the restriction on the Council’s liberty to which John XXIII had agreed a few months earlier, in making an accord with the Orthodox Church by which the patriarchate of Moscow accepted the papal invitation to send observers to the Council, while the Pope for his part guaranteed the Council would refrain from condemning Communism. The negotiations took place at Metz in August 1962, and all the details of time and place were given at a press conference by Mgr. Paul Joseph Schmitt, the Bishop of that Diocese [newspaper Le Lorrain, 2/9/63]. The negotiations ended in an agreement signed by metropolitan Nikodim for the Orthodox Church and Cardinal Tisserant, the Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals, for the Holy See. “Moscow’s condition, namely that the Council should say nothing about Communism, was not, therefore, a secret, but the isolated publication of it made no impression on general opinion, as it was not taken up by the press at large and circulated, either because of the apathetic and anaesthetized attitude to Communism common in clerical circles or because the Pope took action to impose silence in the matter. Nonetheless, the agreement had a powerful, albeit silent, effect on the course of the Council when requests for a renewal of the condemnation of Communism were rejected in order to observe this agreement to say nothing about it”.

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church quotes Pope Pius XI’s encyclical on Atheistic Communism. This encyclical says the following: Communism is intrinsically wrong, and no one who would save Christian civilization may collaborate with it in any undertaking whatsoever. Those who permit themselves to be deceived into lending their aid towards the triumph of Communism in their own country will be the first to fall victims of their error. And the greater the antiquity and grandeur of the Christian civilization in the regions where Communism successfully penetrates, so much more devastating will be the hatred displayed by the godless.