Recent Vatican Pronouncement on China:
Support OR Sellout?
by James W. Bannister, B.A., LL.B.
Relations between the Vatican and the Communist rulers of China look set to change dramatically, though whether for better or worse depends on who you ask.
This month’s communication (January 2007) from the Vatican Press Office “honors the many bishops, priests, and faithful of China, who have, ‘without compromise,’ maintained full communion with the Pope, ‘even in times when the cost is grave suffering.’”
The communiqué also states that Pope Benedict XVI will soon write a letter to Catholics in China. The Vatican message follows a meeting in which several unnamed Vatican officials and Chinese bishops examined “the most grave and urgent” problems for the Church in China and offered their best solutions in light of “the fundamental principles of the Divine Constitution of the Church and of religious liberty.”
To many it sounds harmless. But now we come to the part of the statement which should cause grave concern to all Chinese Catholics and Catholics everywhere.
“There emerged,” the communiqué continued, “the desire to proceed on the path of a respectful and constructive dialogue with government authorities, in order to overcome past misunderstandings.”
The secular media have largely ignored the fine words about the sufferings of the faithful. They focus instead on the proposed “respectful and constructive dialogue with government authorities”, which they interpret to mean that the Vatican is seeking a diplomatic rapprochement with the Chinese communist dictatorship.
It is significant that one name not mentioned in the communiqué is that of Joseph Cardinal Zen. As Archbishop of Hong Kong, the Cardinal had always been an outspoken critic of the Chinese government. When he got his red hat, he gave few signs of softening his approach.
“We should learn from the Holy Father’s example of clearly voicing the truth without being afraid of the opposing currents,” he said on learning of his appointment. Asked whether he would temper his opinions he replied: “I am over 70 — there are things that will be hard to change.”
When Archbishop Zen was elevated, the Communists accused the Vatican of a deliberate provocation. A Beijing spokesman was quoted as saying, “We advocate that religious figures should not interfere with politics.”
Where is Cardinal Zen now? Why was the communiqué issued by a lower-level functionary of the Vatican Secretariat of State?
“Can it be that the Vatican’s state department has revived its 2001 plan to sell out Taiwan and China’s 10 million faithful Catholics for the sake of ‘better relations’ with the godless, merciless killers who rule China today?”
The Communists have made it clear that the resumption of diplomatic relations (broken for over fifty years now) depends on the cutting of diplomatic ties between the Holy See and the Republic of China (Taiwan).
The second question to be “resolved” is the status of the Catholic Church in China. Obviously there can only be one Catholic Church. The Communists will not dissolve the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA), the “church” they created in 1957 to replace the True Church. To do so would mean losing face, which Chinese can never do.
Yet to be faithful to Christ, the Catholic Church cannot acknowledge the CCPA as valid, true or good. It may look like the Catholic Church, but it is both schismatic and heretical!
So we must ask some hard questions. Will the Vatican find itself forced into an immoral compromise? Will they wrongfully try to force the faithful to end their “underground activities” and worship only in the Communist-controlled “church”?
Surely the thousands who have been persecuted, even martyred for the sake of True Faith deserve better!
Jesus Christ, Who died on the Cross as witness to the truth, deserves better. The way out of this dilemma is for the Pope and the Catholic bishops to obey Our Lady of Fatima and consecrate Russia in the solemn, public ceremony as requested by Her.