The Vatican and the Communist Chinese Government signed a Provisional Agreement. Full terms have never been released, but it deals with the appointment of bishops and expires on October 22, 2020. Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin reported the Pope’s intention to maintain the Accord. Critics assert that the Agreement advances the Communist Regime’s control over the Catholic Church, that it represses dissent, and procures the Pope’s silence on human rights abuse in China.
The tangled history of the Catholic Church in China dates to the Tang Dynasty in the 8th Century. When the Communist Chinese Party took control in 1949, missionaries of every faith were forced to leave the country. Legal religious worship was permitted only through the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, which does not recognize the authority of the Pope. In 2018 when Beijing and Rome signed the Agreement, Beijing accepted Francis as the head of China’s Catholics.
Pope Francis highlights areas of human rights abuses to the world in his Sunday addresses. Not a word has passed his lips about the horrific abuses in China. Francis remains silent about the government persecution of Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, devotees of Falun Gong, the atrocities against the Uyghurs, the repressions in Hong Kong, and in Tibet.
American Catholic conservatives are hostile to the Pope’s outreach to China, his denunciation of free-market capitalism, his open-borders proposals, and his Al Gore-endorsed global warming encyclicals. Detractors include Cardinal Raymond Burke and former White House adviser Steve Bannon. Francis remarked “It is an honor if the Americans attack me.”
Documents show that the George Soros Open Society Foundation worked to create a profusion of American bishops and lay Catholics to support Pope Francis during his 2016 visit to America. Francis advocated socialism on that trip. Author Sam Wise wrote “The Catholic Spring: Wikileaks Reveals How George Soros, Obama, and Hillary Orchestrated a Coup Against Pope Benedict for Their Puppet Pope Francis.” Benedict XVI was the first pope in 600 years to vacate the Chair before death.
President Xi Jinping’s 5-year policy of “Sinification” requires that religious believers be more loyal to the Communist Party than to their religion. One of the worst persecutions is the Uyghur Muslims in Yanjing. Yanjing was East Turkestan until 1949 when it became part of China. There are 380 documented ‘re-education camps’ which look like massive high security factory complexes. More than 1 million Uyghurs have been tortured, beaten, and interrogated in these nightmare forced-labor camps. Each camp in Xinjian is over 25 acres with 90-100 buildings over 12 stories high. Government officials drag men and women from their homes for minor offenses, such as not eating pork. Families are told nothing. Some are returned after a year or two; some are never seen again. There are credible rumors about organ harvesting from prisoners at re-education camps. A letter condemning the Chinese leadership was signed by 22 countries and sent to the Human Rights Council at the United Nations.
Ambassador to the Holy See, Callista Gingrich, hosted an event in Rome for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week. Pompeo declared “Nowhere is religious freedom under assault more than in China. The Chinese Communists Party has battered every religious community in China: Protestant house churches, Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong Devotees, and more. Nor have Catholics been spared this wave of repression: Catholic churches and shrines have been desecrated and destroyed. Catholic bishops like Augustine CuiTai have been imprisoned, as have priests. And Catholic lay leaders in the human rights movement, not least in Hong Kong, have been arrested. The Church is in a different position. Earthy considerations shouldn’t discourage the principled stances based on eternal truths and, as history has shown, Catholics have often deployed their principles in glorious, glorious service of human dignity.” Secretary Pompeo requested an audience with the Pope to express apprehension about continuation of the Agreement between the Vatican and Beijing. Pope Francis denied Pompeo’s request. Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong was distressed about renewal of the Rome/Beijing agreement. He flew to Rome, but also was denied an audience.
Was Francis afraid that Pompeo or Zen would influence his decision, or was he determined to side with the Communists; perhaps Francis was apprehensive about sending the wrong message to Beijing.