Media sources report that the Vatican is accusing the Chinese government of unilaterally appointing a new bishop to Shanghai in violation of a “secret pact” that Pope Francis and Chinese officials renewed last October. Shanghai is the largest Roman Catholic diocese in China. Four months ago, the Vatican claimed that China violated the pact by installing a bishop in a diocese that is not recognized by the Holy See. This is what happens when you make a deal with the devil.
The story in Al Jazeera noted that the Shanghai appointment fills a bishopric that had been vacant for 10 years since Bishop Jin Luxian died in April 2013. The Vatican asserted that Auxiliary Bishop Ma Daqin should be running the diocese, but the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) placed him on house arrest in 2012 when he refused to acknowledge the authority of the CCP-controlled Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.
Pope Francis renewed the pact with the CCP despite what the Catholic News Agency calls President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on religious freedom and “brutal persecution” of Uyghur Muslim communities in China. When the pact was renewed in 2020, David Curry of Open Doors USA commented that the results of the Vatican-CCP deal “have been grim.” He noted that after the original pact was signed, “the Chinese government … raided church services, imprisoned non-compliant priests and removed crosses from churches.” Maya Wang of Human Rights Watch wrote of the pact’s renewal that “the Vatican is effectively endorsing the Chinese government’s perversion of religions and is dangerously close to being complicit in the country’s deepening rights abuses.”
CNA noted that the Vatican responded to the earlier violation of the agreement by expressing “surprise and regret.” A Vatican spokesman responded to news of the latest violation by saying: “I have nothing to say about the Holy See’s assessment of the matter.”
When the Vatican and the CCP first signed the agreement on the appointment of bishops in China in 2018, Cardinal Joseph Zen remarked, “They’re sending the flock into the mouths of the wolves. It’s an incredible betrayal.”
“The consequences,” Zen said, “will be tragic and long lasting, not only for the church in China but for the whole church because it damages the credibility.” The Guardian at the time noted that “Pope Francis has vigorously pursued rapprochement with the rising superpower,” which has included the sending of gifts to Xi and dispatching artworks to China. Cardinal Zen has accused the Vatican of “betraying Jesus Christ” and surrendering to the CCP. National Review noted at the time that Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI refused to enter into similar agreements with the CCP.
Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute noted last year that “The CCP has all but destroyed the Catholic underground church and tightened conformity with its teachings over the patriotic church.”
“It’s difficult to see,” said Shea, “how the Pope can possibly succeed in the art of diplomacy when dealing with a force as evil as the CCP.”
Reggie Littlejohn of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers said that since the Vatican-CCP pact took effect, “things have gone from bad to worse for Catholics in China.” The pact, she said, “has been used to bludgeon faithful Chinese Catholics.”
As I noted in a previous column in The American Spectator, CCP leader Xi Jinping once boasted that he knew Goethe’s Faust by heart, which caused the renowned strategist Edward Luttwak to speculate whether Xi has made his own “Faustian bargain” with the CCP by trading his soul in exchange for being granted limitless power. We can now see the result of Pope Francis’ own Faustian bargain with the CCP.
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