The Vatican’s deal with China


Finally, the Vatican has done a deal with China, or rather with the ruling Chinese Communist Party that has been conducting an escalating program of repression against religion.

The deal is already drenched in controversy and opposed by many Chinese Catholics and anti-pope conservatives.

But the Vatican hopes it is just the first fruit of a long campaign, begun 25 years ago when the Vatican withdrew its nuncio from Taiwan.

The most recent negotiations were conducted under the supervision of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, Pope Francis’ trusted No. 2 man who negotiated an agreement with the communist rulers of Vietnam back in 1996.

Speculation about the deal reached fever pitch in mid-September when it was leaked to the Wall Street Journal.

The agreement was announced Sept. 22 in a short, detail-free but nuanced announcement.

Indeed, the regularization of bishops’ appointments was always the central goal of these talks that have taken five years to bear any fruit, despite too many misguided reports that the Vatican was prepared to go as far as cutting diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

The Vatican is the only state in Europe that continues to recognize Taipei.

The deal is seen as just a first step by Rome to exerting more influence on the Chinese church. As promised, few of its details have been made public.

It is believed the agreement gives the pope final veto power over the nomination of an episcopal candidate sent to Rome, putting in ink what has been effective practice for some years

For its part, the Vatican has officially recognized eight bishops previously not recognized by Rome and/or previously excommunicated.

One of those bishops died in 2017.

“I don’t think he (Cardinal Parolin) has faith. He is just a good diplomat in a very secular, mundane meaning.” – Cardinal Zen.

This is one of the key points of the deal that has angered leaders of China’s so-called underground Catholics, leaders who have refused to join the Communist Party-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association.

Various estimates, including by the U.S. government, say underground Catholics make up as much as 50 percent of the country’s estimated 10 million -12 million Catholics.

The same estimates say Protestants outnumber Catholics by about 50 million.

Leaked information of the deal triggered a resistance movement whose case had been publicly and aggressively prosecuted by Hong Kong’s politically active retired bishop, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, 86, who was born in Shanghai.

“They’re giving the flock into the mouths of the wolves.

It’s an incredible betrayal,” he told the British news agency Reuters, adding that Parolin should resign.

“I don’t think he has faith. He is just a good diplomat in a very secular, mundane meaning.” Continue reading

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