'Thou hast given a warning to them that fear thee: that they may flee from before the bow: That thy beloved may be delivered.' ~ Psalm 60
In an article for The Week, columnist Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry last week issued a public lament over the Vatican's once thinly veiled but now revealed plan to officially recognise eight Bishops of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church - those appointed and ordained by the Chinese Government to oversee the 'Chinese version' of the Catholic Church acceptable to the Chinese Communist State.
In the words of Gobry, whose analysis of the situation of the Church in China is both sober and alarming, all that is now needed is the 'final nod' (and dare I say a wink) from Pope Francis and President Xi Jinping for the 'deal' to go ahead.L et us just recall for a moment that this is the China of a one-two child policy, forced abortions, forced sterilisations, a repulsive and diabolical practise of organ harvesting and trafficking, repressive crackdowns on political dissidents and religious freedom, factory-based suicide encouraging slavery, zero working rights and horror upon horror.
Being no expert in the history of diplomatic relations between the massively repressive totalitarian regime in China and the Vatican, I feel somewhat unqualified to write a lengthy post detailing the ins and outs of the somewhat harrowing but compelling and inspiring story of Chinese Catholicism.
However, there are dire consequences of this move, not only for the credibility stock value of the commodity which is Pope Francis, which will take an objective nose dive no matter what the 'investors' say, and also for the Church in China. The reality is, however, that the implications do not, I expect, stop there. Furthermore, the signals coming from Rome, which do not require a thorough knowledge of the Chinese situation, no matter what the 'diplomatic' history - a history marked by persecution and faithful, courageous martyrdom, are not good.
|Cardinal Zen makes bold statements on Francis and China|
Let's be clear about the Church and Pope Francis. By capitulating to the tyrannical demands of the Communist Government in China, just one of the growing list of thoroughly nasty regimes with which Pope Francis is willing to open up new avenues of 'dialogue', Francis will be not only sending a signal to China's Catholics unwilling to burn incense before the emperor in remaining loyal to the true Catholic Church, nor merely selling out the Catholic Bishops remaining faithful to the Holy See while risking their own skins, but also sending a wider signal to the Church and the World. This signal should not go unnoticed or remain passed over without comment because it is ground-shaking in enormity.
The horrifying wider signal is this:
Where the Church is oppressed, under siege or in danger, persecuted and faithful, support from Rome will be withdrawn and its oppressors will receive the solidarity that rightfully belongs to the oppressed.
Events since 2013 have shown this to be so. And before we begin to think that this is - under the reign of Francis - a new experience - isn't this just precisely what faithful Catholics are now getting used to?
|Papal fidelity: Pope Francis with Fidel Castro|
Today, however, whether it is Venezuelan dictators, Cuban dictators, Bolivian dictators, Chinese dictators, those in the UN who would wish to dictate from on high to nations on abortion, population, artificial contraception and same-sex marriage, the dictates and demands of the international man-made climate change movement, whoever it may be, it is they who receive 'a fair hearing' and opportunities for 'dialogue' and a 'culture of encounter' with the new regime in the Vatican. Their victims, past, present and future, receive no such solidarity.
We saw this, most vividly at the Synod on the Family and within the pages of the risible document that was its intended result - that those loyal to the Magisterium - to Jesus Christ Himself - have to look elsewhere than Rome - apart from one or two individuals in dicasteries and certainly not the papal office - for moral, doctrinal or even 'diplomatic' support.
|Pope Francis blesses Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro|
The 'underground Church' - the only Church of the future
Need it be mused upon, indeed, that the fate of the true, authentic 'underground Church' in China will become very quickly, under the reign of Pope Francis the fate of the 'underground Church' in Europe and perhaps the world over? Wherever there is injustice and oppression, it seems, whether it be found among the innocent who have offered their lives in holy poverty, chastity or obedience in the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, or whether you campaign for the unborn, or try to defend your nation from the overturning of the definition of marriage, or worshipping within countries oppressed by ideologically driven dictators, the only fraternity you will find is among those who, like you, are on the side of justice and truth, those on the side of Christ. He will be on your side, your refuge is Him.
|Cardinal Burke with the FFI in happier days|
The visible head of that Church we believe to be Pope Francis, but he doesn't have to belong to that Church if he does not want to. If he - and those he has gathered around him, wants to sell out Christ, betray the Faithful, dishonour the Church, abandon the persecuted and cosy up to totalitarian regimes and the advocates of inhuman ideologies, to corrupt politicians and highly paid pawns of the political and economic world, pen lamentable exhortations on 'love' that cast authentic Christian love aside, as well as having fun with Lutherans while those down the road from him try to rebuild after the latest natural disaster to occur in Italy, that's his choice and the choice of those he has around him.
|Cardinal Robert Sarah|
Like all of us, the Pope has been given the ultimate gift of free will to be used for good or for evil. It will help him enormously if he comes to an understanding of the difference between the two and begins to teach it to the Faithful. What use the Pope makes of the power and authority entrusted to him he will have to render an account - as all of us shall - before the Throne of God's Judgement. As Rome begins to prepare for what more and more looks like it is shaping up to be an Extraordinary Year of Doom, let us pray that he, and we, will be ready to give that account and find God's mercy.
|'If you don't like my principles, I have others.'|
|All this and forced abortion too...|
Cardinal Zen has been so bold as to tell the Church in China that if Pope Francis recognises the eight Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association bishops, the Pope should not be followed. One really begins to wonder whether if a Cardinal loyal to Jesus says that, whether he is talking only to Catholics in China, or whether he is, in fact, speaking to the heart of, and indeed speaking on behalf of, every Catholic endeavouring to be faithful to Christ throughout the entire world.
Pray for the authentic, true Church in China and the Church endeavouring, to the great iirritation of those in high authority in the Vatican, to be faithful to Jesus Christ, to His teaching and to His promises, throughout the whole World.