The Vatican’s China Policy: A Devilish Consistency
by Christopher A. Ferrara
January 19, 2016
More than fifty years after it emerged during the Second Vatican Council, the Vatican policy of Ostpolitik (“East politic”), which calls for the coddling of communist regimes for the sake of supposed diplomatic gains, continues to dominate Vatican diplomacy.
At the Council, Ostpolitik resulted in the disgraceful Metz Pact, or Vatican-Moscow Agreement, according to which, in exchange for the presence of two Russian Orthodox observers during its proceedings (very much desired by John XXIII), the Council agreed to be silent regarding the communist persecution of the Church in Soviet Russia and China and the evils of communism in general. The Council thus deliberately ignored one of the greatest of the “signs of the times” the same Council purported to be reading.
Today, Ostpolitik drives the Vatican’s fawning accommodation of the Red Chinese regime in Beijing, which continues to persecute the “underground” Catholic Church, whose clergy and laity reject state control and swear allegiance to Rome. As China’s underground Catholics worship clandestinely, Beijing operates its own pseudo-Church under the name Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA), in existence since the 1950s. The CPCA routinely nominates new bishops, which its state-controlled prelates then consecrate without a papal mandate, thus incurring for both the consecrating bishops and the new bishops they consecrate the penalty of automatic excommunication.
Now it appears that a Vatican team of negotiators visited Beijing in October for the purpose of discussing whether the Vatican will approve Beijing’s nomination of bishops going forward — and this while the relentless persecution of the underground bishops loyal to Rome continues, with two of them under arrest for years. According to current Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, “Both parties were focused on the problem of the nomination of bishops.”
Problem? What problem? A secular government, much less a communist one, has absolutely no power, right or authority to nominate bishops, so there is no “problem” to solve. But when a Modernist deploys the world “problem” to describe some aspect of Catholic doctrine or discipline, you can be certain that doctrine or discipline is under attack. As Benedict XVI once observed: “The authority of the Pope to appoint bishops is given to the Church by its founder Jesus Christ, it is not the property of the Pope, neither can the Pope give it to others.”
Is a betrayal of the underground Catholics in China about to take place? Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, the Bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, thinks so. The lone voice of dissent among the cardinals, Cardinal Zen protested: “Our clandestine communities are nonexistent in the eyes of the government. But the Vatican itself does not take them into account in negotiations. Is this to grant a request from the Chinese Party? To save the situation, these brothers and sisters are to be abandoned? But they are the healthy members of the Church!”
For the sake of Ostpolitik, the Vatican continues to treat the loyal Catholics of the underground Church as if they did not exist. As Cardinal Zen relates: “In early September, some of the faithful from Shanghai who had spent a long time in prison went on a pilgrimage to Rome, accompanied by their relatives, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Great Persecution, September 8, 1955. They were told, ‘Don’t draw too much attention to yourselves, the past is past, we must look to the future!’ What concerns me is the sight of our illustrious Secretary of State still intoxicated by the miracle of Ostpolitik.” Indeed, Cardinal Parolin recently eulogized the very architect of Ostpolitik, the late Cardinal Agostino Casaroli.
Given the Vatican’s endless prattling about “religious freedom” for “all believers,” embracing every so-called religion and sect from the Animists to Zoroastrians, it would seem that all this kowtowing to a regime that brutally suppresses the true Catholic Church in China is flatly inconsistent with Vatican policy. But, in fact, there is an underlying consistency between the two seemingly contradictory positions: they both oppose the Catholic Church’s mission to make disciples of all nations.
The first position opposes the Church’s mission by embracing the very error condemned by Leo XIII in his landmark encyclical Libertas: “to treat the various religions (as they call them) alike, and to bestow upon them promiscuously equal rights and privileges” in political society, thus reducing the Church to just another association of “believers” rendered powerless before the almighty State. The second position does the same by facilitating the persecution of the Catholic Church in China.
As the reader will gather, the underlying consistency in the two positions is the consistency of the devil in his long war against the Church. It is “diabolical disorientation” that causes the Vatican to demand “religious freedom” for all “believers” on the one hand while studiously ignoring a massive deprivation of the freedom of the one true Church on the other. Such is the ecclesial disease that erupted during and after the Council and is now reaching its most acute stage with the Vatican of Pope Francis — the same disease whose emergence and course are foretold in the Third Secret of Fatima.