In dialogue with Prof. Agostino Giovagnoli in search of “Elements of clarity”
Wuhan virus forces us to stay home. Tired of this forced lack of real contacts, I look for “virtual” ones on the internet. An article gets into my eyes and it was written by Professor Agostino Giovagnoli on 6th March with the title “The letter from Cardinal Re to all cardinals offers elements of clarity on the long negotiation with Beijing.”
I have not read the professor’s writings for a long time already because he once had the shamelessness to deny having attacked me in one of his writings.
This time I regret having fallen into the temptation to read it because now I cannot resist another temptation to answer it, wasting the little energy that still remains of this poor 88-year-old.
What made me lose patience was the arrogant talk about patience and truth at the beginning of his article.
When did the domineering gentlemen in the Vatican, and especially the Vice-Pope Cardinal Parolin, ever have their patience?
The respectable Commission for the Church in China has been made to disappear without a word of dismissal; the highest officers of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples were quietly got rid of!
And the truth? Is the authority to supervise the protection of the truth of faith now passed from the Congregation for Doctrine to the Dean of the College of Cardinals? But isn’t it declared that the Dean is “Primus inter pares,” without any authority over his cardinal brothers?
I always found Cardinal Re a nice person, and he will still be such for me. But what makes him competent in Chinese matters more than a Chinese cardinal with long and privileged experiences and frequent contacts with the Chinese reality still today? Just because the Secretary of State confers on him such competence?
And by doing so, are they not afraid to disavow the great talk of Pope Francis regarding “periphery”?
On one thing we agree with our professor: the importance of the question, yes or no, that there has been a continuity between the recent Pontiffs regarding the line in dealing with China.
I am not here to repeat a long speech. Reading my book For Love of My People I Will Not Remain Silent will help. But it is also enough to read my answer to Cardinal Re on 1st March with a supplement on 10th March.
The two previous Popes obviously encouraged dialogue in the hope of reaching a “good agreement,” but they certainly would never accept a “bad” one, that is, an immoral agreement, even if it is “the only one possible.”
I stand on my word: “I have ground to believe, and I hope one day to be able to demonstrate with archival documents, that the agreement now signed is the same one that Pope Benedict had, at the time, refused to sign.”
After all, the controversy can be easily resolved: as long as I see the secret agreement (in Chinese and Italian text) and Cardinal Re shows me the evidence from the archives referred in his letter.
To the question “then why was the agreement not signed 10 years ago?” The professor says the answer is simple: there have been objections and resistances, the same as today.
Here there is an ignorance of the facts.
At the time of Cardinal Tomko, the negotiator, who was Msgr. Claudio Celli, would inform the participants of certain “secret meetings” (of the two dicasteries, the Secretariat of State and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, plus some experts from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) on the progress of the negotiation.
At the time, instead, of the negotiator Msgr. Parolin (with Cardinal Dias behind), the negotiations were kept exclusively to the “insiders,” not even the members of the Commission for the Church in China knew about it, so objections and resistance was not an issue.
Lately the negotiations still remain “top secret.” But rumors have leaked, on which speculations construed and objections arise against them.
Cardinal Re, who certainly knows the content of the Agreement, only tells us “it includes the intervention of the Pope’s authority in the process of appointing Bishops to China.” But is this a big win? Doesn’t it seem too little to you? Would it not be preposterous if the Pope had no right of intervention at all?
It is known that even without an agreement, there was a way of compromise: the Vatican and Beijing tried to come up with names of candidates who are “acceptable” to both sides. But now with the agreement, Beijing no longer needs to make this effort. They have the right to present whoever they want, and they will see if the Pope dares to veto it, and for how many times (assumed that this right of veto really exists in the agreement).
The professor solemnly tells us that our use of the word “Ostpolitik” is improper. Obviously, we are not talking about Germany or Europe but about Chinese Communism. The word is currently used to mean the “compromise strategy” in face of a totalitarian regime. It makes no difference whether it is Pharaoh or Nero, Hitler or Stalin, Mao Zedong or Xi Jinping; a totalitarian power admits no compromises. It wants unconditional surrender, slavery!
The Lord has been too good to the Italians. They have not suffered under a true totalitarian regime (Mussolini’s fascism can hardly be qualified as totalitarianism regime), so they have difficulty knowing how terrible a true totalitarian regime, especially an atheist regime, could be.
The professor, again, wants to make a point to remind us that it is improper to say that the Pope signs an agreement.
Ok. We know very well that that the negotiator is the undersecretary of the Secretariat of State; the one who signs could be he or his superior, the archbishop secretary of the Secretariat of State; and always with the approval of the Secretariat.
These subtleties do not tell the whole reality. While Msgr. Parolin was the negotiator, he was really the one who negotiated, with Cardinal Dias in his ears, and they both tried to get over Pope Benedict (this is my belief), but when Msgr. Camilleri was the negotiator, it was (always according to my belief) always completely under the dictate of Parolin.
Cardinal Re quoted correctly my serious objection to the “pastoral guidelines” of 28th June but replied with the gratuitous affirmation that “they were designed precisely to safeguard the faith.” It seems that he has not read carefully my “dubia,” which I had presented to Pope Francis on 1st July and that His Holiness promised me three days later to take note of it. But to date, I have not yet received an answer word.