We are entering the last two weeks of the Liturgical Year, the reading of the book of Revelation brings us to the last days of human history, in which we are living. “Blessed is the one who reads aloud and blessed are those who listen to this prophetic message and heed what is written in it, for the appointed time is near.” (RV. 1:3)
Today (on Nov 16th morning) we read the message St. John transmitted to the angel of the Church in Ephesus: “I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate the wicked, you have tested those who call themselves Apostles but are not, and discovered that they are impostors.” (RV. 2:2)
Forgive my lack of humility, I am too promptly identifying myself with this angel of the Church of Ephesus. But don’t worry, I am going to meditate also, even more seriously, on the second part of the message “yet I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first…Repent, and do the works you did at first.” (RV 2:4-5) (I surely prayed more and better when I was a novice and later as a young priest)
The first part of the message brings me back to the unfinished business with DW News.
They interviewed me and had my views ‘corrected’, then the ‘corrected’ version went viral. Actually, commonplaces are being repeated the hundredth time by so many ‘expert parrots’, those are lies from the ‘not so holy’ Holy See, to be more precise, from Cardinal Parolin.
Lies repeated one hundred times, especially from so solemn rostrum, can pose a risk to become truths. So bear with me if now I come to tell you for the hundredth time that those are lies.
The discussion began with a question: “should the ‘Agreement of 2018 between Beijing and the Vatican regarding nomination of Bishops in China’ be renewed?”
But how can we know the content of the agreement which remains secret? Not to mention we can form an opinion on the subject. Parolin says it is a good agreement, but we have reason to fear that it is a bad one, by judging from all the facts before, during and after the signing of the Agreement.
(1) Before the signing of the Agreement. The signing of the Agreement was a conclusion of a long process, the Ostpolitik, which is the policy of compromise, (and its final goal a diplomatic success – the reestablishment of Sino-Vatican relation). In the past twenty years or so a group of power in the Holy See supported the Government-controlled Church in China and neglected the “underground” Church, which was against the direction of Pope JPII and Pope Benedict.
The two popes who had the experience of living under totalitarian regime had no faith in Ostpolitik.
Now Pope Francis, with very different experience, has sympathy for the communists. In South America they are often persecuted by the Government. But the communists in China are persecutors of the Church, just like Nazis and Communists in Europe, where the Ostpolitik was a failure.
Given these many years of appeasement policy, we could only expect an agreement which is not good. They say it could not be perfect, but imperfect doesn’t mean ‘bad’. (Parolin even said that a bad agreement would be better than no agreement! This is beyond my understanding).
We don’t know the content of the Agreement, but we can reasonably have a conjecture of it from the compromise strategy of Vatican for almost 20 years.
The Holy See approves ‘secretly’ one or two names of ‘acceptable’ candidates for Episcopacy, the communist Government ‘secretly’ finds them also ‘acceptable’, a fake election of the named is staged, the Holy See approves the elected, then the Ordination is performed (the ‘Pontifical Bulla’ of nomination is not read during the Ordination, but before it, in the sacristy). In this way illegitimate Ordinations can be avoided.
But these ‘secret’ deals are no guarantee. How many times, under pressure, the Vatican may have accepted the names chosen by the Chinese Communist Party? There are cases when it would have been too much for the Holy See to surrender, and you still have the illegitimate bishops.
So, a written agreement would be better? But what kind of agreement is it?
In the present situation, as we have just reviewed, the best you could expect was an agreement similar to that the Holy See made with the Hungarian Government, described by a Hungarian theologian Andràs Fejérdy in this way: “…the Holy See accepted a solution that did not formally violate the canonical principle of free appointment, but in practice gave the Regime a decisive influence in selecting candidates”.
Besides, have our Vatican first-class diplomats forgotten the lesson of history: the concordat signed with Napoleon and the one with Hitler? You cannot trust the words of totalitarian powers, they believe that their power dispenses them from honoring their words.
While carrying on a dialogue with the Vatican, the Chinese Communists never relented from their persecution of the Church. What little signs the Vatican got to justify their optimism? The Chinese Government even refused to talk about bishops and priests under their detention (some elderly bishop ‘disappeared’ for more than twenty years! Some priest is reasonably believed to have been ‘suicided’!)
With such reality before the signing of the Agreement there was no justification to hope that the agreement would make any progress for the freedom of the Church. It’s not the beginning of a journey in the right direction, as Parolin keeps saying, but the final fall into the pit from a slippery slope!
(2) Something terrible happened in the occasion of the signing of the Agreement, something seemingly not connected with the Agreement, was made to happen in the occasion: they legitimized seven ‘bishops’ ordained without the consent of the Pope, illegitimate and excommunicated.
Many legitimizations were granted by JPII when Card. Tomko was the Prefect of the Congregation for Evangelization, starting from the end of the seventies. Given the new open door policy of the Chinese Government and the easier communication with the Vatican, several bishops in China ordained illegitimately before Cultural Revolution made petition to the Holy Father for legitimization. After due investigation, they were certified to be good priests who accepted to be ordained bishops illegitimately only under heavy pressure (resistance to the Party could lead to imprisonment or Labor camp detention where many died). They were finally pardoned by the Pope and promised to be good shepherds of their flock, and the faithful were happy to see their bishops legitimized.
But the seven in question are much different. They were not under heavy pressure and for many years they acted defiantly, used the sacred power they have usurped to ordain deacons and priests, and to take part in Ordinations of other illegitimate bishops. Two of them notoriously do not live in celibacy.
Now the Holy See did not only lift their excommunication, but recognized them as bishops of seven dioceses, of which two originally had their legitimate underground bishops but were asked to step down and give way. Unbelievable! How could the Holy See assign such wolves to be shepherds of the flock.
They show no public sign of repentance, no gratitude for Holy Father’s forgiveness but go around chanting victory because they were clever to side all these years with the government, to which they eagerly and loudly profess their loyalty.
Apparently their legitimization must have been the condition the communists imposed on the Vatican in order to accept the Agreement, but connecting the two things together conveys an impression that the seven are patterns of bishops to be nominated according to the Agreement. If so, God’s house is going to become the ‘robbers’ den’! Where is the new possibility for evangelization?
(3) Facts after the signing of the Agreement
The Agreement is secret, but from leaked pieces of information, we learn that the process would start from China and not from the Vatican: ‘democratic’ election and presentation of the elected by the so-called ‘Bishops Conference’ to the Holy See (all this within a freedom ‘Chinese style’). The initiative now is in the hands of a atheist totalitarian regime.
– ‘Parolin & Co.’ says, “the last word belongs to the Pope, the Chinese Government has finally recognized the Pope as the Supreme Authority in the Catholic Church!”
I don’t believe such words would be found in the Agreement, unless they show me the chinese text of it (we chinese are masters in playing with words!).
Even if the Pope is granted the power of veto, how many times he can use it without embarrassment? And, after a veto the choice of another name is still in the hands of the Government. It is obvious that the written Agreement is worse than the unwritten compromise practiced before.
– Parolin says “the Agreement is only about the nomination of bishops, we should not confuse it with other things”.
How can you make such abstraction? Do you think an Agreement can exempt the Catholic Church from being a target of the war waged against all religions?
I don’t mean that all the facts happened in these two years are caused by the Agreement, but they happened in spite of the signing of the Agreement.
By the way, as a matter of fact, the Agreement itself caused nothing, no appointment of a single bishop took place. The two Ordinations have been approved long before the Agreement (It is ridiculous to say that the Agreement has been working smoothly).
With an agreement you might expect a more friendly relation and a more kind treatment, but just the opposite. At the time the Agreement was signed, a new wave of persecution started: regulations restricting religious freedom, once ‘dormant’, were revived and harshly enforced: minors under 18 years are no more allowed to take part in any religious activity, underground places of worship were shut down, Masses in private homes were no more tolerated, those caught on the spot were punished with heavy fine and imprisonment.
The worst thing comes from the secret nature of the Agreement: being secret it became the convenient tool in the hands of the Government to demand everything from the catholic faithful, e.g. telling the underground to come up and join the Patriotic Association, the independent (schismatic) Church, telling them that it is in the Agreement, it is the will of the Holy Father.
Card. Filoni came out and told the people “not to be cheated, it is not in the agreement” (Probably this was the reason he got fired just two years before he would reach the retirement age).
Parolin could not contradict Filoni but did something much more ‘radical’, he did what was not in the Agreement, inviting everybody to register with the Government by signing a form declaring one’s participation in the ‘national’ Church (Pastoral guidelines, concerning the civil registration of clergy in China, 28 June 2019).
Obviously Parolin drafted the document. It was issued in the name of ‘the Holy See’ without specification of the competent department and without signature (neither his nor that of Card. Filoni, who was at that time still the Prefect of the Congregation for Evangelization). A document with such heavy theological implication was not even submitted to the examination by the Congregation for Doctrine!
I took a flight to Rome immediately and put my “dubia” into the hands of Pope Francis, I sent copies of the dubia to all the Cardinals. As response came the ridiculous letter of the Dean of Cardinals, G.B. Re.
All this, they say, is my personal view! However I believe I am stating facts!
What is their view?
– Parolin says the Agreement is a great achievement, “it is only possible to sign now, but the draft has been already approved by Benedict XVI.”
This is a blatant lie and an insult to our Pope Emeritus. I am sure Benedict XVI refused to sign it in 2010.
– “The Agreement is a breakthrough. All the bishops in China are now legitimate, the Church is one.”
Many bishops are legitimate only because you put on them the label ‘legitimate’, but they openly profess their loyalty to the State authority according to the principle of Sinicization i.e. absolute obedience to the Chinese Communist Party. Unity is now achieved in a ‘bird cage’!
– “There will be illegitimate bishops no more!”
There is no guarantee, an atheist totalitarian regime doesn’t keep promises. Even worse, the virus of Ostpolitik may still cause the Vatican to allow unworthy persons to be ordained as bishops (better unworthy bishop than no bishop?).
– “Bishops, priests and sacraments are essential for a normal life of faith!”
Yes when we are in the normal situation, but we are under persecution now. In time of persecution you may be forcibly deprived of the sacraments, but you cannot renounce your faith!
“Back to the catacombs!” This is what I tell my desperate brothers in China, “God is in your heart, in your family, when you (taking some risk) pray together. Let’s wait for better times, they may not be very far”.
Mr. Martin Gak, the religion expert at DW News avoids the word ‘Ostpolitik’, but puts it as ‘engagement’. Does he not realize that the whole world is in a state of awakening before the danger of “engagement” with an evil system?
– He says that with engagement you can have your man on the spot to help your people.
Obviously, he doesn’t know that the Papal Nuncio in Budapest needed the permission from the Government to meet any member of the local Church.
– He says again “no agreement would leave the faithful in an unfavorable situation, at the mercy of the Government”.
How can he ignore that everybody in China is at the ‘mercy’ of the Party?
– Finally he describes the firmness in Faith as ‘a comfortable posture of spiritual pride”.
He simply doesn’t know what is faith.
– “Dialogue, not confrontation”!
True dialogue is possible only when the two are on equal ‘sitting”’. If you are on your knees, you are in no position for a dialogue. The defeated (in a war) can never get a fair peace accord! Your long-time astounding silence on many human rights violations has put you on the seat of the defeated.
Then, can you hold the rabbit guilty of confronting the lion? We believe firmly: The Lamb of God will take care of both the lion and the rabbit!