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The China-Vatican Betrayal - 2

False-right Heroes of the
China-Vatican Agreement

Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D.
In my last article, I responded to Jan’s question about the recent China-Vatican accord, the so-called provisional agreement that cedes the right to choose Bishops to the Communist-controlled Chinese ‘Catholic’ Patriotic Association (CPA). The Vatican and progressivist supporters of the deal pretend that it will unite the Underground Church and the CPA. In fact, the deal (which favors only the Communist regime) signs a death sentence to the authentic Catholic Church in China.

beijimg church

The agreement delivers the Underground Church to the communist regime on a platter

Some protesters of the accord are claiming Pope Francis, who is so kind and “pastoral,” just doesn’t understand the communists. He just doesn’t realize how rigidly they control the Patriotic Association and the Bishops Conference, and how ruthlessly they continue to persecute the Underground Church.

It is beyond naïve to imagine that Francis, kept informed on crucial matters like this by the highly sophisticated and updated Vatican diplomatic corps, is ignorant of the significance of this agreement. He understands it perfectly.

By the way, he makes no secret that part of his formation he owes to a communist chefe he had before becoming a priest. Francis – like John Paul II and Benedict XVI – simply wants union with the communists at any cost, and the price is to sacrifice the faithful Underground Catholics and favor China by legitimizing a communist regime.

Thus, with this disastrous agreement, Francis is just following and furthering the policy of Vatican Ospolitik that has been promoted by the conciliar Popes without exception since John XXIII. This is the point the news media – including conservative and traditionalist outlets – are ignoring.

Shifting the blame from Francis

Many of the critiques I have read place all the blame for the betrayal of the Underground Catholic Church on Francis, while others shift the guilt to Card. Pietro Parolin, Francis’ Secretary of State, who oversaw the negotiations.

This is absolutely not true. What we are seeing is the final consequences of a long policy of Vatican Ospolitik initiated by John XXIII and followed by Paul VI, who opened all the doors he could to dialogue with countries run by communist regimes.

china delegation to Rome

Francis poses happily with CPA members from the Diocese of Suzhou & their bishop Zu Honggen

To further this policy, John Paul II cut Vatican funds and support for the Underground Church and moved it to the CPA. In the US and Hong Kong, JPII approved Maryknoll initiatives to train priests and women religious for the communist-controlled CPA, acting as if it were operating legitimately. For the last 20 years the CPA priests and parishioners have been welcomed in Rome while Underground priests seeking support and solace have been turned away.

I knew one Novus Ordo turned traditionalist priest, Fr. Stephen Somerville, who had made several missionary trips to China to assist the CPA at the request of the Vatican. Only after he became traditionalist did he realize he had been fostering the communist-controlled Church and betraying the heroic Underground Church. He was following the general policy of the Vatican to treat the CPA as the established Church.

Benedict the traitor

And so we come to our first false-right hero who is being glorified in recent reports on this agreement: Benedict XVI. The accord could have never happened under Pope Ratzinger, many proclaim. Again, this is an absolutely false statement.

It was Benedict XVI who made the great step forward toward this deal when he issued his Letter to the Church of China in July 2007, making the first official call for ”reconciliation“ among all Catholics there. Unfortunately, traditionalists and conservatives were so busy celebrating his release of the Summorum Pontificum a little earlier that month, they ignored that Judas kiss.

church destruction china

Destructions of Catholic churches in China have increased since Benedict's Letter

church destruction china
What did he do in that Letter? Most important, he officially revoked a set of directives that allowed Bishops in the Underground Church to ordain new Bishops without the individual-case-approval of the Vatican. The directives were intended to maintain the Underground Church and allow it to endure in its position of resistance to the Communist Regime.

Revoking this permission left the Underground Church without any means to continue. When old Bishops die, there are no new ones, only the ones being named by the communist authorities for the CPA.

Benedict’s Letter stated firmly for the first time that cooperating with Chinese Communist State requirements did not constitute a betrayal of Catholicism. The practice of Catholicism and the “safeguarding of the faith,” he said, is “not itself opposed to dialogue with authorities.”

So, Bishops and priests who had spent decades in jail were being asked to dialogue with the very ones who persecuted them for their refusal to compromise. Forget past offenses, Benedict told them, and “show charity” toward those “who think different from us in social, political and religious matters.”

Benedict’s 2007 Letter to Chinese Catholics was a landmark introducing a new phase of negotiations that ended with Francis’s agreement. Both were profound betrayals of the millions of suffering authentic Catholics in China.

Card. Zen holds to a false obedience

And so we come to the second bogus hero in the China-Vatican dialogue, Card. Joseph Zen.


Zen, a false-right hero who ultimately counsels submission

Card. Zen, Archbishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, has become the passionate advocate for China’s Underground Church and fierce critic of the recent Vatican rapprochement with Beijing. The 88-year-old Zen has led an international chorus of conservative critics who say this deal is a sellout to the Communist Party and an insult to those who suffered under oppression.

Very true, very commendable. But Card. Zen supported such an accord years ago under John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Indeed, he was an unwavering supporter of Benedict’s Letter to the Chinese Catholics. He alleged the Letter had been misinterpreted and that it opened the door to a constructive dialogue and a deal where both sides make reasonable compromises. Therefore, he is not opposed to a deal. He is now claiming he is against this particular deal, probably for some political reason. I do not believe he is the hero the media is presenting him to be.

In fact, Card Zen studiously avoids any criticism of any Pope, even in this nefarious accord. “I have the principle that I would never publicly criticize the Holy Father,” Zen has announced on more than one occasion.

And so he finds a way to exonerate Francis. It is clear, Zen announces, that the Pope “didn’t know the details” of the planned deal. It is all the Vatican bureaucrats ’ fault, and especially Card. Parolin, who is a “good mundane diplomat” without real faith. He should resign, he declares. Thus Parolin becomes the perfect scapegoat for Zen.

china flag at mass

China communist flags mix with rosaries at a CPA Mass

Finally, the “firebrand” Zen, another champion of the false-right, in the end dooms the Underground Church to its fate by sadly and ruefully directing its members to obey the Vatican.

It is the same policy of false obedience that led the post-Vatican II Church to accept the Novus Ordo Mass and doctrinal errors that came from the Council. The same Mass and teachings, by the way, that Zen himself has always enthusiastically accepted and promoted...

“If he [Francis] signs any deal they want, we can only accept it, without protest,” Zen has stated publicly. “The best position for the Underground Catholics to take,” he suggests, is “to remain neutral,” which would be very difficult, he acknowledges, but better than active resistance, which would “make the government very happy” because it could provide a pretext to increase its persecutions. For those who cannot join the CPA, they can “pray at home.”

The plausible outcome of Zen’s solution for the Underground Church is that it will gradually be dissolved. As each Underground Bishop retires or dies, Rome and Beijing can simply replace him with a bishop who belongs to the ‘Catholic’ Patriotic Association.

In the end, the “firebrand” Zen is a necessary agent to help the agreement be accepted by the authentic Catholics.

A small hope: signs of resistance

Also the signs of resistance to the Vatican order to the Underground Church to surrender without a fight to the State-controlled CPA are not being reported.

As I noted some time ago, there is already a resistance movement stirring in the northern Hebei Province, one of the strongest centers of underground Catholicism. It is led by Fr. Paul Dong Guanhua, who made a public statement announcing that he had been secretly ordained as a Bishop 11 years ago, according to those special faculties the Holy See had granted the Chinese Church. He also affirmed his intent to ordain more Bishops, in defiance of Benedict’s Letter, in order to strengthen underground Catholics.

underground church new martyrs

Some Chinese Catholics are taking the position of resistance, even in face of persecution & death

In response to this “defiance,” the Vatican affirmed that it had not authorized Dong’s ordination, and, if it occurred, it was a breach of Church law and Dong was officially removed from his position. But, Bishop Dong continues to say clandestine Masses and it seems that more in China are following his lead.

“The word ‘compromise’ sounds good, but to some churchgoers it will sound like you are abandoning your faith,” he said. “People say I am trying to break away, but in fact I am sticking to the old road, while the Vatican’s policy changes.” These words ring with a familiar tone in the ears of Western traditionalist Catholics who have assumed the same position of legitimate resistance to the conciliar Popes when the latter break with the 2000-year Magisterum of our Holy Church.

It is difficult to find news of this resistance since both China and the Vatican oppose it virulently. Still, news reports surface here and there from sources that usually remain anonymous to protect their lives.

I read one such testimony declaring that many underground communities have already declared that they will not join the CPA because they cannot do so in good conscience. Their first concern is no longer “disobedience to the Pope,” but “a final attempt to safeguard the freedom of the Gospel from being engulfed in a state and political structure” that actively persecutes the Catholic Faith.

In February of 2018, another group of influential Catholics published an open letter warning that a Vatican deal with the Chinese regime could create a schism in the Church in China. It seems to me that this active dissension – as long as they follow the correct path of resistance and not of a schism – is the hope for the future of the Catholic Church in China. We hope to see the rise of an authentic resistance, Catholics prepared again to shed their blood rather than compromise with Communism.

chinese flag over vatican


Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted October 26, 2018

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