Editor’s note: Clarion Project’s latest short documentary, “Covert Cash” (see below), explores the corruption and lack of transparency in U.S. universities that accept cash from China and other nefarious foreign governments in exchange for influence and a foothold in the United States. The following article explores yet another influence op by China – this time on the Vatican, with the complicity of the pope.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to meet with Pope Francis September 29, 2020, in Rome to discuss, among other topics, the accord the Vatican made with China.
In 2018, the Holy See, the universal government of the Catholic Church, made a secret, provisional agreement with China. Although the contents of the agreement have remained under wraps, the agreement has to do with seeding the appointment of bishops to the communist government (after which they are confirmed by the pope).
Writing in First Things about the accord, Pompeo notes, “The church’s hope was that it would improve the condition of Catholics in China by reaching agreement with the Chinese regime … “
However, Pompeo says, “The human rights situation in China has deteriorated severely under the autocratic rule of Xi Jinping, especially for religious believers. Credible reports have exposed the Chinese Communist Party’s program of forced sterilizations and abortions of Muslims in Xinjiang, its abuse of Catholic priests and laypeople, and its assault on Protestant house churches … Now more than ever, the Chinese people need the Vatican’s moral witness and authority in support of China’s religious believers.”
Pompeo reportedly will ask the pope not to renew the agreement with China.
.@SecPompeo: Reports have exposed the [CCP’s] program of forced sterilizations and abortions of Muslims in Xinjiang, its abuse of Catholic priests and laypeople, and its assault on Protestant house churches… the Chinese people need the Vatican’s moral witness and authority. https://t.co/DV4iNzbOI0
— Department of State (@StateDept) September 19, 2020
In January the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen, who has been the leading voice for persecuted Catholics in China, sent a letter to the College of Cardinals imploring them to denounce the agreement the Vatican signed with China’s Communist Party (CCP).
Zen, referring to the Vatican document’s pastoral guidelines of the Holy See concerning the civil registration of clergy in China (of June 28, 2019), said:
“First of all, I cannot believe that there is such a statement in the agreement, and I do not see it there. (By the way, why must such an agreement be secret, and why is it not granted even to me, a Chinese cardinal, to see it?) But, even more clearly, the whole reality after the signing of the agreement shows that nothing has changed.”
A Brief History of Vatican Agreements with Nefarious Regimes
This is not the first time the Holy See has made agreements with an authoritarian state:
- The Lateran Treaty of February 11, 1929, ended a long and troubled historic, diplomatic and political journey that led to the dual recognition between the Italian state and the Vatican City state. However, the treaty served to allow Italian dictator Benito Mussolini to consolidate his power and, with the support of almost the entire Italian Catholic hierarchy, lead Italy into two wars: the one against Ethiopia (1935) and World War II.
- The Reichskonkordat between the Holy See and Nazi Germany was signed on July 20, 1933, by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Eugenio Pacelli (the future Pope Pius XII) — despite the misgivings of Pope Pius XI — and Franz von Papen, the Vice-Chancellor for Adolf Hitler. It ensured the loyalty of bishops in Germany to the state through an oath and required that all priests in the country be Germans and subject to German superiors. Restrictions were also placed on Catholic organizations in Germany.
In the 1960s, the Church began, under its principal architect, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, the strategic policy of Ostpolitik — the normalizing relations and openness toward the Warsaw Pact nations (the satellite countries of the Soviet Union).
The policy included ending all public criticism against communist regimes and endless negotiations with these rogue governments. The results were, to put it mildly, terrible:
- In Hungary in the mid-1970s, the leadership of the Church and its properties were micromanaged by the Hungarian Communist Party, which also had de facto control of the Hungarian College in Rome.
- In Czechoslovakia, the ostpolitik empowered a band of Catholic collaborators to serve as a front for the Communist Party and its repressions.
All of this began to end with the election of Pope John Paul II in 1978, who challenged and revealed the hypocrisy of the Warsaw Pact communist dictatorships. It was through the efforts of this pope, together with then-President Ronald Reagan, that communism in Poland collapsed, triggering a domino effect that brought down the other communist regimes, including eventually the Soviet Union.
Present-Day Relation with China
The Vatican, for the time being, has defended its intention to renew the two-year accord with Communist China, one of the greatest human rights violators in the world, as demonstrated by the CCP’s demographic genocidal pursuit of the Uighur Muslims, among other gross violations.
To give just one example in terms of Christianity, both the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China and AsiaNews.it have reported that Chinese authorities have demolished the crosses on top of churches, including in the diocese of Xinxiang in Henan Province.
Father Shanren Shenfu, a Chinese priest, explained that silence in the face of the destruction of crosses is part of the price for the Vatican’s agreement with the CCP.
“Now when a cross is removed, Christians must be calm and smile. Accepting the removal of crosses as a daily occurrence therefore seems to be the only great contribution that the Chinese Catholic faithful and all the people of God can make to the continuation of the agreement,” Shenfu said.
Watch Clarion Project’s latest short documentary, “Covert Cash”: