Sandro Magister gives us the details on the capitulation of Pope Francis to the Chinese Communists:
To judge from what is happening in China, from the sortie of Cardinal Joseph Zen Zekiun, from the Vatican’s reply, from the interview with Cardinal Pietro Parolin and from the words of Pope Francis to Zen, an accord between the Holy See and the authorities of Beijing on the appointment of the bishops would seem to be in the home stretch:
The two dioceses, in fact, in which the controversy was ignited, those of Shantou and Xiapu-Mindong, have remained the only ones in which there are two competing bishops: one that is legitimate in the eyes of Rome and another who is illegitimate, if not downright excommunicated; or viceversa, one officially appointed and recognized by the Chinese government and another who was not and is treated as clandestine.
To clear the field of this anomaly on the brink of schism – a serious obstacle to an agreement – the Vatican authorities have decided, for both dioceses, to “ask a sacrifice” of the two legitimate bishops, to step aside and recognize as the only titular bishop of the diocese the one appointed by the government, legitimizing him and absolving him if he was excommunicated.
It comes as no surprise, therefore, that this decision of the Vatican authorities has wounded not only the two bishops who have been urged to abandon their office, but also a large part of the Catholic community in China, to which Cardinal Zen has given voice.
Nor does it come as a surprise that Pope Francis should have told Zen that he had instructed the Vatican diplomats involved in the negotiation to “not create another Mindszenty case,” alluding to the heroic cardinal primate of Hungary who in 1971 was obliged by the Holy See to leave his country, in 1973 was removed from his position, and in 1976 was replaced with a new primate agreeable to the communist regime.
Zen interpreted these words of Pope Francis as “a consolation and an encouragement,” in addition to an expression of dissent from the pope with respect to the stance of “concession” of the Vatican diplomats.
But it is much more likely that Francis wanted to say something else. Cardinal József Mindszenty never agreed to resign voluntarily from the position of primate, it was Paul VI himself who was constrained to remove him from authority. And it is to this point that Jorge Mario Bergoglio does not want to come. He has told his associates to do all they can to convince those two bishops to resign of their own spontaneous will. In exchange, the Chinese authorities would officially bestow upon the older of them the title of “bishop emeritus” and on the younger that of “auxiliary bishop.”
For his part, cardinal secretary of state Pietro Parolin has defended the justice of the course taken by Vatican diplomacy, the framework of which continues to be traced back to the letter of Benedict XVI to Chinese Catholics in 2007.
But a key element of that letter has certainly been dropped: where it defines as “incompatible with Catholic doctrine” the membership of bishops and clergy in the so-called Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, the main organism through which the authorities of Beijing exercise their full control over the Church. Today this membership is de facto allowed by the Holy See.
Moreover, it is astonishing that the Vatican diplomats are not demanding as a preliminary condition for an accord at least the restoration to freedom of the bishops still under arrest.
Historically Popes, not infrequently, have had to swallow hard and accept terms from odious regimes in order to protect the Church in areas governed by powers hostile to the Church. PopeWatch understands this. However, the underground Catholic Church in mainland China has written a very heroic page in the history of the Church and it is appalling to see all their courage and suffering rewarded with this betrayal by Rome. Go here to get Cardinal Zen’s take on this.