The China Sellout: Giving Communists Power over the Apostolic Succession
Fatima Perspectives #1236
“In the future, no rights and privileges of election, nomination, presentation, or designation of bishops are granted to civil authorities.” So provides the law of the Church as codified in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, can. 377, § 5.
Under the “secret” agreement the Vatican has just signed with the Chinese Communist regime in Beijing, of whose looming pendency this column has been warning since Francis became Pope, Francis has tossed that canon to the winds (along with Canon 915, concerning the impossibility of Holy Communion for those persisting in manifest grave sin, including the divorced and “remarried”).
Most ironically, however, Francis has also discarded the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on the same subject in its decree Christus Dominus (1965) 20:
“Since the apostolic office of bishops was instituted by Christ the Lord and pursues a spiritual and supernatural purpose, this sacred ecumenical synod declares that the right of nominating and appointing bishops belongs properly, peculiarly, and per se exclusively to the competent ecclesiastical authority. Therefore, for the purpose of duly protecting the freedom of the Church and of promoting more conveniently and efficiently the welfare of the faithful, this holy council desires that in future no more rights or privileges of election, nomination, presentation, or designation for the office of bishop be granted to civil authorities….”
But it should be obvious at this point in what has to be one of the most disruptive and divisive pontificates in Church history, Francis could not care less what canon law or Vatican II or any other source says to the contrary of whatever it is he would like to do in the process of realizing his “dream” of “transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.”
Granted, even today certain countries retain residual rights of consultation with the Vatican respecting the papal nomination of bishops. But no country has the right to nominate bishops, thus determining who a successor of the apostles will be subject only to a papal veto. Even in Vietnam, “reunified” under its communist regime in 1975, the Vatican went no further by way of compromise — and this was awful enough — than to agree in 1996 that “the Holy See proposes a set of three bishops to the Hanoi government, and Hanoi makes its choice.”
Under this “secret” agreement with Beijing, however, Francis has given the power of nomination itself to communists in Beijing, allowing a pack of atheist dictators to designate their preferred successor of the Apostles whom the Pope can only veto, but not too many times before Beijing simply has him consecrated a bishop anyway. And how many papal vetoes are too many? We don’t know, because the agreement is secret.
Into the bargain, Francis has agreed to recognize the legitimacy of the Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA), the pseudo-church invented by the Beijing regime, and to recognize as legitimate seven of its illicitly consecrated schismatic bishops. Two of the seven are “alleged to have girlfriends and fathered children.” No problem!
And what did the Vatican receive in return for this sellout? Only Beijing’s meaningless “recognition” that the Pope is the head of the Catholic Church. In common parlance: whoop-dee-doo.
Finally, immediately after the secret accord was secretly signed, the CPA declared that it will “carry forward the principle of independence and the concept of the sinicization of religion while remaining on the path that leads to socialist society.”
A socialist society? In Quadragesimo Anno, the monumental social encyclical published on the fortieth anniversary of Leo XIII’s own social teaching landmark, Rerum Novarum, Pope Pius XI condemned the very notion of a “socialist society”:
“If Socialism, like all errors, contains some truth (which, moreover, the Supreme Pontiffs have never denied), it is based nevertheless on a theory of human society peculiar to itself and irreconcilable with true Christianity. Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.”
The betrayal of the persecuted Catholics of the true Church in China is total and complete. And after the betrayal was accomplished, Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin had the supreme audacity to declare that “today, for the first time all the Bishops in China are in communion with the Bishop of Rome, with the Successor of Peter.” The communists in bishops’ garb may be in communion with Francis on a human level, for whatever that is worth, but they are hardly in communion with eternal Rome. Their unholy see is located in Beijing and their first allegiance is to the Party, not the Pope. Hence the obscene spectacle of the Chinese pseudo-church proclaiming its commitment, not to Christ, His Church and His Vicar, but to socialism and the “siniciziation of religion,” meaning its corruption into a form acceptable to the communist overlords of Beijing.
As Stephen Mosher observes, this despicable agreement “will benefit the Chinese Party-State, which will use it to assert its control over the Underground Church in China. It will tell the faithful that the Pope himself has recognized the Communist-run Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, and that each and every one of China’s 12 million Catholics must worship only in its churches. It will intensify its attack on the Underground Church, using the borrowed authority of the Vatican itself as an ideological assault weapon.”
Hong Kong’s Cardinal Joseph Zen, who did everything in his power to prevent this travesty, warned that the then still-pending agreement would be a “‘complete surrender’ that amounts to the Pope and high-ranking Vatican officials ‘giving the flock into the mouths of wolves.’” May God help the persecuted Catholics of China, fed to the wolves by their own shepherd.