U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote an article for the religious magazine First Things on Sept. 18 urging Vatican authorities to use their influence to expose religious persecution by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at an upcoming meeting of the two parties this month to renew a controversial agreement, Breitbart reported.
In 2018, the Vatican and the Chinese communist regime signed an agreement that remains a secret to this day, but what is known is that the Vatican can choose some of the bishops for the dioceses in China and since signing the agreement, the Vatican has barely managed to maintain regular communication with Beijing. However, the CCP has the final say, and of the 100 bishops elected until the end of 2019, 69 were selected by Beijing and only 31 by the Vatican, according to American Magazine.
In view of the imminent renewal of the agreement this month, although the date has not been announced and may be kept secret due to the rejection of the agreement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a fervent believer himself and defender of freedom and human rights, took the opportunity to remind Vatican authorities that the agreement so far has not achieved anything essential and the ordeal experienced by believers of different faiths in China under the Xi Jinping dictatorship has worsened.
“Two years on, it’s clear that the Sino-Vatican agreement has not shielded Catholics from the Party’s depredations, to say nothing of the Party’s horrific treatment of Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong devotees, and other religious believers,” Pompeo noted in his article.
According to estimates from the Minghui.org website, the Falun Gong movement has at least 70 million adherents and is the largest spiritual group being persecuted in China today. According to an independent court in the United Kingdom, the China Tribunal Falun Gong practitioners are used as a live organ bank to supply the black market for transplants.
The CCP’s reputation is at its worst, associated among other things, with the mishandling of the CCP Virus that caused the pandemic and Hong Kong’s new security law under which authorities began arbitrarily arresting those who spoke out against the communist dictatorship. Perhaps the renewal of the agreement with the Vatican can be seen as something positive diplomatically for the CCP, but only on the surface and that is what Secretary Pompeo’s words indicate.
“Communist authorities continue to shutter churches, spy on and harass the faithful, and insist that the Party is the ultimate authority in religious affairs,” he wrote.
Pompeo pointed out to Vatican authorities the responsibility they bear for being the ultimate worldly authority for millions of Catholics around the world, “The Holy See has a unique capacity and duty to focus the world’s attention on human rights violations, especially those perpetrated by totalitarian regimes like Beijing’s.”
The Trump administration has unleashed a battle against the religious persecution by totalitarian regimes like the CCP and has hardened its stance by taking concrete measures such as banning visas for individuals involved in these crimes, or imposing economic sanctions on companies in the same situation. Even the assets these perpetrators possess in the United States are now being confiscated by the government under the Magnitsky Act, according to a White House statement.
Pompeo warned the Vatican, “If the Chinese Communist Party manages to bring the Catholic Church and other religious communities to heel, regimes that disdain human rights will be emboldened, and the cost of resisting tyranny will rise for all brave religious believers who honor God above the autocrat of the day.”
Pompeo concluded his letter by encouraging the Vatican to follow what it professes, “I pray that, in dealing with the Chinese Communist Party, the Holy See and all who believe in the divine spark enlightening every human life will heed Jesus’s words in the Gospel of John, ‘The truth will set you free.’”