Vatican sources said they are moving forward with the renewal of the controversial agreement signed with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2018, which gives the CCP authority to appoint bishops. Human rights advocates and U.S. officials in the Trump administration sounded the alarm and began voicing criticism.
According to sources reported by Fox News, the Vatican is in the process of renewing an agreement with the CCP, which would mean deepening the danger for the millions of Christians who practice their faith in China due to the intense persecution that those religious who do not follow the deformed Christianity proposed by the CCP receive.
The Catholic Church in China has long been divided between the “underground” Church, in full communion with Rome, and the state-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA), loyal to the CCP, but not to the Vatican.
The CCP, in 2018, reached an agreement with the Vatican on the appointment of Catholic bishops in the country. Through this agreement, a bishop’s appointment would no longer fall to the pope but would be a shared and negotiated task between the Vatican and the CCP authorities.
The CCP, said Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, in his article for the National Catholic Registry, intended the agreement to serve as a tool to force the bishops and clergy of the underground church to join the Patriotic Association.
As Breitbart News reported last November, a growing number of China’s Catholic faithful have criticized the Vatican’s agreement, insisting that it has emboldened CCP officials in their persecution of Christians.
According to Mosher, the Vatican and the CCP had different goals when they signed the controversial 2018 agreement. The CCP walked away, having achieved everything it set out to get, but the Vatican got nothing to resolve its objectives.
“The first agreement, signed in 2018, was intended to be experimental, but its results have been grim. In the past two years alone, the Chinese government (CCP) has raided church services, imprisoned noncompliant priests and removed crosses from churches,” said David Curry, CEO of international religious persecution watchdog, Open Doors USA, to Fox News.
“(The deal) gives the Vatican and the CCP shared authority over the appointment of bishops in the country.”
Under Mao Zedong in the early 1950s, the CCP broke off diplomatic relations with the Vatican, then razed churches to the ground and deported all international missionaries from China before establishing its own Catholic Association.
Under this new independent association invented by the CCP, it retained the right to ordain bishops without seeking Vatican approval.
Meanwhile, the “underground” Church continued to develop. Reports say the movement now reaches at least 6 million followers. The “clandestine” must practice their faith under absolute anonymity, in places hidden from the authorities, always fearing being discovered and condemned to prison.
At the same time, the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) functions as a reformulated Christianity under the rules of the CCP. In a recent case, according to the National Review, a government-issued high school textbook changed a famous Bible story by modifying one of Jesus’s teachings, claiming that Jesus stoned a sinner to death. The CCP text quoted Jesus saying, “I too am a sinner. But if the law could only be executed by men without blemish, the law would be dead.”
“It is safe to say, nearly two years after the signing of the agreement, that while the Chinese Communist Party has achieved its goals, the Vatican clearly hasn’t,” Mosher said.
With only five “underground” bishops finally accepted to date, it’s apparent the agreement was used to persecute both the underground Church and the CCPA.
Pope Francis’s initiative to update the agreement with the CCP to deepen its ties comes when the Trump administration is openly rejecting the abuses of the CCP in a world scenario with an open and declared trade war.
Two weeks ago, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Rome and intended to visit with the pope. His request was rejected by the Vatican, arguing that “political” dialogue so close to a presidential election was not appropriate.
The Christian community is not the only religious minority that suffers abuse.
Thousands of Uighur Muslims are today forced into concentration camps and subjected to forced labor, abortions, and forced sterilizations.
The spiritual practice of Falun Gong, which is centered on the moral values of truthfulness, benevolence, and tolerance, has endured brutal persecution, arbitrary detention, torture, and the forced removal of organs since 1999.