The Holy See admits that “extremely painful situations” are not solved, but claims it is too early to assess the effects of the deal.
With a short press release, the Vatican informed that the secret agreement with China was renewed the same day it expired, October 22, 2020, for an additional period of two years.
A comment appeared in the Vatican daily “L’Osservatore Romano,” claiming it is too early to assess the long-term effects of the deal, and that the COVID-19 crisis paralyzed several local and national situations.
The article mentioned the opposition by “some sector of international politics,” alluding to the United States, and answered that the agreement is religious rather than political.
The Holy See, it said, regards the fact that today in China there are no longer “schismatic” bishops, as all the bishops of the Catholic Patriotic Association are in communion with the Pope, as a religiously significant result.
The text also acknowledges that “extremely painful situations” remain among Chinese Catholics, that the Chinese government should “guarantee a better exercise of religious liberty,” and that the path that may lead to real progress risks to be “long and difficult.”
It is an allusion to the conscientious objectors who refuse to join the “Catholic Patriotic Association.” While not encouraging them, the Vatican stated in 2019 that they should be “respected.” Instead, they are harassed and jailed.
The text of the agreement remains secret.
The former bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen, has labeled the Vatican’s extended deal with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) a “complete defeat” for faithful Catholics.
“With the protection of this agreement, the government forced the people from the underground to join the Patriotic Association… which is objectively schismatic,” Cardinal Joseph Zen told AFP this week, adding that the underground community has “practically disappeared” as a result. “That’s not victory, that’s a defeat — complete defeat,” Cardinal Zen said.
On Thursday, the Holy See Press Office announced the renewal of the 2018 Sino-Vatican agreement on the appointment of bishops for another two years, citing its “great ecclesial and pastoral value.”
Earlier this year, Cardinal Zen declared that while the Vatican seeks compromise with the CCP, they want “complete surrender.” In his ongoing criticism of the Vatican’s rapprochement with the CCP, Zen has insisted that Pope Francis is “naïve” in dealing with a country about which he knows little.
“The pope doesn’t know much about China. And he may have some sympathy for the Communists, because in South America, the Communists are good guys, they suffer for social justice,” Zen told the Catholic News Agency (CNA). “But not the Chinese Communists. They are persecutors.”
“So the situation is, humanly speaking, hopeless for the Catholic Church: Because we can always expect the Communists to persecute the Church, but now [faithful Catholics] don’t get any help from the Vatican,” he said.
“The Vatican is helping the government, surrendering, giving everything into their hands,” Zen said. Last December, Zen said that the pope’s policies in dealing with the CCP are “killing” the underground Church in that country.
“Unfortunately, my experience of my contact with the Vatican is simply disastrous,” the cardinal said, noting his particular distress over the Vatican’s deal with Beijing.
“A secret agreement, being so secret you can’t say anything,” Zen said of the deal. “We don’t know what is in it. Then the legitimization of the seven excommunicated bishops. That’s incredible, simply incredible.”
“But even more incredible is the last act: the killing of the underground,” he said.
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