Third Party & Independents Archives

​Vatican Dust Up! Zen Slams Sorondo's SinoVatican Sycophancy!

There’s some sniping going on within the Catholic Church over its latest attempt at some sort of rapprochement with Communist China. On one side you have Father Bernardo Cervellera - editor in chief of Asia News - and the wonderfully named Cardinal Joseph Zen - the former Bishop of Hong Kong. On the other side you seem to have … the Vatican and the Chinese Communist Party and by extension China’s government.

The dust-up started with Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo - Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences - basically saying that China sure knows how to build a just society. No slums, lots of industry, lots of people working. Entitlements for all. One can imagine the Argentine Bishop Sorondo (though he's spent most of his adult life in Rome apparently) holding aloft an iron rice bowl for the Pope to bless, while the hardline mandarins from China's State Administration for Religious Affairs look on with stern benevolence.

You see there are apparently two Catholic Churches in China: the official communist-endorsed Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA) with bishops appointed by the Communist state; and an underground Chinese Catholic church with direct links to the Vatican and a history of nearly 70 years of persecution, some of it deadly. China has its share of religious martyrs.

But China remains both an enormous sea of souls who have been fed an atheist diet for several generations, and a bitterly remembered lost opportunity due to infighting between Jesuits and Dominicans in the 17th and 18th centuries. As John Allen Jr. - editor of Crux - explains:

Many experts regard China as the last truly competitive spiritual marketplace. No matter what happens Christianity in some form almost certainly will remain the majority faith in Europe and North America. Hinduism will be the majority in India, Islam the majority in the Middle East, and Africa will de divided between Islam and Christianity, with significant pockets of religious indigenous practice.

In China however, things seem more up for grabs.

One can disagree with parts of that sweeping assessment of religion around the globe, but it is clear that China is viewed as lustily by Vatican wonks like Sorondo as any average business leader looking to leverage that enormous market.

Are they therefore betraying China's true Catholic community who have maintained the faith in the face of sometimes horrifying persecution? It sure seems like it. Here's Father Cervellera in his editorial titled Sanchez Sorondo in Wonderland:

... adulating China is an ideological affirmation that makes a laughingstock of the Church.

When the Vatican's chief diplomat, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said he understood the "pain" that Chinese Catholics feel, the feisty octogenarian former Hong Kong bishop Joseph Zen retorted:

Oh! This man who lacks faith, how would he understand what is real pain?

Remember, the Vatican wielded secular power until the 19th century when church and state were finally split apart with the latter left to secular governments. This is a jibe by Zen against the ghosts of Vatican pasts where a pope's pointed finger or whispered orders could bring down kings and nobles. Or cozy up to Chinese officials. Joseph Zen doesn't need a history of the Church to understand that. He's lived it in the flesh, if from the relative safety of Hong Kong.

So what will Sorondo' boss do? Here's John Allen Jr. once more, writing in Crux:

The Vatican appears to believe the prudent course is to carve out a stable legal framework, before encouraging dramatic expansion in missionary efforts - but it also has to understand that, to some extent, the clock is ticking before it's too late.

No kidding John. Evangelicals have been hard at work in China without the overhead of an enormous bureaucracy burdening their work of faith and gospel. Your move, Holy Father.

Posted by AllardK at February 9, 2018 7:00 PM
Comments
Comment #424199

Can you repeat that, Please?

Posted by: Weary Willie at February 9, 2018 9:28 PM
Comment #425156

Thank you for sharing the post. I didn’t know about it.

Posted by: net worth at March 7, 2018 5:56 AM
Post a comment