The Vatican’s Unholy China Deal
Seventy-five years after the Holocaust, the Vatican is again turning a blind eye to an authoritarian regime’s attempt to exterminate an ethnic minority. That is the assessment of human rights activist Benedict Rogers. In a July 29, 2020, Foreign Policy article, Rogers recounted how the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews wrote a letter to the Chinese ambassador in London, comparing the plight of the Uyghurs in Communist China to that of Jews in Nazi Germany. Children have been taken from their parents and sent to state-run orphanages. Women have been sterilized. Drone footage shows Uyghur men, kneeling and blindfolded, waiting to be loaded onto trains.
Twenty-three nations have condemned China’s human rights abuses. But the Vatican has remained surprisingly silent, considering that Pope Francis is hailed as an advocate for the oppressed.
The pope has condemned the United States government for temporarily separating the children of illegal immigrants from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. He has spoken out against the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a U.S. police officer, saying, “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form.” But with Communist China, he has turned a blind eye to racism, exclusion and worse. He has uttered no public prayer for the Uyghurs, the Hong Kongers, the Tibetans, the Falun Gong practitioners, or any other group persecuted by China’s ruling party. And it took months of public shaming before he included the Uyghurs as a “persecuted” people in his book Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future.
Why the silence? Rogers says Pope Francis may be restrained from criticizing China under the terms of a secret concordat between the Vatican and the Chinese Communist Party.
Two years ago, the Vatican asked Bishop Peter Zhuang Jianjian and Bishop Joseph Guo Xijin to step down and make way for two new bishops approved by the Chinese government. This was a prelude to a deal between the Catholic Church and the Chinese government. This deal’s text remains secret, but we know it gives an atheist regime a role in appointing bishops, and it may discourage the pope from speaking about the Communists’ human rights abuses.
Before this deal, about half of China’s 10 to 12 million Catholics worshiped in underground churches that refuse to recognize Communist control over their faith. The other half worshiped in the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, a church run by clergy appointed and controlled by the Communist Party.
The deal was supposed to be a strategic compromise in the name of Catholic unity, but no member of the Catholic clergy has been released from prison, and several more have disappeared since the deal was signed.
The last British governor of Hong Kong is warning that the Vatican is making a mistake by cozying up to China just as it is slipping back into the hardest-line dictatorship since Mao Zedong. Retired Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen has said the deal is analogous to signing a contract with Adolf Hitler—something the Vatican actually did on July 20, 1933.
Yet in October 2020, the Vatican renewed this deal for another two years.
In summary: Pope Francis turns a blind eye to China’s egregious human rights abuses while praising Catholics who kneel at Black Lives Matter protests in the United States. This shows that human rights are not his primary concern. Like the popes before him, he is pursuing a geopolitical agenda. He wants full diplomatic relations with Communist China so he can bring America’s enemies—foreign and domestic—into an economic alliance against the United States!