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How Vatican’s deal with Communist China fits into Pope Francis’ larger agenda

Peter Kwasniewski Peter Kwasniewski Follow Dr. Peter

September 21, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – As the world’s greatest expert in Chinese population policy, Steven W. Mosher is intimately familiar with the political ins-and-outs of the Communist regime. In particular, with his knowledge of Chinese and his frequent travels to the country, he has devoted years of careful observation and study to the question of how the Communists treat religious groups, and, in particular, Catholics.

I heard Mr. Mosher speak in Virginia this summer on Chinese topics and was impressed by his detailed knowledge and the sobriety of his judgments. Like faithful underground Catholic laity, clergy, and bishops in China, Mosher is utterly opposed to the Vatican-Beijing deal, a "provisional agreement" of which was signed over the weekend. Doing us a great service, Mosher summarized the grave situation in an article at OnePeterFive.

The Vatican-Beijing concordat will secure for the Catholic Church an evanescent prestige at the supposed normalization of diplomatic relations and an apparent victory in the regularization of the Church’s hierarchy and sacramental provision on the mainland. It will secure for the Communist government a freedom in naming bishops that would have been the envy of centuries of lay rulers in the European Middle Ages who attempted to arrogate for themselves authority over investitures. Anyone who has studied how communist governments work (as Mosher has done) knows that they have no qualms about breaking their word before the ink is dry on the paper. Why should the conscience of a dialectical materialist atheist bother him? He does not believe in the divine law or in the natural moral law. 

Such an "agreement" means that for the first time in the Church’s existence, the Communist Party that rules a country will choose the bishops with Vatican approval. This means that the “Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association” will thereby be regularized, even though it supports Communist coercive population regulations and its first and primary loyalty is to the Chinese Communist Party.

Therefore, Beijing will continue to persecute true orthodox Catholics with impunity, but now, thanks to the Vatican’s kowtowing to secular power, these Catholics will be made to look disloyal and recalcitrant—come to think of it, just like conservative and traditional Catholics have been made to look in the “free” Western world, when they refuse to fall into lockstep conformity with the juggernaut of secularism cosponsored by the United Nations, the European Union, and the Vatican. In this perspective, the Beijing deal is just one side of a coin whose flip side is the pervasive modernization of morals, ranging from the repudiation of intrinsically evil sexual acts to the redefinition of capital punishment as an intrinsically evil act and the exaltation of environmentalism as the central arena of virtue.

Thus we have yet another key to interpreting this papacy’s larger agenda. The soft approval of Communism implied in this sell-out of the underground Catholic Church, which has been fighting at the cost of great suffering for decades to remain faithful to the fullness of Catholicism (including in some places the retention of the traditional Latin Mass!), harmonizes with many other pro-Marxist and pro-socialist statements and actions of Francis’s pontificate; and this, in turn, complements the policy of Freemasonic laïcité or secularism (a secular state “is better than a confessional state, because confessional states always end badly,” as Francis said), Pistoian liturgical modernization (in his words: “we can affirm with certainty and with magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible”), and the modernist rejection of dogmatic stability and moral absolutes (seen in a range of statements on “development of doctrine” and on sexual morality). 

This China deal fits in perfectly with the attempted deconstruction of Catholic identity, the postmodern exaltation of fluid norms, and the assault on Catholic fidelity that has marked this pontificate from day one. Indeed, it simply revives and grossly amplifies the tragic Ostpolitik of Pope Francis’s predecessor Pope Paul VI, who betrayed and humiliated József Cardinal Mindszenty in pursuit of further alliances with the Communists. It is hardly surprising that Pope Francis will attempt to canonize Paul VI next month, in an exercise of self-admiration like those with which he has been regaling us in his recent homilies in which he compares himself to the silent Christ and his accusers to Satan.

As Gerhard Cardinal Müller preached at a priestly ordination in Rome on Saturday, September 15, 2018: 

The Church, founded by God and made up of human beings, is, according to its human side, in a deep, man-made crisis of its credibility. ... Not clericalism, whatever that may be, but the turning away from the truth and moral lawlessness are the roots of the evil. ... The real danger to today’s humanity is the greenhouse gases of sin and the global warming of unbelief and the decay of morality when no one knows and teaches the difference between good and evil.

One last thought: Why will the Communist-sponsored “Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association” (CCPA) be able to be in “full communion” and its clergy “regularized,” while the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X (SSPX) isn’t? To me, the answer is plain as day: because the CCPA is enthusiastic about the secular state, Vatican II and the Novus Ordo (which it introduced into China!), and adapting morality to situations (“situational ethics”), while the SSPX stands for integralism, perennial doctrine, the traditional Roman Rite, and exceptionless moral norms. In other words, in a total inversion of Catholicism, we are seeing the complete opposite of what should be the case. May the Lord in His mercy rescue us from those who claim to be acting in His name.

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Peter Kwasniewski

Peter Kwasniewski holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Thomas Aquinas College and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America. After teaching at the International Theological Institute in Austria and for the Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Austrian Program, he joined the founding team of Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyoming, where he taught theology, philosophy, music, and art history, and directed the choir and schola. He is now a full-time author, speaker, editor, publisher, and composer.

Dr. Kwasniewski has published seven books, including Sacred Choral Works (Corpus Christi Watershed, 2014); Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis (Angelico, 2014); Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness (Angelico, 2017); A Reader in Catholic Social Teaching (Cluny, 2017); and Tradition and Sanity (Angelico, 2018). Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis has been published in Czech, Polish, German, and Portuguese, and will soon appear in Spanish and Belarusian.

Kwasniewski is a scholar of The Aquinas Institute in Green Bay, which is publishing the Opera Omnia of the Angelic Doctor, a Fellow of the Albertus Magnus Center for Scholastic Studies, and a Senior Fellow of the St. Paul Center. He has published over 750 articles on Thomistic thought, sacramental and liturgical theology, the history and aesthetics of music, and the social doctrine of the Church. 

For news, information, article links, sacred music, and the home of Os Justi Press, please visit his personal website, www.peterkwasniewski.com.