(LifeSiteNews) — A Catholic human rights activist from China has said the secretive Vatican-China agreement, as well as Pope Francis’ silence and snubbing of Cardinal Joseph Zen, are nothing short of “betrayal” of the underground Church there.
On today’s episode of The John-Henry Westen Show, I interviewed JP Freedom, who hails from China but currently lives in the United States, where he can speak out about atrocities committed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) against Catholics and other religious and ethnic groups.
Freedom, an alias used to protect his real identity, recently wrote in an article for National Catholic Register that his main mission is promoting “dialogue and solidarity between Catholics, Protestants and nonbelievers in China to defend life and human dignity.”
He told me that shortly before Cardinal Zen’s arrest last May, he passed a message from Cardinal Zen to persecuted Protestant pastor Wang Yi, which Freedom called an act of “unprecedented solidarity” between Chinese Catholics and Protestants. But then when the Vatican goes out and renews its deal with China in October, which allows the Communist Party apparatus to appoint bishops, Freedom said it “destroys the moral authority of our Catholic Church.”
“But this deal [is] laughable. It just destroys the image, destroys the moral authority of our Catholic Church before the Chinese Protestants, before the Chinese dissidents,” he said. “And now [the] image is hypocrisy, is betrayal for all our sacrifice since the CCP took over. Betrayal of the underground loyalty, the decades of persecution, disappearances, torture, imprisonment.”
READ: The slow strangulation and decapitation of the Church in China continues
LifeSiteNews reported last November, shortly after the Vatican renewed its deal with Communist China, about a member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) who expressed his “tremendous disappointment” with the development.
An April 2022 report by the USCIRF found that religious freedom has continued to worsen under general secretary Xi Jinping, with the persecution of Catholics, Protestants, Uyghur Muslims, and Tibetan Buddhists growing even stronger since 2021.
“Despite the Vatican-China agreement on bishops appointments, authorities continue to harass and detain underground Catholic priests who refuse to join the state-controlled Catholic association, such as Bishop Joseph Zhang Weizhu of Xixiang, Hebei Province,” the report reads.
READ: Vatican-China deal has not helped persecuted Catholics: US religious freedom commission member
Pope Francis has long come under the microscope for the Vatican’s accommodations toward Communist China. In 2018, the pontiff lifted the excommunication on seven so-called “bishops” of the state-run Catholic Patriotic Association, which, Freedom said, forced licit bishops to resign.
“Pope Francis brought them back to legitimacy, and even put them to dioceses as the bishop,” he said. “And what the Vatican did [that is] very bad, very sad, is they [brought] the underground bishop of that diocese to Beijing … Both Beijing and the Vatican urged the underground bishop [to] resign … We just lifted up [the illicit bishop’s] excommunication, so he’s now legitimate. Give your seat, give your chair, to that guy. And you resign.”
“Imagine [those] tears of innocence … You feel that, the tears of betrayal.”
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