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(LifeSiteNews) — Thanks to great reporting by LifeSiteNews, we now know that the Vatican intends to renew its secretive deal with China later this year for the third time.

The news comes directly from the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who back in 2018 drew up the original terms of the controversial agreement and announced that the Vatican would adhere to its still-secret terms.

In 2020 and 2022, the Vatican unilaterally “renewed” the agreement, and is now poised to do so again.

The only problem is that there is no “agreement,” at least not in the commonly understood sense of the term.

READ: EXCLUSIVE: Cardinal Parolin confirms Vatican aims to renew secretive deal with China this year

An agreement implies an arrangement, a promise, or a contract made between two parties, the terms of which both sides agree to abide by. While the Vatican has certainly proposed terms to the lower-ranking officials of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that it has met with over the years, the Chinese side has never signed on.

This was certainly true when I met with Parolin in June 2018. I had sought a meeting hoping to dissuade him from entering into an agreement with the CCP, which would only use it, I told him, against the Church in China.

To his credit he listened politely for an hour, but then concluded the meeting by telling me that the terms of the agreement had already been negotiated. “We are just waiting for the Chinese side to sign,” he said.

Six years later, the Vatican is still hoping against hope that the CCP will one day sign. It hasn’t yet, as Parolin admitted just last year.

On April 4, 2023, the CCP had appointed a new bishop of Shanghai. Not only was the Pope not consulted in the appointment of Bishop Shen Bin, as the Vatican has repeatedly asked for in its negotiations with the CCP, but Shanghai already had a Vatican-appointed bishop, Bishop Thaddeus Ma Deqin, who has been under house arrest for a number of years.

The Vatican responded to this double assault on the Pope’s authority to name bishops by going silent for over three months. On July 15, Pope Francis caved to this fait accompli by the Chinese Communists, installing their puppet as Bishop of Shanghai.

READ: Chinese Communist Party humiliates Pope Francis with Shanghai bishop appointment

Was this not a blatant violation of the terms of the Sino-Vatican Agreement, Parolin was later asked. The secretary of state would not go that far, acknowledging only that CCP “seems to disregard the spirit of dialogue and collaboration established between the Vatican and Chinese sides over the years and which has found a point of reference in the agreement.”

Mention of the “agreement” prompted the obvious follow-up questions: why can’t we see the terms of the agreement? Why the need for continued secrecy?

“The text [of the deal] is confidential because it has not yet been finally approved,” Parolin admitted.

In other words, there is no “agreement.” There is only what the diplomats call a “working document” that lays out the request of the Vatican to be consulted in the appointment of bishops.

Or, in Parolin’s gracious characterization, the deal “revolves around the basic principle of consensuality of decisions affecting bishops,” and requires “trusting in the wisdom and goodwill of all.” The good cardinal is a lifelong diplomat, and it shows.

It is on the hope that such a “consensus” on the appointment of bishops could be reached that the non-existent agreement has been supposedly renewed again and again. Yet what could be more naïve than trusting in the goodwill of a godless one-party dictatorship in the expectation that one day it will share power with the Vatican in the appointment of Chinese bishops?

Does the Vatican not know that – to paraphrase Solzhenitsyn – hatred of God is the principal driving force behind communism, more fundamental than all its political or economic pretensions? Is Pope Francis unaware that CCP leaders have always regarded the Catholic Church with enmity, or that Chairman Mao himself compared Catholic missionaries to Nazis and terrorists?

I was quite astonished to hear the Pope, in a late 2022 interview, defend China against accusations that it is undemocratic. His exact words were, “Qualifying China as undemocratic, I do not identify with that, because it’s such a complex country.” He went on to repeatedly call for “dialogue” with the CCP.

Yet the past six years of dialogue have not seen any notable improvement in the treatment of Catholics in China. The persecution of the underground Church continues. The dozens of vacant sees that the Vatican hoped to fill with jointly approved bishops remain empty. Indeed, the 2021 guidelines governing the practice of religion in China are more onerous than ever, turning churches into virtual extensions of the CCP.

It is passing curious that the Vatican has, for the past six years, propagated the myth that it had an agreement with the CCP. It has even gone through the farce every two years of “extending” the non-existent “Sino-Vatican Agreement.”

Yet the agreement only exists in the minds of the Vatican officials who, following Pope Francis’ direction, sought to negotiate it many years ago – and failed to close to deal. One imagines that they are reluctant to admit failure to the notoriously mercurial Pope, and continue to extend the negotiations in the hope that one day the Chinese side will finally show up, pen in hand, to sign.

When riding a tiger, it’s hard to get off, as the Chinese say.

The sad reality is that it wouldn’t matter if the CCP had signed the “agreement” with the Vatican, because it would have violated it before the ink was dry on the paper.

The Chinese Communist Party’s attitude towards such negotiations was aptly encapsulated by Chairman Mao Zedong a long time ago, in his treatise on guerrilla warfare:

Revolutions rarely compromise… Negotiation, then, is undertaken for the dual purpose of gaining time to buttress a position (military, political, social, economic) and to wear down, frustrate, and harass the opponent. Few, if any, essential concessions are to be expected from the revolutionary side, whose aim is only to create conditions that will preserve the unity of the strategic line and guarantee the development of a ‘victorious situation.’

In other words, the CCP never negotiates in good faith, with the object of reaching a reasonable compromise. Its aim is everywhere and always to defeat its enemies, which in this case is the Catholic Church.

Someone should have told Cardinal Parolin.

Actually, I did.

Steven W. Mosher is the President of the Population Research Institute and the author of ‘The Devil and Communist China,’ now out from Tan Books.

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Steven Mosher is the President of the Population Research Institute and an internationally recognised authority on China and population issues. He was the first American social scientist allowed to do fieldwork in Communist China (1979-80), where he witnessed women being forcibly aborted and sterilized under the new “one-child-policy”.   Mosher’s groundbreaking reports on these barbaric practices led to his termination from Stanford University.  A pro-choice atheist at the time, the soul-searching that followed this experience led him to reconsider his convictions and become a practicing, pro-life Roman Catholic.

Mosher has testified two dozen times before the US Congress as an expert in world population, China and human rights. He is a frequent guest on Fox News, NewsMax and other television shows, well as being a regular guest on talk radio shows across the nation.

He is the author of a dozen books on China, including the best-selling A Mother’s Ordeal: One woman’s Fight Against China’s One-Child-Policy. His latest books are Bully of Asia (2022) about the threat that the Chinese Communist Party poses to the U.S. and the world, and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Pandemics. (2022).

Articles by Steve have also appeared in The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, The New Republic, The Washington Post, National Review, Reason, The Asian Wall Street Journal, Freedom Review, Linacre Quarterly, Catholic World Report, Human Life Review, First Things, and numerous other publications.

Steven Mosher lives in Florida with his wife, Vera, and a constant steam of children and grandchildren.