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Chen Guangcheng in Paris, August 31, 2015.LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images

November 27, 2018, (LifeSiteNews) – In a recently published rebuke to the Vatican for its recent agreement with China’s Communist Party, heroic world-famous blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng explained why the Holy See should not cede the selection of bishops in China to the Communist Party (CCP).

Chen, in his article titled “A Pact with a Thief, a Deal with the Devil: The Vatican’s Pending Agreement with China,” said he was shocked and dismayed in seeing the Vatican/China agreement take shape. 

“I have known and worked with countless individuals in China who have been persecuted for their beliefs,” wrote Chen at Public Discourse.  “It has thus been with intense shock and dismay that I have watched the Vatican’s rapprochement with China take shape.”

Chinese Cardinal Joseph Zen said in a recent interview that the agreement “indirectly” amounts to the Vatican “helping the government to annihilate the underground Church that Beijing was not able to crush.”

If anybody has a right to speak out on the current Vatican/China controversy, it’s Chen.

Blind from a young age, Chen Guangcheng gained international prominence more than a decade ago for bravely suing the government over its brutal “one-child policy,” which has resulted in forced abortions, estimated to be in the hundreds of millions.  Chen was imprisoned by China’s communist government for his activism. In 2012 he escaped house arrest and fled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. He and his family were later allowed to leave for the United States where he is now a distinguished visiting fellow at the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America and a senior fellow at the Witherspoon Institute. 

“I was born and raised in China under the communist despotism. I personally experienced the brutal torture and persecution that the atheists of the Communist Party committed against dissidents,” explained Chen earlier this year.  “They have no fear of God or any moral bottom line; they have committed innumerable murders with a total disregard for human life for the sole purpose of maintaining their reign.”

'Slap in the face'

Chen suggests that the Vatican has entered into an uneven deal with the CCP, giving up too much authority––most notably regarding the selection of bishops––in order to re-establish diplomatic relations with the communist state.  

“The fact that the Vatican sees these terms as an acceptable basis for reconciliation with a brutal dictatorial regime is a slap in the face to millions of Catholics and other faithful religious people in China who have suffered real persecution under the CCP,” wrote Chen.  “In fact, it is an affront to reasonable and freedom-loving people everywhere. As a self-described atheist regime, the CCP simply cannot claim authority over religious affairs, such as the choice of bishops. And its offering recognition of the pope is as paltry a concession as admitting the sky is blue.”

The problem is that the goals of religion––any religion––are at odds with those of the CCP.  “Religion asks for trust in a higher power—higher still than the Communist Party can claim—and faith in ideas that are beyond the reach of the regime’s clutches.”

“Over the past decade, the CCP has been aggressively attacking underground Catholic and Protestant house churches, first going after banned religious symbols and dismantling crosses,” recounted Chen.  “The CCP has been arresting priests, threatening congregants, and searching churches and places of worship. Many have disappeared and been tortured while under the regime’s control, refusing to relinquish their beliefs to a degraded, intolerant political party, and proving the power of their faith.”

Under increasing CCP influence in Christian churches, including the state-approved Catholic Church, “Congregants are required to sing communist songs and raise the national flag.”  

“The CCP is even preparing its own edition of the Bible, titled ‘The Chinese Christian Bible,’” added the outspoken activist, explaining that the CCP seeks to “force its socialist, secular values into the text while presenting a fiction of religious tolerance to the outside.” 

'Another shameful episode whose stain the Catholic Church will be unable to cleanse'

Chen continued: 

Clearly, the agreement is a blatantly political move designed only to serve the CCP’s interests. Not only does the action of the CCP selecting Catholic bishops represent a major decline for the Vatican, but it is the equivalent of bowing before evil, of selling God to the devil. Does the Vatican not know that the Communist Party controls everything in China? The Vatican ended relations with China in 1951 after the Communist Party had taken over power because the Party wanted to lead everything, including the spiritual realm. Now, after sixty-seven years, the Vatican is throwing away its values and accepting the leadership of the CCP. This will become yet another shameful episode whose stain the Catholic Church will be unable to cleanse.

I am sure that the active members of underground churches in China who have persevered against crippling persecution for so long can only feel betrayed. They must certainly feel that the Vatican is growing further from God and closer to the superficial human world of vice—closer to a Communist Party that is responsible for the deaths of over four hundred million unborn children and hundreds of millions of Chinese people. Can this actually represent the will of the heavens?

Chen’s concluding words were, “[T]he Vatican’s deal with China can only bring shame on its name.”  

Chen’s indictment of the Vatican/China deal demands serious consideration by the Holy See.  

“Every single line in this @PublicDiscourse article by the courageous Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng needs to be read by anyone in the Holy See involved in the Vatican’s agreement with China,” tweeted the Acton Institute’s Samuel Gregg.  “Every. Darn. Single. Line.”

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