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George Weigel, biographer of Pope St. John Paul II
Claire Chretien Claire Chretien Follow Claire

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John Paul II’s biographer: Calling China the ‘best’ at Catholic social doctrine is ‘psychotic’

Claire Chretien Claire Chretien Follow Claire

February 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Claiming China is the “best” at implementing Catholic social doctrine “requires something approaching a psychotic detachment from reality” or “willful ignorance” that turns “a blind eye to repression and persecution in order to indulge” socialist “fantasies,” St. John Paul II’s biographer wrote in an article.

JPII’s biographer George Weigel wrote this in response to Archbishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo’s claim that communist China is the best implementer of the Church’s social teaching. This claim is an embarrassment to the Church, Weigel wrote, a gross distortion of Catholic teaching, and a betrayal of the “persecuted Catholics of China.” The article, titled A Vatican-Based Bishop Extols China, was published in National Review February 7. 

Sorondo is “a small-bore bit player in the current drama of what friends and critics alike regard as an increasingly dysfunctional Vatican,” Weigel wrote, adding that Sorondo's comments, which demonstrate the current chaos in the Vatican, need to be corrected.

“Catholic social doctrine is built on four foundational principles: the inviolable dignity and value of every human person, the responsibility of all to exercise their rights in ways that contribute to the common good, the importance of social pluralism and civil society (and thus the rejection of totalitarianism), and the imperative of solidarity (the virtue of civic friendship that binds free societies together),” Weigel explained.

This is difficult to square with China’s laogai camps, “where slave labor is the rule and political prisoners are frequently murdered, so their transplantable organs can be harvested to benefit the more politically reliable members of the population,” Weigel wrote.

Similarly, its “two-child” policy and accompanying forced abortion regime, the lack of the Chinese having the “right of free movement within their own country,” and the state’s official atheism are incompatible with these principles of Catholic social doctrine.

“Religious persecution is a staple of the regime’s repressive apparatus,” he wrote.

Sorondo’s comments “inevitably implicate the pope he serves and cast doubt not only on the prudence of the Vatican’s current attempts at a démarche with [China]...but on the integrity of the Holy See,” Weigel cautioned.

Weigel argued that Sorondo’s “detachment from reality” also “informed” his remarks that China, by committing to the Paris Climate Agreement, is demonstrating “moral leadership.”

“What air, one wonders, did the bishop breathe in China, one of the most heavily polluted countries in the world?” he asked. “And does His Excellency imagine that a totalitarian regime, bent on asserting itself as a global power and unaccountable to its populace, is going to seriously address its problems of massive air, water, and soil pollution because it signed a piece of paper in the City of Light?”

Weigel also recently rebuffed Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin’s claim that the teaching of Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia is a “paradigm shift” in the Church.

“The Catholic Church doesn’t do ‘paradigm shifts,’” he responded.

St. John Paul II is credited with playing a major role in bringing down communism in Eastern Europe.

When he visited his native Poland – still under communist rule – shortly after becoming pope, he “changed the boundaries of the world,” Peggy Noonan wrote in John Paul the Great.

A million Poles gathered to hear the pope speak, chanting “We want God! We want God!”

As Jerzy Turowicz, a friend of St. John Paul’s and later a Polish public servant, put it: “Historians say World War II ended in 1945. Maybe in the rest of the world, but not in Poland. They say communism fell in 1989. Not in Poland. World War II and communism both ended in Poland at the same time: in 1979, when John Paul II came home.”

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