Vernuccio’s View: Pope Francis’ Mistake On China

Frank V. Vernuccio, Jr., J.D.

Frank V. Vernuccio, Jr., J.D.

By Frank V. Vernuccio, Jr., Esq.

Pope Francis is considering making an erroneous decision that may have grave consequences for religious freedom, not just for Catholics, but for all people who are suffering at the hands of repressive governments.

In the closing days of the Second World War, Josef Stalin was warned by Winston Churchill to be mindful of the views of the Pope.  The Soviet dictator famously replied, “How many divisions does the Roman Pope have?” Even aside from the fact that the Vatican city-state still exists while the Soviet Union does not, the influence of the head of the Catholic Church cannot be ignored. For that reason, policy errors by the Pontiff should receive substantive analysis.

According to CathNewsUSA,  “Negotiators for the Vatican and Beijing reached a compromise on who selects Catholic bishops in China, said people familiar with the matter, potentially marking a major step toward ending six decades of estrangement. If Pope Francis and Chinese leaders sign off on the proposed deal, the pope would accept eight bishops ordained by the Chinese government without the Vatican’s permission.”

The move would be an even more significant change to Catholicism’s power structure than that which occurred in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. For the first time in the two thousand year-old history of the Church, the Vatican would cede the power to appoint clergy leaders to an atheist entity. It would also be a betrayal to martyrs who gave all for the integrity of Christianity.

The move has been severely criticized by some Church leaders,  particularly in Asia. The Catholic Herald reports that “Cardinal Joseph Zen, the most senior Chinese Catholic, has said a possible deal between China and the Vatican would ‘betray Jesus Christ’.”

In an interview with The Guardian, Cardinal Zen stated “Maybe the Pope is a little naive, he doesn’t have the background to know the Communists in China…The pope used to know the persecuted Communists [in Latin America], but he may not know the Communist persecutors who have killed hundreds of thousands. Chinese Catholics are free to go to mass and attend government-sanctioned churches, but barred from proselytizing. The state-controlled China Catholic Patriotic Association controls the church and appoints bishops, currently without any input from the Vatican.An “underground” Catholic church exists, with some estimates saying it is larger than the official one, and its members and clergy have faced persecution by authorities. Protestant Christians also face similar challenges…”

As the planet’s most influential religious leader, a surrender by Pope Francis on the issue of the independence of faith groups to appoint their own governing clergy would impact every denomination in every nation.

Many of Pope Francis’ statements have raised serious questions about whether his worldview is sufficiently informed. A U.S. News analysis noted that the Pontiff has not watched television since 1990.

Commentator Wayne Allyn Root  has written that “This pope neither seems to understand, nor care that his views on issues…often put him in bed with atheists and socialists, who don’t believe in God, mock religion and think the Bible is a work of fiction. He crusades for social justice, yet chose to embrace the Castro brothers – evil murderers who have imprisoned, tortured and murdered generations of Cubans for expressing their opinions and questioning the authority of a tyrant…He chose not to visit or even be seen with Cubans imprisoned because of their political views.”

Pope Francis’ lack of a more thorough and well-rounded understanding of the world is leading to exactly the opposite of the goals he, with all good intentions, advocates.

Frank Vernuccio, Esq. serves as editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy & Government.

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