In 2018 the Pope cut a deal with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) which gave the Chinese government the power to make episcopal appointments. While the Vatican can accept or reject the candidates, history shows that papal accords that compromise its authority end badly and this one is ending very badly.
Hildegard detested Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa (AD 1122-1190) for his determination to make ecclesial appointments. Not uncharacteristically, she responds by assuming her role as a prophet of the Old Testament type, delivering threats in the first-person voice of God:
“He who Is says: By My own power I do away with the obstinacy and rebellion of those who scorn me. Woe, O woe to the evil of those wicked ones who spurn me. Hear this O king, if you wish to live. Otherwise my sword will pierce you”.†
The Pope has cut a deal with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that gives the Vatican a say in the selection of Bishops for the state-sanctioned Catholic Church. The deal is supposed to give the Vatican the ability to approve episcopal appointments made by the Chinese government.
To Joseph Cardinal Zen, Retired Bishop of Hong Kong, the Pope would be making a choice for the government-controlled church over the faithful underground church. His opposition is impassioned, calling it a “surrender”, and a betrayal of Christ. The underground Catholic Church is substantially larger and carefully guards its independence from the government and maintains loyalty to the Holy See, but at the price of persecution.
Neither the state Church or the underground Church have a direct connection to Rome; this is obviously what the Pope wants to fix by the compromise. But first he might want to consider a number of historical precedents that suggest such accords don’t end well and consider a more conservative path: Continue reading “Historical Perspectives on the Pope’s Chinese Accord”→