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In a phone interview with Cdl. Joseph Zen, I had the honor to talk to him along with the radio personality and historian Dr. Edmund Mazza of the Virgin Most Powerful radio, of California. His Eminence gave free vent to his ongoing criticism of the Holy See's policy with communist China.
Zen, the emeritus bishop of Hong Kong, has been a zealous critic of the Vatican's 2018 provisional agreement with the Chinese Communist Party, or the politically-correct "People's Republic of China." He said in the interview that the agreement, which to this day has not been publicly released, gives to the Chinese Communist Party the power to appoint bishops and puts at risk of greater persecution many of the underground Catholics in China.
He disputed that Benedict XVI had approved the agreement, and asked it to be shown to him, instead of keeping it under wraps. He criticized that agreement, calling it "immoral" and "against the Catholic conscience." That document, Zen said, is "blatantly evil, immoral, because it legitimizes a schismatic Church!"
He affirmed that "more and more, the Church is under persecution [in China]. The underground Church is doomed to disappear. Why? Because even the Holy See is not helping. The older bishops are dying. There are less than 30 bishops left in the underground Church and no new priests being ordained."
Cardinal Zen maintained that the Catholic people of China will keep their fidelity to Rome, even though Rome had abandoned them and sold them out to their persecutors. "Back to the catacombs!" he cried.
People under 18 years of age are not allowed into churches, not in any religious activity and that observing Christmas is forbidden in the whole country. Even the Bible should be re-translated, according to the communist "orthodoxy." So now we see more and more control over the Church, and there is really a universal lamentation in the whole Church. I can do nothing. I have no voice in the Vatican, simply none.
The situation is, humanly speaking, hopeless for the Church. Communists can always be expected to persecute the Church, but now faithful Catholics don't get any help from the Vatican. The Vatican is helping the government, surrendering, giving everything into their hands. The reported $2 billion a year the Vatican is receiving from the communist regime seems to be the price of their silence. Some suggest it is equivalent to the proverbial 30 pieces of silver.
So [in this deal] the Vatican lost everything and got nothing. I cannot understand why they would do such a thing. I always say, can you imagine St. Joseph going to bargain with Herod to save the infant Jesus? No way, no way. Herod just wants to kill Him. It's a sell-out! A sell-out!
But this sad betrayal is not the first time that the Vatican diplomacy sells out the Church to the communists.
In 1974, to oppose the policy of détente of Pope Paul VI with the communist countries of the Soviet Union, a manifesto expressing the Catholic laity's right to resist against that betrayal was sent to Rome by Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, president of the Society for the Defense of Tradition Family and Property, in Brazil.
The manifesto was reproduced in various languages and countries. In it, Professor de Oliveira proclaimed the right of the laity to resist the wrong policies of the Vatican, which brought about the abandonment of the people under Soviet oppression.
Politics, and especially bad diplomacy, are demonstrably not covered by papal infallibility. Just as today Pope Francis does not answer Cdl. Zen, Pope Paul VI's ears were deaf to the cry of millions of the laity. The shameful policy of détente went into history as a great betrayal of the Catholic peoples in the Soviet Union, just as today Chinese Catholics are being betrayed by the Vatican during the Francis pontificate.
But the big question of conscience is, if you oppose the Vatican policy of friendship with communism, aren't you going against the pope's authority? Many ask themselves this crucial question. But the answer is, not in the least. We would feel more enchained inside the Church than Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was in Soviet Russia if we could not act according to the documents of the great pontiffs who illuminated Christendom with their doctrine. The Church is not, the Church never was, the Church never will be such a prison for consciences.
Saint Peter teaches us that it is necessary "to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). The pope is assisted by the Holy Spirit and supported — under the conditions defined by Vatican I — by the privilege of infallibility. But in several fields, the pope is as fallible as any man. One such field is diplomacy.
There are many Church Fathers, Doctors, moralists and canonists — many of them raised to the honor of the altar — who have affirmed the legitimacy of resistance.
"Resistance" is the word that was employed by St. Paul toward St. Peter. The first pope had become "politically correct" in Antioch by taking attitudes to please the Judaizers of Jerusalem. Saint Paul saw in it a grave risk of doctrinal confusion and harm for the faithful. He then publicly stood up against St. Peter and "resisted him to the face" (Galatians 2:11).
Saint Peter did not see in it an act of rebellion, but rather one of union and fraternal love. Knowing well in what he was infallible and in what he was not, St. Peter submitted to the arguments of St. Paul. As the Scriptures say, "Rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Teach a just man, and he shall make haste to receive it. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs, 9:8–10).
The saints are models for Catholics. Accordingly, in the sense in which St. Paul resisted, the state of all faithful Catholics against the Vatican policy is one of resistance. And therefore, our conscience is in peace.
To resist means we will:
Readers may download below the full text of the historical manifesto on the resistance to the policy of détente of the Vatican with communism. It will shed much light on the current situation of the Vatican betrayal of the people in China. It is available in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and German.