GROVE CITY, Pa. (ChurchMilitant.com) - An acclaimed papal biographer is urging Pope Francis to stop appeasing China's communist regime after the pontiff pulled the plug on publicly supporting Hong Kong.
"Do not pursue a policy of accommodation that compromises your Catholic principles and that will make you ashamed," political scientist Paul Kengor told the Holy Father after the pontiff expunged his pro-Hong Kong remarks during his July 5 Angelus address.
"Look, this is a tough situation. No one has a good answer, including me. But I would caution Pope Francis and the Vatican to be very careful here," professor Kengor told Church Militant, as Catholic establishment media spun Francis' omission "as a sign of the pope's commitment to dialogue and also a sign of his deft diplomatic and geopolitical instincts."
In a tense few days, following China's imposition of a draconian new national security law on Hong Kong, commentators noted that Pope Francis "who is the first to speak — as usual very loquacious on everyone and everything — has not said one word."
"Silence on everything that could irritate the Beijing authorities is certainly one of the many prices that the Holy See has agreed to pay, to keep from breaking up the fragile accord on the appointment of bishops that it sealed on Sept. 22, 2018 with China," veteran Vaticanista Sandro Magister wrote in the Italian newspaper L'Espresso.
"Seek the truth. Above all, to quote John Paul II, 'Be not afraid,'" Kengor, author of two celebrated biographies of Karol Wojtyła, exhorted Pope Francis.
Kengor explained how "in the early 1970s, the accommodation policy of Paul VI and [cardinal Abp. Agostino] Casaroli ultimately became a policy of appeasement, which is precisely what Cdl. Joseph Zen is warning about with China and Hong Kong right now."
"From the outset, this situation with Pope Francis, the Vatican, and China — and now with Hong Kong — has painfully reminded me of Pope Paul VI, Cdl. Casaroli, and their Vatican strategy of Ostpolitik toward the Soviet Union in the 1970s," lamented the internationally recognized authority on the Cold War and communism.
Kengor, a faithful Catholic and professor of political science at Grove City College, Pennsylvania, continued:
When I read allegations that the Holy Father or Vatican right now might be muting or withdrawing criticisms of communist China or are afraid to speak candidly about human rights abuses in places like Hong Kong, it reminds me precisely of the agonizing episodes when Paul VI, Casaroli and their Vatican accommodated the Kremlin and various Eastern European communist dictators.
"To be sure, Paul VI and Casaroli felt that this accommodationist approach was best for peace. They pursued that approach for entirely benevolent reasons," the New York Times bestselling author conceded.
"Nonetheless, that approach did absolutely nothing to dissuade communists from continuing their iron grip on countless millions of repressed people and underground Christians behind the Iron Curtain," he cautioned.
"Things only changed for the better when Pope John Paul II entered and pursued a very different policy. John Paul II sought not to preserve the status quo but to roll back and defeat communism," Kengor emphasized.
Kengor's A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century and The Divine Plan: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and the Dramatic End of the Cold War have earned him numerous accolades as a scholarly papal biographer.
Meanwhile, political commentator on Chinese affairs Dr. Niall McCrae slammed the pontiff's capitulation to China.
"Pope Francis, influenced by Latin American liberation theology, seems to prefer Marxist collectivism to the free spirit of Hong Kong," McCrae, co-author of Year of the Bat: Globalization, China and the Coronavirus, told Church Militant, lamenting the fate of the Catholic Church under the current oversight of Cdl. John Tong Hon, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, who was appointed apostolic administrator of the former British colony by the Vatican in January 2019.
"Disingenuously, Cdl. Tong denies any threat to religious freedom under Article 32 of the Basic Law," McCrae explained, after Italian Catholic historian Agostino Giovagnoli defended the current Catholic establishment's surrender to the regime.
"Unlike other inhabitants of Hong Kong, shaped by a mainly western formation, he [Tong] knows well the historical and political value but also the cultural and emotional value for the Chinese with a very strong sense of sovereignty," wrote Giovagnoli in the Italian bishops' conference publication L'Avvenire.
But McCrae, an academic at Kings College, London, said: "Tong preaches unity, but his conciliatory path will ultimately force Catholics closer to atheist Beijing than to the holy Vatican — unity with Xi rather than God."
"Agostino Giovagnoli defends the Pope's stance on Hong Kong and China, but this will only add to concerns that Christians in the prized peninsula are being abandoned to a totalitarian regime," McCrae noted.
"Under the 'one country, two systems' agreement, the Hong Kong government has desisted from imposing communist-style restrictions on citizens' liberty. But China has exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to muscle in, leading to thousands of arrests of brave independence protestors," he observed.