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WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is warning Pope Francis that the Vatican risks endangering its moral authority if it renews its controversial secret deal with China.
"No regime suppresses faith on a larger scale than the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)," Pompeo announced Sunday, after urging the Vatican to "stand with fellow Catholics and the people of Hong Kong" in a tweet Saturday.
The Twitter outburst from Pompeo's government account follows his strongly-worded column published Friday in the journal First Things, arguing that "now more than ever, the Chinese people need the Vatican's moral witness and authority in support of China's religious believers."
"The Holy See has a unique capacity and duty to focus the world's attention on human rights violations, especially those perpetrated by totalitarian regimes like Beijing's," Pompeo asserted, noting that the "same power of moral witness" that inspired the fight against 20th-century communist and authoritarian regimes "should be deployed today with respect to the Chinese Communist Party."
"Two years on, it's clear that the Sino-Vatican agreement has not shielded Catholics from the Party's depredations, to say nothing of the Party's horrific treatment of Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong devotees and other religious believers," Pompeo noted.
The CCP's "decades-long war on faith" against Catholic clergy, laity and Protestant house churches are all "parts of a 'Sinicization' campaign to subordinate God to the Party while promoting [China's president] Xi [Jinping] himself as an ultramontane deity," Pompeo observed.
The secretary lamented that "Communist authorities continue to shutter churches, spy on and harass the faithful and insist that the Party is the ultimate authority in religious affairs."
Vatican diplomats meet this month to renew the 2018 concordat, which, he said:
legitimized priests and bishops whose loyalties remain unclear, confusing Chinese Catholics who had always trusted the Church. Many refuse to worship in state-sanctioned places of worship, for fear that by revealing themselves as faithful Catholics they will suffer the same abuses that they witness other believers suffer at the hands of the Chinese authorities' increasingly aggressive atheism.
The secretary also pointed out that "Hong Kong's most prominent voices for human dignity and human rights have often been Catholics." He named "father of democracy" Martin Lee and media baron Jimmy Lai, who "have been arrested, spied on and harassed for the simple 'crime' of advocating the basic freedoms" promised by Beijing "in exchange for regaining sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997."
Pompeo concluded: "I pray that, in dealing with the Chinese Communist Party, the Holy See and all who believe in the divine spark enlightening every human life will heed Jesus' words in the Gospel of John, 'The truth will set you free.'"
So far, Vatican diplomats have signaled their willingness to renew the treaty.
"To be friends with a country like China, which has so much culture and so many opportunities to do good, it would be a delight," Pope Francis told reporters.
In 2018, after returning from a trip to China, Bp. Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, affirmed: "Right now, those who are best implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese."
Sorondo extolled the communist regime for defending "the dignity of the human person" and "assuming a moral leadership that others have abandoned" in the area of climate change.
"Like communists in the Soviet Union, the Chinese leadership engage in disinformation, misinformation and manipulation — and they likewise view the Vatican and religion as a foe," said political scientist Paul Kengor, author of recently published The Devil and Karl Marx: Communism's Long March of Death, Deception, and Infiltration.
"Do not pursue a policy of accommodation that compromises your Catholic principles and that will make you ashamed," Paul Kengor told the Holy Father in a Church Militant interview after the pontiff expunged his pro-Hong Kong remarks during his July 5 Angelus address.
Even mainstream media supportive of Pope Francis are beginning to challenge what is being interpreted as his capitulation to China.
In July, Britan's The Times blasted Pope Francis as "Beijing's unlikely admirer," lamenting that "the Vatican's rapprochement with China has led it to acquiesce in depravity."
Detailing evidence of "concentration camps and even genocide," in China, columnist Dominic Lawson pointed out that "Pope Francis — who was open in his criticism of Donald Trump's Mexican 'border wall' — has nothing to say about this publicly."
"An earlier pope was, shall we say, disappointed by the outcome of the concordat the Holy See concluded with the Third Reich. To continue to believe the promises of totalitarian regimes is not just foolish: It is an abomination," Lawson wrote.