I like Pope Francis.
I like his pastoral approach — even when he sometimes falls short with an intemperate remark. I love his vision of the Church as a field hospital, offering the healing love and mercy of Christ to all who seek it.
I am grateful — even when I differ with his prudential judgments about how best to get there — for his emphases on uplifting the poor, promoting world peace and providing stewardship for God’s earth.
And I revere him as the vicar of Christ.
So it saddens me to write this.
But I am deeply troubled by the Holy Father’s continued silence on the brutal, systemic and ever-widening human oppression that is the very essence of the Chinese Communist regime.
Add to that China’s menacing of Taiwan, its pursuit of world domination through military escalation, efforts to control technology, manipulation of the global economy and its coverup and dishonesty after unleashing the devastating, worldwide COVID pandemic — and it becomes apparent that the greatest existential threat to humanity is this brutal, aggressive, totalitarian gulag of a nation.
Yet Rome is silent.
As 1.8 million Uyghur Muslims are imprisoned in camps, forced into slave labor, subjected to beatings, starvation, gang rapes, torture, political indoctrination and forced sterilizations, Vatican protest is barely audible.
This “genocidal” oppression, as The Washington Post called it, has been condemned as a “crime against humanity” by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and as “one of the most egregious human tragedies since the Holocaust” by some 76 faith leaders from around the world.
But not by the leader of the world’s more than one billion Catholics.
China continues its grisly practice of live, forced organ harvesting and trafficking, “parsing out hearts, livers, lungs and kidneys for resale like so many used car parts,” according to China expert Steven Mosher, who also first exposed the regime’s forced abortion brutality.
In 2018, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, head of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, credited the Chinese government with achieving “reform” of “the organ donation system.” But in 2019, a yearlong investigation by an independent, London-based people’s tribunal found “no evidence” that the inhuman harvesting of organs from political prisoners, Falun Gong practitioners and Uygur Muslims, had stopped.
Incredibly — given all of China’s barbaric human rights abuses — Bishop Sorondo proclaimed that “Right now, those who are best implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese.” (My emphasis)
China has crushed Hong Kong pro-democracy protests and imposed a “national security law” to suppress dissent through draconian prison sentences, with no strong condemnation from the Vatican — including, as the Wall Street Journal’s William McGurn reported, when Jimmy Lai, “not only Hong Kong’s most well-known champion of democracy,” but “also its most prominent Catholic layman,” was jailed last December.
“At a moment when he and his family most need their shepherd,” McGurn lamented, “Pope Francis is MIA.”
Why? Surely, despite the Vatican’s controversial and largely secret agreement with the Communist government, Church leaders would not remain silent to protect the Church while others suffered persecution.
And even if they did, it is not working. Human rights advocate Dr. Ewelina Ochab, writing in Forbes last month, quotes from the 2021 report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom:
“Despite the Vatican-China agreement on Bishop appointments, Chinese authorities continued to harass, detain and torture underground Catholic bishops — such as Cui Tai and Huang Jintong — who refuse to join the state-backed Catholic association.”
“The government also continued to demolish both Catholic and Protestant church buildings and crosses under its ‘sinicization of religion’ campaign.”
“Two years on,” then-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented last September, “it’s clear that the Sino-Vatican agreement has not shielded Catholics from the party’s depredations.”
And it will only get worse, predicts Ochab.
“Considering the current trends of persecution,” she wrote, “it is expected that China will soon be … competing with North Korea as the worst place to live as a Christian. The same applies to other religious groups. Further restrictions of the right to freedom of religion or belief, in all shapes and forms, are expected.”
“The Chinese people,” Pompeo implored, “need the Vatican’s moral witness and authority in support of China’s religious believers.”
As McGurn wrote, Francis’ silence would be more understandable if he were in the tradition of some past popes who were reluctant to involve themselves in worldly affairs.
But this pope rarely hesitates to express himself, on issues ranging from capitalism, to climate change, immigration, abortion or gender ideology.
Now the world and the people of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, need his moral voice crying out against the unspeakable evils of Chinese Communist oppression and aggression.
Instead, from the Vatican — to borrow from the 1970s hit “American Pie” — not a word is spoken; the church bells all are broken.
Or so it would seem.
For three decades, Rick Hinshaw has given voice to faith values in the public square, as a columnist, then editor of The Long Island Catholic; Communications Director for the Catholic League and the N.Y. State Catholic Conference; co-host of The Catholic Forum cable TV show; and now editor of his own blog, Reading the Signs. Visit Rick’s home page at rickhinshaw.com. Read Rick Hinshaw's Reports — More Here.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.