The Persistence of China’s Underground Church

On this solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul – and a blessed one to all our readers – it is good to know that there are still principles for which the Church is willing to stand, even unto death: Last year’s agreement between the Vatican and the Chinese Communist government – details of which are not fully known to the public – is fraught with controversy. In ‘normalizing’ relations between the Church and China, it seems to be attempting the impossible, for how can one make normal the inherent abnormality – indeed, the deep, intrinsic evil – of Communism?

Hence, the existence of the underground Church, whose priests, bishops and laity refused to swear allegiance to the corrupt regime set up by Mao Tse-Tung in the aftermath of World War II, who sought to ‘control’ the faithful – for nothing may escape Communism – by the founding of the ‘Patriotic Church’, whose bishops and priests would more or less be government functionaries.

In the aforesaid agreement – a concordat, in technical terms – the Chinese government promised the Church freedom, in exchange for a veto in the choice of bishops.

Well, as critics foretold, the government lied – as is the wont of Communists – and is now coercing all priests to ‘register’, signing a document that they will adhere to the nation’s Communist principles under the euphemism of ‘sinicization’.

Backed into a corner, the Vatican – as in the days of Hitler’s Germany – has now realized the limits of this agreement with evil, declaring that priests need not so register if such goes against the rightful autonomy of the Church, and their own rightly-formed conscience. As the Catholic Herald explains:

If, the document says, “the text of the declaration required for the registration does not appear respectful of the Catholic faith,” priests should specify – in writing if possible, or else in front of witnesses – that the declaration is made only to the extent it is “faithful to the principles of Catholic doctrine.”

“At the same time, the Holy See understands and respects the choice of those who, in conscience, decide that they are unable to register under the current conditions.”

“The Holy See remains close to them and asks the Lord to help them to safeguard the communion with their brothers and sisters in the faith, even in the face of those trials that each one will have to face.”

The ‘trials each one will have to face’ may well include incarceration, indoctrination, torture, martyrdom, as so many have already suffered. So much for Cardinal Parolin’s ‘ideal society’, and it seems the ‘underground’ Church will continue for the foreseeable future,…

But Christ’s promise is with us, that He has overcome the world. So be of good cheer for the form of this world – including paper-thin Communist dictatorships – is already passing away, and all things being made new.