Roman Catholic

Vatican Official Says China, Which Persecutes Christians and Murders Dissidents, Is the Country 'Best Implementing the Social Doctrine of the Church'

An Argentinian bishop in Rome may not be the best authority on Chinese politics.

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Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo
Gcmarino / Wikimedia Commons

In his five years as head of the global Catholic Church, Pope Francis has made a number of statements that go well beyond the magisterial purview to teach on faith and morals. Frequently, he steps into the realm of "prudential judgments" on difficult political questions—judgments that involve choosing the best means to a shared end, and judgments about which good and faithful Catholics need not always agree with the pope.

It seems one of his underlings has decided he can do one better, decreeing not just his own policy prescriptions but also his own facts. According to the Catholic Herald, the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, has told Vatican Insider that China is the nation currently "best implementing the social doctrine of the Church."

Taken a face value, the statement is astounding in its obliviousness. We are speaking of a country where forced abortion and even infanticide are the norm—a country that executes more humans a year than any other on Earth; that harasses, detains, tortures, and disappears its critics on a regular basis; that just last year passed a law to "strangle online freedom and anonymity, and further clamped down on media outlets for reporting that departs from the party line," according to Human Rights Watch; that believes religious activities should be controlled by the state; that broke off relations with the Vatican half a century ago to that end; and that has been appointing its own Catholic bishops without consulting the pope ever since. This is the country Sorondo, recently returned from a visit, calls "extraordinary"?

"What people don't realise is that the central value in China is work, work, work," he said. On climate change, he added, the Communist government is "assuming a moral leadership" in the world. Personally, I'd have preferred that the Vatican assume a bit more "moral leadership" in Communist China.

That the statement comes at a delicate moment makes it all the more frustrating. The Church and the Chinese government have been exploring a possibility of rapprochement, with a Vatican spokesman saying that a new agreement could be inked any day. The move would be a controversial one, which many conservative Catholics around the world strongly oppose.

Catholics in China have for the last five decades been split, with some attending unauthorized "underground" churches, led by priests loyal to the pope, and others attending state-sanctioned churches where the clergy is selected (or at least approved) by the government. In an effort to bridge the gap with Beijing, the Vatican is apparently replacing some of its own bishops with men chosen by the Chinese. At The Washington Post, one writer called the pending deal—which presumably would involve more such replacements and arguably would legitimize the Communist regime—"a capitulation of spiritual authority [that] would damage the Catholic Church in China for years to come."

But there are arguments on both sides. The Church has long wished to mend ties with China, and doing so has been a special goal of Pope Francis over the last few years. As Crux's John L. Allen wrote, the world's largest country offers an opportunity to win souls on an incomparable scale, while better relations could improve the situations of the roughly 10 million Catholics already there. And there are many reasons to support greater openness between countries in general, including that human rights abuses are easier to carry out in places that are closed off from the view of the world. During the Cold War, Pope John Paul II famously charted a middle way between isolation of and capitulation to the USSR. He is remembered for helping to bring down Communism through his dogged support of Poland's Solidarity trade union. Trade with China has already nudged the country into economic liberalization of various sorts over the last couple of decades.

Whether the case for dealmaking is strong enough to overcome genuine fears about the Church sacrificing its autonomy is a question that is open to debate. But Bishop Sorondo's laughable suggestion that China is a model of Catholic social teachings takes a complex, controversial political question and answers it in the stupidest possible way. An authoritarian regime guilty of "widespread human rights violations" (to quote Amnesty International) is not a model of Catholic governance. For a senior Vatican official to suggest otherwise hurts the Church's credibility and will rightly mobilize even greater resistance to both this deal in particular and the Francis papacy as a whole.

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  1. A rare moment of honesty from the Vatican.

  2. Why do people listen to this stuff?

  3. “What people don’t realise is that the central value in China is work, work, work,”

    ..or we’ll shoot you.

    1. You know which other communist country says “work or we’ll shoot you”?

      1. I think most of the other ones are too poor to waste ammunition like that. They either beat or starve you to death.

        1. This. Bullets are expensive and need to be conserved to keep out the White Devil Christian Americans.

        2. Nonsense.

          North Korea routinely uses Anti-Aircraft Cannons to kill those who worked poorly……but they do also feed some to dogs, which to my laymen understanding is also approved of by the pontif.

  4. We are speaking of a country where forced abortion and even infanticide are the norm?a country that executes more humans a year than any other on Earth; that harasses, detains, tortures, and disappears its critics on a regular basis; that just last year passed a law to “strangle online freedom and anonymity, and further clamped down on media outlets for reporting that departs from the party line,”

    No FISA court? Bunch of god damn savages.

  5. It’s almost like the pope is a communist or something.

  6. “And also, the Pope says that Hitler was mostly right if only he’d changed up the order of his actions…”


    1. according to Human Rights Watch; that believes religious activities should be controlled by the state; that broke off relations with the Vatican half a century ago to that end; and that has been appointing its own Catholic bishops without consulting the pope ever since. This is the country Sorondo, recently returned from a visit, calls “extraordinary”?

      This reminds me, did you know the government of China also decided that they know the true reincarnation of the Dalai Lama as well, better even than the current Dalai Lama or the people who ‘recognize’ him as an infant? Did you also know that the Chinese government made it illegal in Tibet (and presumably everywhere in China) to reincarnate without government permission?

      It seems the Chinese governments knowledge of spiritual affairs is the ideal of what American’s are looking to do as well, when it comes right down to it. Jesus would need a permit to host his second coming these days.

  7. On that NYPost article, there is this which deserves its own post

    “Cops realize tiger is stuffed animal after 45-minute standoff”

    1. “We’ve fired 900 rounds at this thing, and hit it 5 times, WHY WON’T IT DIE!?!?!?!”

      1. In fairness to the police, they did manage to hit 47 bystanders.

        1. …48 bystanders.

    2. They swore it moved while they were not looking.

  8. I wonder how indicative of anything larger his opinion is. He is a Bishop, but there are over 5000 bishops. I’m sure you can find a lot of statements within it that are not official proclamations of the church.

    Rather ignorant on his part though.

  9. The Pope is Torquemada?

    1. You can’t Torquemada anything.

      1. The Pope is a fucking Catholic. C’mon people.

  10. You might need to first do a little investigating of just what exactly the social doctrine of the Church is before you start assuming you know better than the learned bishop just what qualifies as “best implementing the social doctrine of the Church”.

    1. Agreed.
      “An authoritarian regime guilty of “widespread human rights violations” (to quote Amnesty International) is not a model of Catholic governance.”
      You sure?

      1. This was pretty funny.

      2. ‘I didn’t vote for you!’

      3. “An authoritarian regime guilty of “widespread human rights violations” (to quote Amnesty International) is not a model of Catholic governance.”

        You ARE referring to the priests diddling young boys, right? Or Aren’t those violations?

        Authoritarian – check
        Human rights violations – check
        Widespread – check

        The Church is not a model of Catholic governance!!! Quelle surprise!!

  11. Move over license plate readers. China is ahead of the game.

    http://www.sixthtone.com/news/…..ilway-cops

    The next time a police officer in black-tinted glasses gawks at you, they may be pulling up your personal information.

    Railway police in Zhengzhou, the capital of central China’s Henan province, are the first in the country to start using facial recognition eyewear to screen passengers, the online arm of Party newspaper People’s Daily reported Monday. Security personnel at Zhengzhou East Railway Station donned the new accessories ahead of the Chinese New Year travel rush to help them verify passengers’ identities, spot impostors ? and even catch suspected criminals.

    1. I was in western China late last summer on a driving tour. Every 50km, there was a police stop. Every vehicle had to exit the freeway and stop, every soul had to show papers. Seemingly at random, the cops would select the occupants of a vehicle and they would all have to go inside the building for (I guess) a file pull to make sure you were where you were allowed to be.
      As soon as you exited the freeway to enter a town, you had the same hurdle.
      Averaging 50k/h was difficult even with the minimal traffic. You can forget the noise about ‘The New Silk Road’, unless you want last year’s product for this Christmas.

      1. You can be sure that the New Silk Road will be off-limits to Chinese people.

      2. Viva La Police State!

    2. I hope they use the same Apple face-recognition software that can’t tell Asians apart. They should be able to get it cheap, their kids are making it.

  12. Christ, what an asshole.

  13. ” An authoritarian regime guilty of “widespread human rights violations” (to quote Amnesty International) is not a model of Catholic governance.”
    Actually that pretty well describes Catholic governance for a couple thousand years.

  14. ” An authoritarian regime guilty of “widespread human rights violations” (to quote Amnesty International) is not a model of Catholic governance.”
    Actually that pretty well describes Catholic governance for a couple thousand years.

  15. ” Bishop Marcelo S?nchez Sorondo, has told Vatican Insider that China is the nation currently “‘best implementing the social doctrine of the Church’.”

    You mean it’s legal to rape altar boys in China?

    1. China has a strong tradition of pederasty, but I doubt it’s technically legal these days.

  16. Torturing and murdering dissidents and an ironclad intermingling of Church and State is papist dogma.

  17. He is a Bishop, but there are over 5000 bishops. I’m sure you can find a lot of statements within it that are not official proclamations of the church. hotmail sign in

    1. And how many Popes ?

  18. Just a little bit of actual history reading, not Gibbon ( http://www.catholicworldreport…..f-history/ ), would cure a lot of anti-Catholic bigotry:

    http://www.hprweb.com/2013/09/…..ologetics/

    1. Also, once the skeptic hears that the Church founded the university system in Europe, he might comment that the Church does not practice or uphold academic freedom. This is a harder point to address because it requires the listener to learn that the correct meaning of freedom is to know the truth, and to do the good. His view of freedom may be closer to license: freedom to do, say, and think whatever he wants.

      Nice try, Christian.

  19. He beat out Snowden for Time mag’s person of the year. Time Magazine fucking knows.

  20. “On climate change, he added, the Communist government is “assuming a moral leadership” in the world.”

    By creating as much smog as possible? What is this man going on about?

  21. ” “What I found was an extraordinary China,” he said. “What people don’t realise is that the central value in China is work, work, work. There’s no other way, fundamentally it is like St Paul said: he who doesn’t work, doesn’t eat.”

    Wait, I thought that was the criticism of free market economics? According to Bishop Sorondo the USA is not starving enough non-productive people?

  22. The idiot Pope currently is doing all he can do to kill Catholicism. Good choice, cardinals.

    1. I know a lot of traditional Catholics that think the Pope is indeed a heretic. And for good reason. I was raised Catholic, and although I’m no longer a member of the Church, I have respect for the traditions and the institution. Apparently a lot more respect than the current leader.

      They should have picked from one of the mendicant orders such as Carmelite, Franciscan, or Dominican if they were going to pick from a religious order. Certainly not a Jesuit.

  23. I am sure that Satan is pleased to have one of his own as Pope.

  24. I think the Catholic church does not like democracies and prefers authoritarian governments.

    My crackpot theory is they are looking to the long term. They hope to influence Chinese leaders and eventually convert them. Then, presto/bango millions of new Chinese converts to Catholicism.

    1. So you’re saying the Vatican is sacrificing its principles using the need to expand its power so it can earn victories later as an excuse?

      I wonder: did they learn that from the RNC, or was it the other way around?

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