Secret Agreement Between Red China and Vatican Has Failed
(Rome) The 2018 secret agreement between the Holy See and the Communist rulers of the People's Republic of China has "failed".The well-known Vaticanist Sandro Magister comes to this conclusion and explains why.
On June 7, Msgr. Celli said:The 22nd of September 2020 marks the second anniversary of the signing of the agreement between the Vatican and the Chinese state, the content of which is still being kept secret by both sides.However, some elements could be reconstructed: The focus of the agreement is the appointment of bishops.A new detail was revealed a few days ago.According to the Vatican diplomat Claudio Maria Celli, who was instrumental in creating the agreement, the agreement expires on September 22nd should it not be extended.In fact, the Vatican had always spoken of a “provisional” agreement.
In fact, on June 7th Msgr. Celli said:
"I think we should probably extend it for another year or two.The Holy See has not yet made a decision in this regard, which will then be communicated to the Chinese authorities. ”
The Vatican diplomat also spoke of a “not an easy path”.There were "knots left" that could not be loosened and "situations that are very considerable, I would say, make you worried".
Magister even speaks of a “catastrophic record” that has to be taken into account after almost two years.
Without Hong Kong and Macau, two small territories with special status, the People's Republic of China has 135 dioceses and apostolic prefectures.The ecclesiastical hierarchy, as found by the Communists at the time of their violent takeover in 1949, was decimated.The foreign bishops were expelled from the country, the locals imprisoned.In 1958, the new rulers based on the Eastern Bloc model founded a schismatic church, the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which they directly control.Since then, the situation has not only been difficult, but complicated and confusing.Rome has not officially been able to appoint bishops for 70 years.The rightful, bishops who are faithful to Rome, who often had to spend decades in prisons and concentration camps, tried to appoint successors. They were partly secret, and mostly with the consent of Rome.Many of these rightful bishops were not recognized by the communist regime.Only bishops appointed by the Chinese Communist Party ( CCP) are legitimate church representatives for the regime, which is why some diocese had two bishops: a legitimate underground bishop who was in unity with Rome but was not recognized by the regime, and a schismatic bishop belonging to the regime was used by the communists.In the past 40 years there have been some phases of some relaxation, in which bishops could be used, which were recognized by both sides.The choice of words is not easy, as both sides understand "legitimate" and "official" bishops to be different.
The regime exerts massive pressure on Bishops and priests who are faithful to Rome to join the Regime-related Patriotic Association.Arrests, re-education, demolition of monasteries and the destruction of churches are still part of everyday life for Chinese Christians.
At the time the agreement was signed in 2018, only 72 of the 135 dioceses had a bishop.The other half of the diocese were vacant - and still are.Even after two years of "new relations" between Rome and Beijing, which after 70 years should bring a solution to the appointment of bishops - of the greatest importance to the Church - only 72 diocese are still occupied.In Rome, despite all misgivings, the signing of the secret agreement was justified by the fact that the vacant bishops' seats could finally be filled.
Since then, only two episcopal consecrations have taken place, that of Bishop Anthony Yao Shun, Bishop of Jining, and of Bishop Stephen Xu Hongwei, Bishop Co-Adjutor of Hanzhong.The two bishops, who are recognized by both sides, were appointed in April 2019, but had already been agreed before September 22, 2018.In other words, the agreement did not produce a single episcopal appointment in 21 months.
Not a step forward
Magister goes into even more detail.
At the time of signing the agreement, 50 Chinese dioceses were headed by official bishops, which are recognized by both Beijing and Rome.Seventeen dioceses were headed by legitimate bishops, i.e. underground bishops only recognized by Rome.There were also seven bishops belonging to the regime, appointed by the Chinese Communist Party but not recognized by Rome.These bishops were considered schismatics and were excommunicated.Five of them had been employed by Beijing in vacant dioceses that remained vacant for Rome.The Communists installed two in dioceses that were already headed by a bishop who was faithful to Rome.
In return for the agreement, Pope Francis, in parallel with the signature, lifted the excommunication of these seven bishops in September 2018 and recognized them as official bishops of the dioceses assigned to them by the communists.For this, the two bishops who were faithful to Rome had to resign.However, these did not think of clearing the field for schismatics, who in their eyes were traitors and apostates.They could not understand what Rome was doing.
It took several months for the Vatican to put pressure on the two bishops to make them give in.The main emphasis was on obedience to the Pope.It was precisely because of this obedience that they had been persecuted, while the illegitimate bishops for whom they should now make room were part of the regime because of their disobedience and lived carefree.Some even became members of the Chinese parliament.
The 90-year-old Bishop of Shantou, Peter Zhuang Jianjian, was retired, while the 60-year-old Bishop of Xiapu-Mindong, Msgr. Vincent Guo Xijin, was demoted by Rome to the auxiliary bishop of his diocese and was placed under the previously excommunicated but now official bishop.Bishop Guo, who refused to recognize the dictation because the recognition of the "deal" should also have entailed entry into the regime's Patriotic Association .He paid for his refusal with the loss of freedom.
According to the most staunch defenders of the secret deal, including Agostino Giovagnoli, professor of history at the "Cattolica" in Milan and representative of the Community of Sant'Egidio, and Gianni Valente, editor-in-chief of the mission intelligence service Fides, the diocese of Xiapu-Mindong should become a "model diocese" that would convince the world of the new "Eastern Policy" of the Vatican.Instead, it became "for example, for a one-sided capitulation by the Holy See without the slightest consideration from Beijing," said Magister.
On the contrary: As mentioned, at the time of the signing of the agreement, 17 diocese were headed by legitimate underground bishops who were faithful to Rome.Today there are only twelve.Only two of them were recognized by the regime and are therefore now official bishops legitimized by both sides.Bishop Peter Jin Lugang, Bishop of Nanyang, and Bishop Peter Lin Jiashan, Bishop of Fuzhou.Bishop Lin is already 86 years old.Such old age is not an isolated case, but almost the rule among bishops who are faithful to Rome.Because of the uncertain succession, the rightful bishops try to hold out as long as possible.Of the twelve legitimate bishops, five are over 80. In 2019, another died at an advanced age of 92.It is not just the regime that seems to be expecting a “natural solution” to the problem. [WOW, ruthless.]
This group of bishops continues to be harassed by the Communists, despite the "new relationship" with Rome.Bishop Guo is under strict surveillance, and Bishop Augustine Cui Tai, coadjutor from Xuanhua, has been under house arrest since 2014.The same has been true for Bishop Squidward Ma Daqin of Shanghai since 2012.Bishop Ma had declared resignation from the Patriotic Association on the day of his episcopal ordination and was arrested at the exit of the cathedral.After the change of pontificate, he was forced to submit, which he did in 2015 with the approval of the Roman Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica.With papal printing permission, they praised the move as a model for "reconciliation between the Church in China and the Chinese government".But nothing came of it because the regime no longer trusts him.
"The Holy See or the Pope did not say a word publicly to request the release of these bishops," said Magister.
This is especially true for two legitimate bishops who have disappeared for many years.They may not be alive at all.It is Msgr. Jakob Su Zhimin of Baoding, who today, if he is still alive, would be 88 years old, and Msgr. Cosmas Shi Enxiang, Bishop of Yixian, who would even be 98 years old.Bishop Su was arrested in 1996 and Bishop Shi in 2001. In neither case was it their first arrest.Since then, there has been no trace of them.
The composition of the two organs that control the Church in China on behalf of the Communist Party has also not changed since the agreement was signed.The seven bishops now recognized by Rome, who were formerly schismatic and excommunicated, occupy a leading position there.One of these organs is the so-called Bishops 'Council, which is a regimental replica of the Bishops' Conference.The “only” bishops recognized by Rome are excluded.According to the secret agreement, this body has the right to propose the future bishops to the pope after they have been identified by a regime-controlled "election" in their dioceses.Only representatives of clergy, religious and lay people who are loyal to the regime are entitled to vote.
At the head of the Bishop's Council are three former excommunicated bishops: Joseph Ma Yinglin von Kunming as President, Joseph Guo Jincai von Chengde as first deputy and general secretary and the aforementioned Vincent Zhan Silu from Xiapu-Mindong as second deputy.There are another eight deputy presidents and "of course all of them bear the stamp of the Chinese government," said Magister.
The second body is the Patriotic Association, which has been mentioned several times, and its President John Fang Xingyao, Bishop of Linyi, and his four deputies all belong to the group of schismatics who had been excommunicated until 2018.The first deputy is Bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin von Kunming, the President of the Bishop's Council.
The Bishops of the People's Republic of China
Magister published an overview of the bishops in the People's Republic of China as evidence that the secret agreement benefited the regime but not the Catholic Church.
Official Bishops (recognized by Rome and the Beijing regime)
Vincent Zhan Silu, born1961, Xiapu-Mindong
Joseph Huang Bingzhang, born1967, Shantou
Joseph Liu Xinhong, born1964, Anhui
Paul Lei Shiyin, née1963, Leshan
Joseph Ma Yinglin, born1965, Kunming
Joseph Guo Jincai, born1968, Chengde
Joseph Yue Fusheng, born1964, Harbin-Heilongjiang
Joseph Li Shan, born1965, Beijing
Francis An Shuxin, née1949, Baoding
Peter Feng Xinmao, born1963, Jingxian
Joseph Liu Liangui, born1964, Xianxian-Cangzhou
Joseph Sun Jigen, born1967, Yongnian-Handan
Peter Fang Jianping, born1962, Yongping-Tangshan
Methodius Qu Ailin, born1961, Changsha
Joseph Tang Yuange, born1963, Chengdu
Joseph Chen Gong'ao, née1964, Nanchong
Paul He Zeqing, born1968, Wanxian-Wanzhou
John Lei Jiaipei, born1970, Xichang
Peter Luo Xuegang, born1964, Yibin
Joseph Cai Bingrui, born1966, Xiamen
Joseph Gan Junqiu, born1964, Guangzhou
Paul Su Yongda, born1958, Beihai-Zhanjiang
Paul Liang Jiansen, born1964, Jiangmen
Joseph Liao Hongqing, born1965, Meixian-Meizhou
Paul Xiao Zejiang, born1967, Guiyang-Guizhou
Matthew Cao Xiangde, née1927, Hangzhou
Paul Meng Qinglu, born1962, Hohhot
Joseph Li Jing, born1968, Yinchuan-Ningxia
Matthias Du Jiang, born1963, Bameng
Joseph Zhang Xianwang, born1965, Jinan
John Fang Xingyao, born1953, Linyi
Joseph Zhao Fengchang, born1934, Yanggu-Liaocheng
John Lu Peisan, born1966, Yanzhou
Joseph Yang Yongqiang, born1970, Zhoucun
Joseph Zhang Yinlin, born1971, Jixian-Anyang
Joseph Han Zhihai, born1966, Lanzhou
Nicola Han Jide, born1940, Pingliang
John Baptist Li Sugong, born1964, Nanchang-Jiangxi
Francis Savio Lu Xinping, born1963, Nanjing
Joseph Shen Bin, born1970, Haimen
Joseph Xu Honggen, born1962, Suzhou
John Wang Renlei, née1970, Xuzhou
John Baptist Tan Yanquan, née1962, Nanning Guanxi
Paul Pei Junmin, born1969, Shenyang-Liaoning
Paul Meng Ningyu, born1963, Taiyuan
Peter Ding Lingbin, born1962, Changzhi
John Huo Cheng, born1926, Fenyang
Paul Ma Cunguo, born1971, Shuoxian-Shouzhou
Anthony Dan Mingyan, born1967, Xi'an
Peter Li Huiyuan, born1965, Fengxiang
Louis Yu Runshen, née1930, Hanzhong
Stephen Yu Hongwei, born1975, coadjutor Hanzhong
Anthony Yao Shun, née1965, Jining
Joseph Han Yingjin, born1958, Sanyuan
John Baptist Yang Xiaoting, born1964, Yan'an-Yulin
Joseph Martin Wu Qinjing, born1968, Zhouzhi
John Baptist Ye Ronghua, born1931, arrival
John Baptist Wang Xiaoxun, née1966, Koadjutor Ankang
Joseph Tong Changping, born1968, Tongzhou-Weinan
Peter Wu Junwei, born1963, Xinjiang-Yuncheng
Peter Lin Jiashan, born1934, Fuzhou
Peter Jin Lugang, born1955, Nanyang
Legitimate bishops (underground bishops recognized only by Rome)
Vincent Guo Xijin, born1958, officially Auxiliary Bishop Xiapu-Mindong, monitored
Thomas Zhao Kexun, born1924, Xuanhua
Augustine Cui Tai, born1950, Xuanhua, Koadjutor, house arrest
Julius Jia Zhiguo, born1935, Zhengding
Joseph Hou Guoyang, born1922, Chongqing
John Baptist Wang Ruohan, née1950, Kangding
Peter Shao Zhumin, born1963, Yongjia-Wenzhou
Joseph Gao Hongxiao, born1945, Kaifeng
John Wang Ruowang, née1961, Tianshui
John Pei Weizhao, born1966, Yujiang
Andreas Han Jingtao, born1921, Siping-Jilin
Joseph Wej Jingyi, born1958, Qiqihar-Heilongjiang
Joseph Zhang Weizhu, born1958, Xinxiang
Thaddeus Ma Daqin, born1968, Shanghai, deposed by the regime, house arrest
Emeritus official bishops
Stephen Yang Xiangtai, born1922, Emeritus Yongnian
Peter Zhang Zhiyong, born1932, Emeritus Fengxiang
Joseph Zhong Huaide, born1922, Emeritus Sanyuan
Rightful bishops emeritus and those who have withdrawn under pressure
Peter Zhuang Jianjian, born1931, Emeritus Shantou
Melchior Shi Hongzhen, born1929, Emeritus Koadjutor Tianjin
Joseph Shi Shuang-xi, born1967, Emeritus Auxiliary Bishop Yongnian
Placido Pei Ronggui, born1933, Emeritus Luoyang
Pietro Mao Qingfu, born1963, withdrawn, Luoyang
Joseph Xing Wenzhi, born1963, Emeritus Auxiliary Bishop Shanghai
Mattia Gu Zeng, born1937, Emeritus Xining
John Zhang Qingtian, born1956, Auxiliary Bishop Yixian
John Chen Cangbao, born1959, withdrawn, Yixian
Disappeared legitimate bishops
Jakob Su Zhimin, born1932, Baoding, disappeared in 1996
Cosmas Shi Enxiang, born1922, Yixian, disappeared in 2001
If Bishop Su Zhimin was still alive, he would have spent more than 50 years in concentration camps and imprisoned him.
Finally, there is Bishop Paul Wang Huiyao, who was appointed Rome's underground bishop of Zhouzhi in 2002.However, in 2015 Msgr. Joseph Martin Wu Qinjingo was appointed as the "official" bishop of the same diocese, recognized by Rome and the regime.Wang, born in 1959, continues to work in the diocese of Zhouzhi, which he regards as his diocese, but without any recognition.
The history of the many late legitimate bishops, such as Bishop Joseph Fan Xueyan von Baoding, who was tortured to death by the Chinese state police in 1993, has yet to be written.