Pope Francis with Cardinal Zuppi, whose next destination is said to be China.
(Beijing) Since 1980, only two cardinals -- one French and one American -- have visited Beijing more than once. Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, the papal special envoy for the Ukraine conflict, would be the third since 1951 when the then Apostolic Nuncio Msgr Antonio Riberi was expelled by the Communist rulers.
For several days, the Holy See has been promoting media expectations in various ways that the papal special envoy, after his visits to Kiev, Moscow and Washington, could also visit China in the near future. There is talk of him traveling to Beijing as early as mid-August, immediately after World Youth Day in Portugal.
Zuppi's four travel destinations show the conflicting parties in the Ukraine war and at the same time the global balance of power.
Cardinal Zuppi would be the first official senior Vatican official to visit Beijing since Cardinal Roger Etchegaray. He would even arrive with the rank of papal special envoy and, it is said, with a personal letter from Pope Francis to China's head of state and party leader Xi Jinping.
After Cardinal Etchegaray, however, another wearer of the purple traveled to China. This is a very opaque chapter. In 2016, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was in the Communist "Middle Kingdom". The mission with which the then extremely powerful US cardinal set foot in China is still unclear to this day. He had even traveled to Beijing several times to cultivate confidential contacts with high-ranking Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials.
McCarrick, who sat at the center of Western power as Archbishop of Washington until 2010, was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI., had been sanctioned for allegations of abuse, which were not yet known in detail at the time. However, these were lifted by Pope Francis in 2013. Under the Argentine Pope, McCarrick even rose to become the most influential US cardinal, influencing a whole series of bishop appointments in the USA, appointments of Americans to Rome and promotions of those in Rome. McCarrick fell out of favor in 2018 when The New York Times exposed his double life as a homosexual pederast. The reasons why this disclosure came about and why exactly at that point in time are still unclear.
In any case, McCarrick lost his cardinal dignity and was then also laicized. However, his numerous homo-progressive protégés are still in office and continue to be promoted and promoted by Pope Francis to the best of their ability.
His China contacts only became known relatively late. Since there is no official information on this, one can only speculate about the purpose, content and scope of these relationships. They are commonly associated with the secret agreement signed between the Holy See and the People's Republic of China on September 22, 2018 and renewed in 2020 and 2022. According to this interpretation, McCarrick, who had already fallen at the time of signing, had prepared the agreement. However, observers only agree that the US cardinal's trips to China can only have taken place with papal approval.
Since it is a secret agreement, its contents have not been made public to this day. What is known, however, is that the procedure for appointing bishops is regulated in it. However, there is a problem with the implementation. Beijing only adheres to this to a limited extent, but the Holy See nods benevolently, as it did recently in connection with the appointment of the new bishop of Shanghai.
The question is how high Francis' pain threshold is and why he accepts that the Communist rulers simply ignored him in several cases despite the agreement. Some observers therefore assume that Francis is not primarily concerned with the appointment of bishops, but with setting the geopolitical course.
After the Communists had won the Chinese civil war in 1949 and seized power in the country, they broke off diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 1951. The then Apostolic Nuncio Msgr. Antonio Riberi was expelled from the country. Since then there have been no official diplomatic relations between the two subjects of international law. Cardinal Etchegaray was the first Vatican representative to return to China in 1980. At that time, the newly elected Pope John Paul II tried to resume relations with Beijing. He cherished the desire to be the first pope to visit Russia, but also China. Both were denied to him and so far also to his successors.
In order not to block the way to Beijing, all the popes of the past decades turned down invitations to Taiwan, the former Chinese province (Formosa) to which the defeated national Chinese forces withdrew and where they set up their own state with US support. Both parts of China claim to represent the whole of China.
In 1983, John Paul II wrote a long letter to the then Chinese ruler Deng Xiaoping, which he never answered.
His successor Benedict XVI tried no less, around China and the free exercise of religion for the Catholic Church. He wrote a letter to China's Catholics and in 2008 published a prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan, China's most important Marian shrine, which is very popular and frequently prayed among Chinese Catholics. He also had the later Cardinal Fernando Filoni, when he was Apostolic Nuncio in the Philippines, strengthening contacts with Hong Kong. This former British crown colony was handed back to China in the late 1990s on the promise of maintaining democratic conditions and extensive self-government. Cardinal Filoni set up a so-called study mission for relations with China in Hong Kong, which acted as a kind of diplomatic representation. In the meantime, this institution was closed by Pope Francis as part of his "new Ostpolitik" in order to provide a kind of advance payment to Beijing.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: VaticanMedia (screenshot)
Trans: Tancred vekron99@hotmail.Com