ROME — Chinese Catholics are reportedly pessimistic about Pope Francis’s upcoming visit to Asia, convinced that it will do nothing to ease persecution by the communist government.
A consensus among Catholics in China suggests that the Vatican-China accord on the naming of bishops “has led to more repression,” reported UCA.News, the leading independent Catholic news source in Asia.
A similar report published last week by AsiaNews, the official press agency of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, said that many of the Chinese Catholic faithful have expressed regret over the Vatican agreement with the Communist government, saying it has emboldened officials in their persecution of Christians.
The accord reassures and encourages government authorities, who claim that “the Vatican supports us,” local Catholics of the diocese of Handang noted.
The Vatican has published the pope’s travel plans, which include a three-day stop in Thailand from November 20-23 followed by three more days in Japan, visiting Tokyo, Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Japan from Nov. 23-26.
The UCA.News report cites Wang Baolu, a Catholic in Hebei, who said he still wonders why the pope signed a secret deal with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on the appointment of bishops, adding that the move has done nothing to improve religious freedom but has instead led to more persecution of Christians.
“Whether he comes or not makes no difference,” Wang said regarding a possible papal visit to China. “Is he coming to see how badly we are being betrayed by him?”
Wang said that if the pope signs another agreement with the CCP, the Church in China will be “completely handed over to Satan.”
Another lay Catholic from Shandong, Zou Haiming, said the pope’s Asia trip will have little effect on the Church in China, but added he would like Francis to come to China to see how badly the Communists are persecuting the Catholic Church.
Zou said the signing of the Sino-Vatican accord has brought nothing good to Shandong Catholics.
“On the contrary, the bishops sing red songs [praising the revolution], churches continue to be demolished, and Catholics feel nothing beneficial brought by this agreement, but the suppression and persecution are getting tighter and tighter, overwhelming them,” Zou said.
One Catholic nun from Henan had even stronger words of condemnation for the Communist Party and its persecution of Christians.
“The Henan Church has been oppressed by the CCP in such a way that it is no longer the Church of God,” said Sister Sun from Henan.
“Children can’t go to church, many churches have been demolished, and religious signs have been replaced by traditional, cultural and patriotic education symbols,” she said. “It means that churches are no longer the sacred places of the Lord.”