ROME — Pope Francis instigated a recent high-level meeting between Vatican and Chinese officials, according to reports this week in the South China Morning Post.
As Breitbart News reported, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a historic meeting last Friday with his Vatican counterpart, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, to celebrate their bilateral accord on the naming of Catholic bishops in China.
A Vatican press release made no mention of how the meeting came about, but said that the two leaders had evoked the positive developments of the ongoing relations between the Peoples Republic of China and the Holy See and especially “the importance of the Provisional Agreement on the appointment of Bishops, signed on 22 September 2018.”
On Monday, the South China Morning Post ran an article asserting that “two sources” had confirmed that the first-ever meeting between the foreign ministers of China and the Vatican had been “initiated and approved by Pope Francis.”
“The Pope was ‘eager’ to use the talks to explore ‘renewal or formalisation’ of a provisional deal reached in 2018 to allow the Vatican to appoint bishops pre-approved by Beijing,” the article stated, citing one of the unnamed sources.
While the Vatican has indeed celebrated the secret agreement — the provisions of which have never been disclosed — as an important milestone in Sino-Vatican relations, critics have denounced the accord as naïve Vatican capitulation to the powerful Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and a betrayal of the millions of members of the underground Catholic Church in the country.
The most vocal critic of the Chinese-Vatican deal has been the former bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen, who has attributed the agreement to Pope Francis’s ignorance of Chinese communism.
“Francis may have natural sympathy for Communists because for him, they are the persecuted,” Zen wrote in a 2018 op-ed. “He doesn’t know them as the persecutors they become once in power, like the Communists in China.”
In an interview last week, Cardinal Zen continued in the same vein, insisting Communists “never accept compromise.”
“They want full surrender. And so now we are at the bottom. They finished the operation selling the Church,” he said.
“With a totalitarian regime, there’s no possibility of any talk or bargaining. No, no,” Zen said. “They just want you on your knees.”