WSJ: Pope Francis Has Undermined His Moral Authority by Pandering to China

Pope Francis poses for a photo with a group of pilgrims from China during his weekly gener
Massimo Valicchia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

ROME — The editors of the Wall Street Journal have published a searing indictment of Pope Francis, insisting he has undermined the Church’s moral authority by pandering to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The case in point is the Vatican’s renewal Saturday of its secret agreement with the CCP on the appointment of bishops in the country, which since its inception in 2018 has resulted in the ordination of just 6 bishops, despite some 36 vacant episcopal sees.

The chief fruit of the accord has instead been “to mute Vatican criticism of human-rights abuses,” the editors state in Monday’s op-ed, “from the genocide of the Muslim Uyghurs to the political prosecution of Cardinal Joseph Zen in Hong Kong.”

Pope Francis, “who is so critical of the U.S. and capitalism, is silent on China,” the essay asserts. “This is a return to the Vatican’s failed Ostpolitik of the 1960s and 1970s, when Rome muted criticism of the Soviet Union and its East European satellites.”

Indeed, during his nearly eight years as pope, Francis has carefully avoided doing or saying anything that could be construed as criticism of Chinese leadership, including the CCP’s crackdown on Christian churches, its brutal suppression of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, and its horrific genocide of Muslim Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region.

Regarding the latter, reports suggest that more than a million Uyghurs are held in concentration camps in the autonomous Xinjiang territory, where they have are subjected to genetic testing, hard labor, organ harvesting, torture, and forced abortions.

Every year at Christmas and again on Easter, the pope reads out a litany of human rights abuses and situations of suffering and injustice from around the globe and it has become almost comical to watch him dance around China as if nothing problematic were happening there.

In his 2020 Christmas blessing, to take just one example of many, Francis recalled the suffering people of Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, the Yazidis, Israelis and Palestinians, the Lebanese people, Ukraine, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, Ethiopia, Mozambique, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Cameroon, Chile and Venezuela, the Philippines and Vietnam.

In this virtual tour of suffering and injustice, China was somehow omitted, as it is every single time the pope engages in this exercise.

In Monday’s essay, the Wall Street Journal editors draw an unfavorable contrast between the courage of Pope John Paul II in calling out the abuses of the Soviet Union and Francis’ pusillanimity before China’s ongoing trampling of human rights and religious freedom.

While Pope John Paul began his papacy with the message “Be not afraid,” the essay states, the “current Vatican’s motto is: be afraid.”

By giving the CCP a free pass on its criminal misbehavior, Pope Francis has “compromised the moral authority of the Catholic church,” it declares.


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