September 15. 2018 (Steven O’Reilly) – I have just seen the news reports that Pope Francis and his Vatican have reached a deal granting the government of China the power to appoint Catholic bishops in China (see here). We may have to wait for the particulars of the deal, but what has been reported is not good. Apparently, part of the deal will require two loyal Catholic bishops to step down while the Vatican will be required to recognize seven excommunicated bishops of the “Patriotic” Church as true bishops. Going forward, as I understand it, the Chinese government will nominate bishops for vacancies. That the Pope has the choice of these government-nominated toadies is meaningless and can be of absolutely no consolation to the long-suffering, persecuted Catholics of China.
Chinese Catholics are – no doubt – bewildered by the news. I cannot help but feel, as the title of the article suggests, that there must be a great sense of real betrayal among our brethren – just as the Christians in the Roman Coliseum might have felt had St. Peter granted the authority to appoint their bishops to the lions who were about to devour them. What can be said by us here in the West to comfort our Catholic brethren in China? Well, in trying to wrap my mind about this development and to understand it, my first thought was to ask myself: “is it not terrible to have an authority – without any love or regard for the perennial faith of the Catholic Church – appointing bishops over you who are not true shepherds; without any seeming care for the orthodox Catholic faith and tradition, or for the flock entrusted to them!” Then I thought, in a sarcastic moment: “hey, wait a minute….we have had precisely that here in the West for the last five years!” We have been given bishops who – to judge more from their public statements and actions – care more about the environment, immigration, communion for adulterers, etc., than the salvation of souls. Frankly, I wondered in that moment: are our Catholic brethren in China really any worse off than we?
I know such sarcasm cannot be of any real comfort; but, I am – otherwise – speechless in the face of this betrayal. My heart and prayers go out to our fellow Catholics in China, who in their faithfulness in the midst of persecution are an example to us all. God bless you.
Steven O’Reilly is a graduate of the University of Dallas and the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is married to Margaret O’Reilly. He lives near Atlanta with his family. He has written apologetic articles and is working on a historical-adventure trilogy, set during the time of the Arian crisis. He asks for your prayers for his intentions. He can be contacted at StevenOReilly@AOL.com (or follow on Twitter: @S_OReilly_USA).