China appoints seven Catholic Bishops – did the Pope just sell out underground churches?

China appoints seven Catholic Bishops.  Huh?  Yes – The Vatican and China signed a provisional deal recognizing 7 state-picked bishops.  That alone is shocking.  But there’s more to the headline.  Here’s the complete headline from USA Today

Vatican, China sign provisional deal recognizing 7 state-picked bishops previously shunned by the church

This begs an obvious question – why is the Vatican all of a sudden OK with seven bishops proposed by China when they had previously rejected them?  OK – two questions – why is China even involved in naming Bishops in the Catholic Church?

China appoints seven Catholic Bishops - did the Pope just sell out underground churches?Provisional Agreement Signed

The article begins:

After decades of negotiations, the Vatican signed a provisional agreement with China Saturday under which Pope Francis will recognize seven bishops appointed by Beijing who were previously not accepted by church authorities.

So there were decades of negotiations.  That means at least twenty years.  Twenty years – maybe more!  According to the official Vatican website, this process goes back to Pope John Paul II.  After all that time, what changed?

Well, one thing that has recently changed, but isn’t mentioned in the article, is a new set of Chinese Religious Regulations.  I’m way behind in putting those up on this site, at least at the time of this writing, but you can check out what’s here so far.

However, the overall tone of the new Chinese Religious Regulations are summed up quite nicely by Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong:

Some Chinese Catholics have opposed such a deal. Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong has warned against selling out the Chinese Catholics who refused to join the state church and endured years of persecution for remaining faithful to Rome.

Zen didn’t reply Saturday to an Associated Press request for comment. But on his blog, he criticized the lack of specifics in the accord, including no mention of the status of several underground bishops named by the pope.

“What is the message this communique conveys to the faithful in China? ‘Trust us! Accept the agreement!,’” he wrote. He said it was tantamount to the Chinese government telling Catholics to “Obey us! We are in agreement with your pope!’”

The problem is, there’s no way China and the Pope should agree on much of anything.  Remember, China is officially an atheist country.  While they do allow certain religions to (sort of) exist – the Communist Party redefines the religion to be compatible with their own ideology.  Given that – what is there that the two should agree on?  If anything, it would be even less than before these new regulations were passed.  The link above shows the previous regulations along side of the new ones, with a description of the differences.  The new ones are clearly more strict than before.

For their part, obviously the Vatican is very positive about this turn of events.  Having said that, the text of the agreement has not been published.  Nor will it be published in the near future.  The Vatican Insider says this about the fact that the text will not be released:

The press release issued by the Vatican and the Chinese government says that the agreement between the People’s Republic of China and the Holy See has been signed, but it does not contain the text of said agreement. It is defined as “provisional” because it includes a period of time – probably a couple of years – to see how it works and assess its effects. The text has not been published because the agreement is considered to be a flexible tool that, with the consent of both parties, can be modified and improved during the experimental application period, even as far as the written text is concerned. For this reason, no details have been provided about the method that will be used in the future to appoint Chinese bishops. However, these procedures must not deviate much from those envisaged in an article that appeared in the daily Chinese newspaper, the Global Times, back in 2010, after an intense period of talks between the Holy See and the Chinese government seemed to have opened the door to a possible agreement concerning the appointment of Catholic bishops in China. 

So we have an unknown agreement, over an unknown length of time, that is open to change.  Tell me – would you accept anything with these things hanging over your head?  I know – Americans accept this kind of thing from our government leaders all the time.  But seriously – this is a man who claims to be God’s representative on earth!  Surely, he can do better.  God would certainly do better.

At that time, in the Communist Party of China’s online newspaper, Chinese researcher Liu Peng, director of the Pu Shi Institute for Social Science, had suggested that the appointment process being discussed during the Chinese-Vatican talks involved bishops being elected by Catholic representatives of the diocese (the priests, plus the representatives of the women religious and lay people) and approved by Chinese political officials, before being presented to the Holy See for evaluation and final approval. The Chinese professor, who seemed to have a good understanding of the matter, explained that the Holy See would have the authority to reject a candidate presented by the diocese who did not appear suitable to the role of bishop. At that point, other candidates would be considered, with more elections and talks, until a candidate was found whom the Holy See deemed worthy of ordination. 

What’s not said here is that the Priests are appointed by the Communist Party.  And the lay people, if they don’t follow the Communist version of “Catholicism” will end up in jail.  So we have three layers of Communist Party people approving the choice for Bishop – and the Pope can either accept that choice or not have an official Bishop.  What’s different?  Only one thing.  The Pope can rubber stamp the Communist Party’s choice for Bishop – or else there will be no Bishop.  No.  Wait.  That’s not different at all.  It’s exactly the same.  Except this time, the Pope approved of it.

But it’s worse – China appoints seven Catholic Bishops

Remember, China chose those seven Bishops.  According to their own atheistic guidelines.  The Pope refuses to let the people know what he signed.  And yet, the Pope tells the Chinese Catholics this, from the official press office of the Vatican :

1. Of late, many conflicting reports have circulated about the present and, in particular, the future of the Catholic communities in China. I am aware that this flurry of thoughts and opinions may have caused a certain confusion and prompted different reactions in the hearts of many. Some feel doubt and perplexity, while others sense themselves somehow abandoned by the Holy See and anxiously question the value of their sufferings endured out of fidelity to the Successor of Peter. In many others, there prevail positive expectations and reflections inspired by the hope of a more serene future for a fruitful witness to the faith in China.

There is, in fact, a great deal of uncertainty.  This agreement, as far as anyone knows, does nothing for the underground church in China.  And while the Pope may be most concerned about the official Catholic Church that is under him, the fact remains that the first church of Jesus Christ was entirely underground churches that were being persecuted by the Jewish leaders and the Romans.  To leave the underground church in China hanging is hard for me to accept or even comprehend.  How can there be a victory when the original model for the church is what we read in Acts – and this agreement does nothing to aid them?

This situation has become more acute, particularly with regard to the Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China, which, as you know, was signed in recent days in Beijing. At so significant a moment for the life of the Church, I want to assure you through this brief Message that you are daily present in my prayers, and to share with you my heartfelt feelings.

Indeed, it is more acute.  They were ignored.

They are sentiments of thanksgiving to the Lord and of sincere admiration – which is the admiration of the entire Catholic Church – for the gift of your fidelity, your constancy amid trials, and your firm trust in God’s providence, even when certain situations proved particularly adverse and difficult.

Yes, the underground churches hope is in God.  Fortunately, at least not all of them are placing their trust in the Pope.  This is only right, since the early church did not place its trust in Peter (whom the Popes supposedly are his successors) but in God.  In fact, Paul wrote this:

Divisions in the Church

1Co 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas’”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

1Co 1:13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? 14 I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Christians are to follow Christ.  Not Peter (Cephas).  Not anyone claiming to be a successor of Peter.  Christ.  Jesus.  Period.  End of discussion.

These painful experiences are part of the spiritual treasury of the Church in China and of all God’s pilgrim people on earth. I assure you that the Lord, through the crucible of our trials, never fails to pour out his consolations upon us and to prepare us for an even greater joy. In the words of the Psalmist, we are more than certain that “those who are sowing in tears, will sing when they reap” (Ps 126[125]:5).

Yes, this is true.  However, it is most unfortunate when we humans – especially Christians – make it necessary for God to have to pour out more consolations.

Let us continue to look, then, to the example of all those faithful laity and pastors who readily offered their “good witness” (cf. 1 Tim 6:13) to the Gospel, even to the sacrifice of their own lives. They showed themselves true friends of God!

This one really comes to the heart of the matter.  Words like good witness, to the Gospel, sacrifice of their own lives.  It’s not the Communist Party approved Bishops who are doing these things.  The very fact that they are being chosen by the Communist Party means they are not good witnesses.  It means they are not preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but the Gospel of the atheistic Communist Party.  They are also certainly not even in danger of sacrificing their lives.

The ones who are doing these things are the leaders of the underground churches.  The ones who are left out of this agreement.  The ones who, under a very logical understanding of what this agreement appears to be about, will be even more at risk than they were before.

Prior to this agreement, there was no Catholic Church in China that was supported by the Pope.  Now, there is one.  Now, the underground church is, essentially, the enemy of both the Communist Party in China AND of the official Catholic Church run by the Pope. 

I can very easily envision the atheist Communist Party in China using this agreement as a further reason to increase the persecution of the underground churches in China.  The end game will be to terminate all of them.  Following existing patterns will mean the leaders of the underground churches will just disappear.  But it’s OK, because they aren’t part of the agreement.

What’s wrong with this picture?

2. For my part, I have always looked upon China as a land of great opportunities and the Chinese people as the creators and guardians of an inestimable patrimony of culture and wisdom, refined by resisting adversity and embracing diversity, and which, not by chance, entered into contact from early times with the Christian message. As Father Matteo Ricci, S.J., perceptively noted in challenging us to the virtue of trust, “before entering into friendship, one must observe; after becoming friends, one must trust” (De Amicitia, 7).

I too am convinced that encounter can be authentic and fruitful only if it occurs through the practice of dialogue, which involves coming to know one another, to respect one another and to “walk together” for the sake of building a common future of sublime harmony.

Dialogue.  Coming to know one another.  Respect one another.  I can’t help but ask – would Jesus use these three concepts when it comes to us and Satan?  Here’s the relevant definition for the word respect, from

esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability:
I have great respect for her judgment.

What exactly is it that Jesus would want us to have esteem for when it comes to Satan?  We really need to realize that Satan is the enemy.  We also need to realize that any country / government that is trying to force a non-Biblical version of God’s Word on its people is also an agent of Satan.  (for more on what China is doing to Christianity, please read Chinese Religious Regulations.)

China is an atheist country.  They want any religion to reflect that atheism and to have its proponents worship the government.  What else do we need to know?  What is there to admire or have esteem for?  Sure, it’s a land of opportunity for the church.  But allowing the government to modify the Christian religion provides an opportunity for Satan – not for God.

I know the excerpt below is rather long.  However – it’s important to see the whole thing.  Notice that Paul, speaking before King Agrippa, does not water down the truth.  He doesn’t mince words.  He tells it like it is.

Paul Before Agrippa

26:12-18 pp — Ac 9:3-8; 22:6-11

Ac 25:23 The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and entered the audience room with the high ranking officers and the leading men of the city. At the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 24 Festus said: “King Agrippa, and all who are present with us, you see this man! The whole Jewish community has petitioned me about him in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. 25 I found he had done nothing deserving of death, but because he made his appeal to the Emperor I decided to send him to Rome. 26 But I have nothing definite to write to His Majesty about him. Therefore I have brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that as a result of this investigation I may have something to write. 27 For I think it is unreasonable to send on a prisoner without specifying the charges against him.”

Ac 26:1 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.”
So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense: 2 “King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently.

Ac 26:4 “The Jews all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. 5 They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee. 6 And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our fathers that I am on trial today. 7 This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. O king, it is because of this hope that the Jews are accusing me. 8 Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?

Ac 26:9 “I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. In my obsession against them, I even went to foreign cities to persecute them.

Ac 26:12 “On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 About noon, O king, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic,‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’

Ac 26:15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
“ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

Ac 26:19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. 21 That is why the Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”

Ac 26:24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”

Ac 26:25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”

Ac 26:28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

Ac 26:29 Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

Ac 26:30 The king rose, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them. 31 They left the room, and while talking with one another, they said, “This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment.”

Ac 26:32 Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

We see at the very end, Paul could have been set free.  But he had already appealed to Caesar.  And that was Paul’s ultimate goal – to preach in Rome.  And so he did.  But like his appearance before the Jewish King, Paul went to Rome and also preached the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  Paul allowed no one to modify his words.  He allowed no one to appoint someone to speak on his behalf.  Paul faithfully delivered the true message of the Gospel – unchanged – as delivered by Jesus.

Is the Pope living up to this precedent when he tells Catholics to respect / admire / have esteem for an agent of Satan?  If you really need an answer – it’s no.  Not in the least.  

This is the context in which to view the Provisional Agreement, which is the result of a lengthy and complex institutional dialogue between the Holy See and the Chinese authorities initiated by Saint John Paul II and continued by Pope Benedict XVI. Through this process, the Holy See has desired – and continues to desire – only to attain the Church’s specific spiritual and pastoral aims, namely, to support and advance the preaching of the Gospel, and to reestablish and preserve the full and visible unity of the Catholic community in China.

The words are nice.  Especially to support and advance the preaching of the Gospel.  But if it’s not the true Gospel, what good is it?  Jesus said this –

A Tree and Its Fruit

Mt 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Mt 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

And Paul wrote this:

Paul and the False Apostles

2Co 11:1 I hope you will put up with a little of my foolishness; but you are already doing that. 2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. 5 But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.” 6 I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.

2Co 11:7 Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! 12 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about.

2Co 11:13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

Is working with the atheist government of China, an agent of Satan, living up to the standards given by Jesus and lived out by Paul?  No way!  False teachers will yield nothing but students who don’t know the truth.  Both are doomed.  It cannot be right for the Catholic church to be a willing participant in all of this.  And then – trying to cover it up by claiming it’s the right thing to do – it’s compounding the sin.

With regard to the importance of this Agreement and its aims, I would like to share with you a few reflections and provide you with some input of a spiritual pastoral nature for the journey we are called to undertake in this new phase.

It is a journey that, as in its earlier stages, “requires time and presupposes the good will of both parties” (BENEDICT XVILetter to Chinese Catholics, 27 May 2007, 4). But for the Church, within and outside of China, this involves more than simply respecting human values. It is also a spiritual calling: to go out from herself to embrace “the joys and the hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially those who are poor or afflicted” (SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 1) and the challenges of the present that God entrusts to us. It is thus an ecclesial summons to become pilgrims along the paths of history, trusting before all else in God and in his promises, as did Abraham and our fathers in the faith.

Called by God, Abraham obeyed by setting out for an unknown land that he was to receive as an inheritance, without knowing the path that lay ahead. Had Abraham demanded ideal social and political conditions before leaving his land, perhaps he would never have set out. Instead, he trusted in God and in response to God’s word he left his home and its safety. It was not historical changes that made him put his trust in God; rather, it was his pure faith that brought about a change in history. For faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received [God’s] approval” (Heb 11:1-2).

ideal social and political conditions are one thing.  But did Abraham participate in teaching a lie about his God?  No.  Is the Pope living out his life, and directing “his” people (actually God’s people) according to the way of Abraham?  Read this – and decide – is he a child of Abraham or a child of something else?

The Children of Abraham

Jn 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jn 8:33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

Jn 8:34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.’”

Jn 8:39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the things your own father does.”
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

Here’s another question for you.  Isn’t false teaching about Jesus the same as “killing” Jesus?  It certainly is to those who listen to and follow the false teacher.  And someone who doesn’t teach the truth – doesn’t love God.  Here’s how Jesus continued the dialogue above.

The Children of the Devil

Jn 8:42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

Enough said.  I believe.  I hope.

3. As the Successor of Peter, I want to confirm you in this faith (cf. Lk 22:32) – in the faith of Abraham, in the faith of the Virgin Mary, in the faith you have received –and to ask you to place your trust ever more firmly in the Lord of history and in the Church’s discernment of his will. May all of us implore the gift of the Spirit to illumine our minds, warm our hearts and help us to understand where he would lead us, in order to overcome inevitable moments of bewilderment, and to find the strength to set out resolutely on the road ahead.

Precisely for the sake of supporting and promoting the preaching of the Gospel in China and reestablishing full and visible unity in the Church, it was essential, before all else, to deal with the issue of the appointment of bishops. Regrettably, as we know, the recent history of the Catholic Church in China has been marked by deep and painful tensions, hurts and divisions, centred especially on the figure of the bishop as the guardian of the authenticity of the faith and as guarantor of ecclesial communion.

I can’t help but wonder, exactly how is allowing an agent of Satan to appoint Bishop candidates is going to allow them to be the guardian of the authenticity of the faith.  A false faith isn’t “the faith”.

When, in the past, it was presumed to determine the internal life of the Catholic communities, imposing direct control above and beyond the legitimate competence of the state, the phenomenon of clandestinity arose in the Church in China. This experience – it must be emphasized – is not a normal part of the life of the Church and “history shows that pastors and faithful have recourse to it only amid suffering, in the desire to maintain the integrity of their faith” (BENEDICT XVILetter to Chinese Catholics, 27 May 2007, 8).

I would have you know that, from the time I was entrusted with the Petrine ministry, I have experienced great consolation in knowing the heartfelt desire of Chinese Catholics to live their faith in full communion with the universal Church and with the Successor of Peter, who is “the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful” (SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 23). In these years, I have received numerous concrete signs and testimonies of that desire, including from bishops who have damaged communion in the Church as a result of weakness and errors, but also, and not infrequently, due to powerful and undue pressure from without.

Yes.  But isn’t the church now becoming a willing participant in allowing weakness and errors to become a part of the standard teaching of Christianity in China?

Consequently, after carefully examining every individual personal situation, and listening to different points of view, I have devoted much time to reflection and prayer, seeking the true good of the Church in China. In the end, before the Lord and with serenity of judgment, in continuity with the direction set by my immediate predecessors, I have determined to grant reconciliation to the remaining seven “official” bishops ordained without papal mandate and, having lifted every relevant canonical sanction, to readmit them to full ecclesial communion. At the same time, I ask them to express with concrete and visible gestures their restored unity with the Apostolic See and with the Churches spread throughout the world, and to remain faithful despite any difficulties.

I don’t see how this is going to happen:  I ask them to express with concrete and visible gestures their restored unity with the Apostolic See and with the Churches spread throughout the world, and to remain faithful despite any difficulties.  They cannot have “restored” unity with the church when they didn’t have unity to begin with.  The only reason these people are nominated to be bishops – by the atheist government of China – is exactly because they are willing to continue to teach the “gospel according to China”.  Otherwise, their churches would have been at risk of being destroyed and they would be at risk for going to jail.

Conclusion – China appoints seven Catholic Bishops –
did the Pope just sell out underground churches?

There is more to this letter.  Much more.  But it’s really more of the same.  More of the Pope apparently selling out the underground churches.

I want to close with this passage we read earlier.  It really says a lot about what’s going on when China appoints seven Catholic Bishops.

2Co 11:13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.


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