Holy See seeks to move office from Hong Kong to Beijing

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Commentator: A first step in the complete annihilation of HK’s remaining freedom of belief

Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin says the Holy See plans to move its office from Hong Kong to Beijing, amid a recent report that CCP authorities had earlier refused Pope Francis’ suggestion to meet with CCP leader Xi Jinping. Frank Xie, an expert on China issues and a tenured professor at the University of South Carolina’s Aiken School of Business, said the CCP’s refusal to see the pope is its way of showing it has the upper hand (in its relations with the Holy See). From the office relocation plan, two things stand out. First, it is one more sign that the Vatican is trying to appease the CCP; and secondly, it is a prelude to the complete annihilation of the last free beliefs that Hongkongers still enjoy.

The widely circulated Italian newspaper Il Messagero reported on September 16 that Parolin had mentioned in a media interview during a visit to Kazakhstan recently that the Holy See had always offered to move its office from Hong Kong to Beijing and did not disagreed that it was a new idea. It is yet to be realized solely because there has been no response from Beijing to date on the proposal.

If the Hong Kong office were to move to Beijing, it would be the first time a quasi-diplomatic dialogue channel would be re-established by the Vatican after the CCP severed diplomatic relations in 1951.

Professor Xie slammed the Vatican’s plan to move the Hong Kong office to Beijing as “scandalous,” saying it further appeases the CCP and succumbs to the CCP’s crude demands. It is also “a prelude to a complete annihilation of what remains as the last freedom of belief and its trust in God”.

The Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported on September 19 that the delegation, to date, is not an embassy, ​​which lessens the burden on the Vatican. If the Vatican wants to establish an embassy in mainland China, it must close the embassy in Taipei and cut diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

The Vatican maintains diplomatic relations with the government of the Republic of China in Taiwan. Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera quoted an unnamed senior Vatican diplomat as saying in October 2021 that the CCP had asked the Holy See to first cut off trade with Taiwan in order to establish diplomatic relations with China. The Holy See demanded to “create an embassy in Beijing” before discussing the Taiwan-Vatican relationship. The CCP did not accept the request and the inability to reach an agreement on the issue paralyzed the situation.

Prediction: Religious freedom won’t exist for long in Hong Kong

The Vatican sent unofficial emissaries to Hong Kong. The current representative in Hong Kong, José Luis Diaz Mariblanca Sanchez, took office in July 2022.

The Vatican is still seeking closer ties with the CCP and is eager to move its Hong Kong office to Beijing, a move quite different from the views of the previous charge d’affaires in Hong Kong.

Reuters reported on July 5, 2022 that Monsignor Javier Herrera-Corona, the Vatican’s former charge d’affaires in Hong Kong, warned before leaving office in March that the Catholic Church in Hong Kong would, in future , subject to restrictions similar to those imposed on religious groups in mainland China and that the years of freedom they had enjoyed are over. He said: “Change is coming, and you better be prepared”, “Hong Kong is not the great Catholic beachhead it used to be”, Reuters reported.

The source said that at the time, Herrera’s concerns went beyond the authorities’ crackdown in the name of “Hong Kong’s National Security Law (NSL)” and warned that the integration of Hong Kong Kong with the mainland would lead to “mainland-style restrictions on religions”. groups.”

On the other hand, the report also mentioned that before the implementation of the NSL in 2020, Herrera and other envoys had started transferring more than half a ton of files from Hong Kong to Rome in 2019, in party through friendly diplomatic relations. The files contain details of private correspondence with underground clergy in mainland China, missionary activities and the persecution of Catholics from the mid-1980s. The report quotes a “Catholic clergyman familiar with the situation” saying that the envoy The Vatican initially feared that this mission would be scrutinized and uncovered by Chinese state security agencies, but eventually the files were successfully moved.

The CCP refuses a meeting between the pope and Xi Jinping

Recently, Pope Francis and CCP leader Xi Jinping were both in Kazakhstan for different activities. The pope sought to meet Xi during his stay, but Chinese authorities refused the request, saying Xi did not have time.

According to Xie’s analysis, the CCP’s rudeness and indifference shown in refusing to meet with Pope Francis is likely due to the fact that he is not satisfied with the Vatican’s concessions on the appointment of bishops and continues to “demand more control.

The milestone in the relationship between the CCP and the Vatican in recent years can be attributed to a secret agreement signed by the two parties at the end of September 2018 – a two-year provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops. The details of the agreement are secret, but it is generally known that it was an agreement allowing the co-appointment of bishops by the CCP and the Holy See in mainland China. The agreement is renewed every two years. Upon its renewal in 2020, Parolin proclaimed that the agreement “helps Chinese believers to have a normal religious life.” He also made it clear that he refused to interpret the agreement politically and said that issues of human rights and religious freedom in China could not be rushed.

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, bishop emeritus of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong, publicly accused Parolin of controlling the pope at the time. In an exclusive interview with The Epoch Times, he said, “The upper echelon of the Holy See has pushed this policy of compromise,” adding that Parolin “is not at all for the faith, but maybe just for the vanity. I don’t know if there are any other secret deals with the CCP, I don’t know. Zen also said Parolin could have his own agenda as he defends the deal even though he knows the CCP is evil.

Zen published a long article in English on October 9, 2020, calling Secretary of State Parolin’s speech “sickening” and pointed out that Parolin was in no way stupid or ignorant, but was just lying between his teeth, l accusing him of being not only a shameless liar but also a daring one.

Zen: Parolin controls the pope and compromises with the CCP

Zen also pointed out at the time that in the two years since the deal was struck, China’s persecution of believers has intensified, including the disappearance of underground churches and the banning of minors. under the age of 18 to enter churches and participate in religious activities. The so-called “sinicization of Catholicism” has made Catholicism the “religion” of the Communist Party, with the State and the Party as its leader.

Since the signing of the provisional agreement, the Pope has participated in the appointment of six bishops from the continent; but at the same time, seven “illegal bishops” who had been appointed before the signing of the provisional agreement were legalized after the agreement. In an exclusive interview with Reuters on July 2, 2022, the pope said he hoped to renew the provisional agreement in October, saying the deal was well implemented, and he described it as a diplomatic achievement.

Cardinal Zen was born in Shanghai in 1932, before the establishment of Communist-ruled China, and fled to Hong Kong when he was 16. Diocese of Kong to receive this honor. On May 11, 2022, he was arrested by the National Security Department of the Hong Kong Police for his involvement with the “612 Humanitarian Relief Fund”.

Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun visited the Vatican to request a meeting with the pope in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. He waited four days in vain. (Facebook profile picture/Zen Ze-kiun)

Pope wants to renew provisional agreement after legalization of ‘illegal bishops’

Professor Xie said that under Pope Francis, the Vatican “continually communicated with the CCP in secret, which deviates from the teachings of Catholicism and the expectations of Catholics around the world.” He also criticized the CCP as an anti-human, anti-religious and anti-God tyranny. “As the spiritual leader of all Catholics in the world, how can he join the CCP and allow CCP officials and a group of atheist gangsters to participate and appoint bishops at all levels? He believes the Vatican is ignoring the CCP’s suppression of true believers in God in mainland China and the blasphemy of Catholic teachings by the CCP-controlled fake Catholic Church. “The constant contacts and negotiations with the CCP are really shocking,” he said.

Xie also compared the Pope’s attitudes towards Xi Jinping and Cardinal Zen: “The Vatican refused to see Bishop Joseph Zen of Hong Kong, leaving old Cardinal Zen to wait days without seeing the Pope, while at the same time he lowered himself to the level of the leader of the Chinese Communist Party to ask for an audience. It’s really sad. »

For reference, in 2020, Cardinal Zen traveled alone to the Vatican on September 23 to ask to see the pope at the height of the pandemic, but he waited four days in vain. Zen said the idea of ​​the Holy See renewing the bishop’s appointment agreement with the CCP is “crazy,” like “dancing with the devil.” Many Italian media also joined in and spoke for him.

As for the possibility of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the Vatican, Xie said that during the term of Pope Francis, there is a growing possibility of this happening. “If this happens, it will be a tragedy for Catholicism, a day when freedom of belief in Hong Kong will be buried, and Catholicism in Taiwan will suffer serious consequences.”

The Catholic Church in Hong Kong has also been suspected of being influenced by the CCP in recent years. On January 3, 2019, Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung of the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong passed away and the post of bishop remained vacant for 28 months. During this period, the Vatican appointed Cardinal Emeritus John Tong Hon as Apostolic Administrator of the diocese. At that time, it was known that the Holy See had initially proposed Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing to take over as bishop. But since Ha was known to have repeatedly shown his support for the anti-extradition movement, the Holy See was believed to have come under political pressure to appoint Beijing favorite Reverend Choy Wai Man as vice-bishop of the Diocese of Hong. Kong, as ordinary bishop. Eventually, however, the pope appointed a Jesuit priest, Father Stephen Chow Sau-yan, to succeed as bishop of Hong Kong.

Epoch Times Photo
Professor Frank Xie Tian, ​​a China expert, said the Holy See’s plan to move its office from Hong Kong to Beijing is an indication that the Vatican is trying to further appease the CCP. (Sun-Mingguo/The Epoch Times)
Nie Law

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