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The ideological temptations at the Vatican

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Feb 06, 2018

If Rome will be preparing for the canonization of Pope Paul VI later this year, only the most hardened ideologues could suggest that this year is the right time to scuttle his heroic encyclical, Humanae Vitae. Come to think of it, maybe the blessed Pontiff—who has already shown his intercessory clout with two miracles involving unborn children—could now intercede to protect the perennial teaching of the Church, which he championed at a great personal cost.

And speaking of hardened ideologues at the Vatican, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo has moved into the realm of self-parody with his claim that China offers the world’s best example of implementing Catholic social teaching. What is it that the loquacious Argentine prelate so admires about the Beijing regime? Its commitment to religious freedom? Can’t be. To the principle of subsidiarity? I doubt it; the entire, vast nation is ruled by a central government. Protection of the environment? Not likely; mainland China is the world’s leading polluter. Respect for the rights of workers? Not in the slave-labor industries. Opposition to the death penalty? Guess again. Nuclear disarmament? Nope.

So what is it, then. The bishop cites a “positive national conscience.” I don’t think he’s referring to the Communist Party’s ideology, which seeks to be the “national conscience.” But I’m at a loss to explain what else he might have in mind. And since Bishop Sanchez Sorondo is chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, this sort of political/economic analysis is an embarrassment to the Holy See.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Feb. 10, 2018 2:05 PM ET USA

    Doggonit, Phil. Didn't you read to the very end of the article? The happy prelate gives the answer to your key question. His answer is found in the 3rd paragraph from the end: ", work, work. There is no other way." He then cites St. Paul: "he who doesn't work, doesn't eat." So there you have it: the best implementation of Catholic social doctrine is not the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, not the "preferential option for the poor," not bringing God to the masses. No. It is slavery.

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Feb. 10, 2018 12:48 AM ET USA

    Perhaps bishop Sorondo has done us a service, unintentionally of course. People have a pretty shrewd notion of the awful kind of place the People’s Republic really is. Now here comes someone representing the Vatican’s current direction, saying “See, if everyone would follow our shiny new modernist Catholicism, the whole world could be like China!” Thanks for clearing that up for us, bishop.

  • Posted by: Retired01 - Feb. 09, 2018 2:04 PM ET USA

    Whomever appointed Bishop Sanchez Sorondo as chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences should certainly be embarrassed.

  • Posted by: MWCooney - Feb. 07, 2018 9:29 PM ET USA

    And he will be publicly reprimanded by Pope Francis, right? Bueller? Bueller?

  • Posted by: feedback - Feb. 06, 2018 10:23 PM ET USA

    I can think only of three possible reasons for the chancellor of a Pontifical Academy to praise China for being the world's best shining example for Catholics: (1) His complete lack of understanding of the regime's attitude towards Christianity and Christians, or (2) Some kind of a delusion, or (3) The common old-fashioned moral corruption with disregard for the truth. Being a Bishop of the Church doesn't make his remarks sound any better; quite the opposite.

  • Posted by: [email protected] - Feb. 06, 2018 10:20 PM ET USA

    If this is the best he can come up with, then indeed the world is lost. His foolish and unmistakable support for China as an example of Catholic social justice shows a strong pro-marxist bent. This should concern many of the faithful and pray this poison does not spread.

  • Posted by: polish.pinecone4371 - Feb. 06, 2018 8:27 PM ET USA

    Oh, come now, Phil. It's obvious the one he's referring to. It's the social doctrine that says countries should force their people to have only child per couple. I’ve read that doctrine – it’s in No. 17 of Humanae Vitae. I saw it, with my own two eyes. Honest.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Feb. 06, 2018 7:49 PM ET USA

    Well said! As I read the article in the Catholic Herald I couldn't believe what I was reading. I think this confirms that Pope Francis is going to sellout the legitimate Catholic Church in China.