Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic World News

Pope drops Hong Kong reference from Sunday talk

July 06, 2020

Pope Francis dropped a reference to Hong Kong, and a plea for religious freedom there, from the text of his message at his Sunday public audience on July 5.

In a text that had been given to Vatican journalists before the Angelus audience, the Pope was to devote a few sentences to rising tensions in Hong Kong, as China imposes harsh new security measures, cracking down on dissidents.

But shortly before the papal audience, journalists were advised that the Pope would not deliver those remarks on the situation in Hong Kong. The Vatican gave no explanation for the last-minute change.

In the text distributed before the event, the Pope was to have mentioned his concern about recent developments in Hong Kong, and said:

I hope therefore that all the people involved will know how to face the various problems with a spirit of far-sighted wisdom and authentic dialogue. This requires courage, humility, non-violence, and respect for the dignity and rights of all. I thus express the desire that societal freedom, and especially religious freedom, be expressed in full and true liberty, as indeed various international documents provide for it.

The curious omission of those sentiments led to speculation that the Pope’s message—mild as it was—was suppressed out of concern that it would provoke an angry reaction from sensitive officials in Beijing. The Vatican has been extremely careful to maintain friendly relations with the Chinese regime, and has avoided public expressions of concern about threats to religious liberty—both in Hong Kong and on the mainland.

Vatican officials are reportedly anxious to renew a secret agreement with Beijing, governing the appointment of new bishops in China. The agreement—which has been strongly criticized by Cardinal Joseph Zen, the former Bishop of Hong Kong—is due to expire in September of this year.

Under the terms of that agreement—the details of which have never been made public—the Chinese government recognizes the authority of the Pope to appoint new bishops, from a slate of candidates proposed by the Beijing regime. But to date the agreement has failed to produce a breakthrough in the installation of new bishops. The South China Post reports: “No new heads have been chosen for the 52 bishop-less dioceses in the two years since the agreement was signed, according to sources with knowledge of the negotiations, who declined to be named.”


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  • Posted by: grateful1 - Jul. 07, 2020 11:08 AM ET USA

    Another abject, pathetic surrender to the Communists by Francis. Christians in general and Catholics in particular are being brutally persecuted, yet he has nothing whatsoever to say about it. He'd rather preach about climate change and criticize capitalism. What do the ChiComs have on him, apart from his natural sympathies for Leftists of all stripes?

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jul. 07, 2020 7:36 AM ET USA

    The dover beachcomber mentioned the Vatican taking another hit to its prestige and influence. From what I can determine by paying attention to reliable reports and sources, the only groups that believe they can make use of this prestige and influence would be leftist political organizations such as German lay and clerical leadership, Democrat politicians in the U.S. and their leftist counterparts in Europe and elsewhere, the bishops conferences of Argentina and elsewhere, and other manipulators.

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Jul. 06, 2020 7:01 PM ET USA

    And thus the Chinese Communist Party may have arranged a win-win situation for themselves. If the leverage they bought remains secret, they get to use It to blackmail the Vatican into compliance with their future plans. If the leverage is made public, the Vatican takes another huge hit to its prestige and influence, and thus the Party’s plans are also advanced, just by other means. Thanks a lot, Your Holiness!

  • Posted by: feedback - Jul. 06, 2020 12:25 PM ET USA

    It was extremely naive to assume that a powerful and arrogant communist regime would be willing to assist in installing 52 new Catholic bishops. And, if the 'deal' included secret payments from China, it will be forever used by the regime as a leverage against the Vatican. The wisest strategy at this point would be to make public every detail the 'deal,' no matter how embarrassing.