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The Significance of the Pope’s Slap

Margaret C. Galitzin
Strangely, the widely reported incident of the Pope slapping a Chinese woman on his walk through St. Peter’s Square on December 31, 2019, has a link to what is the most unreported story of the year.

slap

The famous slap - closely connected to a hidden and unreported story

That story is the Vatican’s great betrayal of Chinese Underground Church and the renewed persecution of the communist authorities of faithful Catholic priests and laity, that is, those who refuse to join the State-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA), which in practice rules the “official Catholic Church” in China.

The Rome-Beijing “deal,” approved by Francis last year, ceded the Church’s right to appoint Bishops and formally recognized the CPA as the sole representative of the Catholic Church in China. Because of this Accord, the Underground Church is suffering new persecutions and pressures to merge with the CPA. And this time, the Chinese authorities objectively affirm, they are acting with the approval of the Vatican.

Now, let me go back to the story of the slap. What the English-speaking press is reporting leaves out an important detail. They are describing the woman who grabs the Pope’s hand as “Asian,” “an agitated fan,” “a female devotee,” etc.

The impression we are left with is that this emphatic admirer reached out, yanked our feeble Pope’s hand, and rudely insisted on hanging on so she could deliver a few words of praise or personal requests. The press is reporting her words were indistinguishable.

The responses to the incident have fallen into one of two camps:
  • The Pope was rude to slap the woman’s hand twice and walk away showing an obvious anger and irritation. In short, the shepherd lost his cool and beat one of his ewes and then went on to deliver a New Year’s address condemning any kind of physical violence to women. The bad Francis. Contradictory, ill-tempered, temperamental.

  • The poor Pope was the victim. The “Asian” lady jerked his hand so strongly he felt a wrenching pain and reacted naturally, losing his temper. The woman was out of line. A “sincere” apology followed and all should be forgiven and forgotten. The good Francis. Spontaneous, impromptu, just having a “one of us” moment.
slap pope c hinese woman praying

The China emissary prays to prepare before delivering her crucial message

cxheerful Pope

A cheerful Pope until he hears her words

furious pope slap

The Supreme Shepherd, furious and irritated at her request for help for Chinese Catholics

At any rate, the general verdict on both sides now is that the episode is over-reported and should be set aside.

Significant details have been left out of this misadventure, however. The woman was Chinese, probably from mainland China and obviously with a poor knowledge of English, given the words she addressed to the Pope. She was not some fanatical Beatles-style fan who was trying to touch the Pope.

Anyone who watches the video can see she was very serious and recollected, crossing herself before the Pope reached her in the line, saying a prayer that her words would be heard by the Vicar of Christ and Shepherd of the Flock in this Christmas season.

When the Pope started to sail past her, she reached out to deliver her message, a plea not just from one woman but a message from the hearts of many faithful Catholics in China who are suffering the harsh new persecution from the Communist Regime. Her words, reported by foreign sources that – unlike the English speaking press – were able to discern them, were these: “Hold! Hold! Look for the Chinese village” They are losing the faith!”

Translated to a better vernacular, her message to Francis was: “Wait! Wait! Take care of the Chinese people. They are losing the faith.!”

Regardless of her bad English, Francis got the message. That is what irritated him, I believe, and made him indignant. He didn’t want to hear about the sad plight of the Chinese Catholics or respond to a vehement plea for pastoral protection.

After all, he is the one instructing the Underground Church to dismantle and join the government-controlled CPA, to submit to the Communist State, to forget the half-century fight of the persecuted Catholic Church to maintain the true Faith.

He is the one ignoring the fact that the first action of the Chinese government after the signing of the Accord with Rome was to demand that all the bishops officially re-affirm their loyal to the Communist Party. Then, an immediate persecution began against any of the Underground Bishops and laity who refused to join the CPA.

For this reason, as this courageous lady correctly noted, “the people are losing the Faith.”

church razed china

A Catholic Church razed in Guantao County, China, for noncompliance with the CPA

This is the real story that is being ignored by the press, both conservative and progressivist. Both have consistently ignored the story of the Vatican’s official betrayal of the Chinese Underground Church that began with John Paul II (here and here) and increased enormously under Benedict XVI, who prepared the way for the present day Accord with his Letter to the Chinese Catholics of 2007.

The two slaps of the Pope to the Chinese lady’s hand are symbolic of the hard blow the Pontiff gave to the face of the authentic Catholic Church of China when he effectively handed it over to the communist authorities. This is the real story that should be in the headlines. Had it been, the valiant Chinese lady’s mission would have had some success.

I have before me reports of the escalating persecution of Catholics in China from the last few months. I will summarize them in my next article with the aim of helping this poor lady and the Chinese Catholics she represents have their plight revealed to a sadly indifferent West.

Continued

Posted January 6, 2020

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