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Betraying the Chinese Underground Church

People Asking
Dear Marian Horvat,

In this article which you wrote on the abandonment of the true Church in China, which a friend sent, was this letter from the Pope issued in 2007, or just recently?

If in 2007, do you know why we have not heard about this in Catholic Family News or The Remnant, at least that I remember, and why is it just appearing now?

This is an issue that belies credulity in view of the fact that there are Priests and Bishops currently in prison in China, and certainly is not a time, if there ever would be, to abandon these true Catholics there.

My husband and I enjoyed your talk some years ago at a CFN conference and always look forward to your CFN writings.

Thank you in advance for your reply, and God Bless You for your good work!


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Dr. Horvat responds:

Dear J.C.,

Thank you for your kind words about my articles and talks. They are an encouragement for me.

Allow me first to make a precision: Even though I have also written on this topic, the article you mentioned on the topic was written by Margaret Galitzin, who has also author several other articles on the recent Vatican-China relations. This does not prevent me from answering your question regarding the Letter to the Chinese Catholics of the Underground Church issued by Benedict XVI (the original document you may read here).

This Letter was released on June 30, 2007, just one week before the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum on July 7.

The editor of TIA asked me to write the article that was posted soon afterward on July 13, 2007 (click here) expressing shock that the Underground Church had been ordered to merge with the government-sponsored Catholic Patriotic Association.

I cannot tell you why the Catholic Traditionalist organs you mentioned did not address the topic then or later. Perhaps you should direct your inquiry directly to them.

From that first analysis on, TIA has tracked almost all the news on the developments of that policy, as you may verify reading these articles A, B, C, D, E, F.

We are witnessing a betrayal of the heroic underground Catholic Church of China by the Supreme Pontiff himself. In the 2007 Letter, he went so far as to announce that the Vatican would be willing to move its representive from Taiwan to Beijing to establish diplomatic relations with China.

This treachery has been met with almost complete silence on the part of those who should fight Communism and defend the Church from its errors. Margaret Galitzin commented on this shameful silence of the traditionalist and conservative media one month after the papal Letter was issued. She ended her article by raising a hypothesis to explain the silence:

“So, where is the protest of traditionalist Catholics to this papal gesture which can only be qualified as a betrayal? Their support has always been for the underground Chinese Catholic Church, loyal to the Papacy. Could it really be that traditionalists are so giddy over the Motu Proprio - so eager to paint this Pope as conservative or ‘converted’ - that they fear to upset any waters by speaking out against the delivering of 10 million heroic Catholics to Communism? If so, this is not a moment of triumph, but one of shame.”

This conclusion applies in general to the traditionalist media silence about the ongoing deceitfulness.

Updates from the Cardinal Kung Foundation

You or some other readers might object that TIA is exaggerating the Vatican position in the 2007 Letter to the Chinese. After all, it simply “belies credulity,” as you noted, that this could be true with no significant protest raised on the part of the faithful.

In fact, even the underground Bishops and faithful in China were hard-pressed to believe that they were being encouraged to reconcile with the Patriotic Association. TIA posted some testimonies of the anguish and dismay of the Chinese Underground Church – originally published by the Cardinal Kung Foundation – which you can read here.

Therefore, to make its position clear in response to the incredulity of the Underground Church, in June 2009, two years after the papal Letter, the Vatican issued a Commentary on that document. It “clarified” certain points and made it still more explicit than it was, indeed, encouraging the faithful to merge with the Communist Patriot Association. TIA posted a report on that Commentary here.

Consequently, more underground Bishops and priests apostatized and merged with the Patriotic Church, which you can read about here and here. There has been no reprisals from the Vatican, but rather encouragement,for such action.

In the latest Bulletin (July 2010) of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, an organization founded to support the heroic Chinese Underground Church and inform Catholics of their plight, there are several recent facts that confirm the betrayal. Joseph Kung, Foundation president and a nephew of the late Cardinal Kung, notes the impossibility of “reconciliation” of two separate entities – one, the Catholic Underground Church and the other, the Communist-controlled Patriotic Church. There can be no unity, he notes, when there are unresolved doctrinal issues of division and contention.

He also pointed out that Benedict’s 2007 Letter removed the privilege of the Underground Church to consecrate new Bishops and ordain new priests in order to continue its apostolate. “By this new Vatican policy,” he notes, “nearly all underground Bishops will die of old age within the next 10 years. By the Vatican’s own design, the official Patriotic Church will be the only surviving Church in China.”

Further, he asserts, despite the concessions made by the Vatican to the Chinese government, persecution of the Underground Catholic Church continues. Unless the Bishops and priests in detention centers or labor camps agree to “re-education” and insertion into the Patriotic Church, they continue to suffer. This is the present day situation, without any exaggeration.

Let me close quoting a recent message from an underground priest who states quite clearly and concisely the consequences of Benedict XVI’s Letter to the Chinese Catholics:

“Only one year after the China letter from the Pope, more and more underground faithful, at the urging of the Vatican, started to join the official Church. Therefore, taking full advantage of support from the Vatican, using the Vatican’s own authority, the Chinese government was able to realize, almost within one year, the policy of ‘self-propagation, self support, self-administration,’ and an independent Catholic Church that the Chinese government was not able to implement for more than 50 years, a policy continuously condemned by all the Popes since 1949. …

"Under this condition, why should the Chinese government be anxious to establish normal diplomatic relations with the Vatican? It is to the clear advantage of the Chinese government to wait for the Vatican to give in completely until all the conditions set forth by the Chinese government are met by the Vatican!” (ibid).

I could not state the case more clearly than this dismayed priest of the Underground Church, who finds himself in a situation more difficult than what he had been facing from open Communist persecution for 60 years.

Will a righteous indignation among the Catholic faithful rise up to oppose this disastrous policy of compromise and betrayal? I hope and pray it will be so, and soon. I believe that we will be called to answer before God on a matter of such grave importance.

Let us pray for the Catholic Underground Church in China, and do what we can to spread the news of the betrayal.


     Marian T. Horvat

Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted August 26, 2010

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