Did you hear the one about the Vatican and the Chinese government?

One of the worst things about the mainstream media's habit of treating American politics as a high school popularity contest is that it obscures actual news with important consequences.  A story that has received a lot of play in the foreign media and almost none in the American media is that the Vatican is renewing a deal with China that gives the Chinese government a say in the appointment of Catholic bishops.  The Vatican did this despite strong opposition from the U.S. government.  A craven Pope Francis then delivered a snub to the Trump administration when he refused to meet with Secretary Mike Pompeo.

The first thing to get out of the way is the fact that, yes, Pope Francis is leftist in his orientation.  Francis is a product of the communist "liberation theology" movement that swept Latin American Catholicism in the 1950s and 1960s.  Many of his values owe more to Marx and the modern Progressive movement than they do to the Bible and the values of the Catholic faith.

Therefore, it should not be a surprise that, in 2018, Pope Francis entered into a deal with the Chinese government regarding the status of the Catholic faith in that communist country.  You may not have known this, but China has about 12 million professed Catholics.  Some of them "worship" at a state-sponsored "Catholic church," while others worship in an underground Catholic church loyal to the Vatican.  The members of this second church have often been persecuted for their loyalty to the pope.

Pope Francis has decided that the way to break through to the Chinese Catholics is to appease the communist government.  Two years ago, the Vatican entered into a secret agreement with the government.  The details are hazy, but what's known is that the agreement gave both the Vatican and the communist government a say in appointing bishops to the state-sponsored "Catholic" church.

According to Al Jazeera, which it galls me to say is a more honest broker of the news than our American media:

Francis immediately recognised eight Chinese bishops who had been appointed by Beijing without his approval.

Since then, two new bishops have been appointed in China, with a nod from the head of the world's 1.3 billion Catholics.

And in a historic step earlier this year, Chinese and Vatican foreign affairs ministers met publicly at an international event for the first time in 70 years.

During the same two years, China has escalated its persecution of Catholics and other religious people within its borders.  In an article published in First Things, secretary of state Mike Pompeo detailed just some of the persecution the government is visiting on religious people.  After acknowledging the well known atrocities against Uighur Muslims, he says:

Two years on, it's clear that the Sino-Vatican agreement has not shielded Catholics from the Party's depredations, to say nothing of the Party's horrific treatment of Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong devotees, and other religious believers. The State Department's 2019 annual report on religious freedom provides an illustrative example in the story of Father Paul Zhang Guangjun, who was beaten and "disappeared" for refusing to join the CCP-run Patriotic Catholic Association. Sadly, his experience is not unique. Communist authorities continue to shutter churches, spy on and harass the faithful, and insist that the Party is the ultimate authority in religious affairs. 

Not content with harassing the faithful, the Chinese government has been rewriting Christianity's most sacred text, the New Testament.  In the original version, Jesus shamed those who would stone an adulteress and then told her he would not condemn her; instead, she should sin no more.  In the Chinese version, when Jesus was alone with the adulteress, he stoned her to death, saying, "I am also a sinner.  But if the law could only be enforced by men without blemish, the law would be dead."

Secretary Pompeo has been trying to meet with the pope to discuss the Vatican's decision to renew an agreement that gives the papacy's imprimatur to the Chinese government's abuses.  Francis, though, is hiding:

Pope Francis has reportedly refused to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his visit to Rome over a dispute between the Vatican and China.

[snip]

According to reports, Pope Francis cited the looming United States presidential election as the reason to not meet with Mr Pompeo. But the Trump administration's criticism over the deal between the Vatican and China could likely be a factor in the decision.

One more thing: The above quotation comes from an MSN news site.  However, it's not an MSN story.  Instead, it comes from England's Independent.

The American media, which are obsessed with Amy Coney Barrett's Catholicism, have ignored a story that affects 12 million Chinese Catholics and reflects very poorly on the man who is the spiritual head of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.  The media are a disgrace, and I'm not impressed with the pope, either.

Image: Pope Francis by Annett_Klingner at Pixabay (edited in Pixlr).