When discussing the Holy See’s diplomacy with China, Pope Francis said that “diplomacy is the art of the possible and of doing things to make the possible become a reality.”
Shea responded: “It’s difficult to see how the Pope can possibly succeed in the art of diplomacy when dealing with a force as evil as the CCP.”
“I think the Vatican should be energetically bolstering the underground church and speaking up for human rights, not making accommodations with the CCP and self-censoring on important moral issues,” she said.
Recent restrictions on religious groups in China
New Chinese government measures, which came into effect on June 1, also place the financial management of places of worship and religious donations under the control of the United Front Work Department.
The United Front has the task of ensuring that groups outside of the CCP, such as Xinjiang Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, Hong Kong democracy activists, and the Catholic Patriotic Association, are following the party line. Xi Jinping has called the United Front Work Department one of his "magic weapons," used to co-opt and control.
Asia News reported that under the new measures religious groups’ finances and operations will be monitored by the government.
Catholic priests who minister in China legally are required to sign a paper in which they promise to support the Communist Party in China. They are only allowed to minister in recognized places of worship in which minors under the age of 18 are not allowed to enter.
Since March 2022 religious groups in China have been barred from conducting any religious activities online without first applying and receiving approval from the provincial Department of Religious Affairs, according to Asia News. Homilies and livestream Masses can only be posted online after obtaining a special license.
European Parliament resolution
Hong Kong’s Cardinal Joseph Zen, a vocal critic of the Vatican-China deal, will face trial in September along with four other prominent democracy advocates.
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The European Parliament is set to discuss Zen’s arrest in regard to human rights and rule of law on July 7. The resolution calls for the Hong Kong government to drop all charges against the retired bishop of Hong Kong.
The resolution also “calls on the Vatican to strengthen its diplomatic efforts and its leverage on Chinese authorities to demand Cardinal Zen’s unconditional release and the end of persecution and human rights violations in China.”