Rod Dreher has not been Catholic for a decade, but like so many ex-Catholics, he continues to hang around the Church and like many ex-Catholics, he seems to have a total expertise in everything about the Church at the drop of a hat, especially when attacking it. It’s kind of like when there is some news report about some aspect of legal or scientific arcana and within minutes, people are online with total competence in Argentinian import/export law or are a dab hand at everything you need to know about climate science or relativity. It astonishes me how quickly people instantly master such matters and are totally qualified to hold forth on why Pope Francis is an absolute moron and traitor to the faith should he say or do something about Argentinian politics or write Laudato Si.
At any rate, last week was the story of Rome and the Church in China. I myself know nothing about the Church in China and I’m inclined to think most Combox-Americans sounding off about the Church in China don’t really know much either. The actual news article says the situation is complicated. But since American conservatives–including those who abandoned the Church a decade ago–have appointed themselves the defenders of all that is holy from traitorous Pope Francis, that did not stop Rod Dreher from excoriating him. The situation is simple: Francis is terrible and we should all hate him for at least 15 minutes Because China. As one of my readers magisterially declared, citing Dreher’s piece as her encyclical:
[Francis] has a great deal for which to apologize. How is this for a not-quite-unforgiveable – nothing is that – but it’s getting there. story: http://www.asianews.it/news… . According to Rod Dreher of The American Conservative, asianews is an official Vatican news agency.
Pope Francis is not a good pope. The Church will survive; we are promised that she will; but this is a major betrayal, not to be excused on the grounds that it will ‘protect’ Catholics, because it’s much more likely to discourage them. The unchanging belief in this Pope shared by most people here astounds me.
Yes. Betrayal! Nearly unforgiveable betrayal! Francis is the *worst*. Combox-American conservatives say so–practically from the moment he was elected–and since when have they ever been wrong in their encyclopedic knowledge of the Church in China, or unjust war, or torture, or refugees, or capital punishment, or building a wall, or a host of other issues?
Still and all, I don’t know anything about the Church in China and I’m highly skeptical that the people who already are filled with loathing for Francis and looking for any excuse to call him a “traitor” know anything either. So I wrote a reader who actually does have massive first hand experience with the Church in China–both patriotic and underground–and asked them what they made of Dreher’s piece and Rome’s actions. This is their reply:
This is such a horribly slanted article!it was actually Pope Benedict XVI who wrote an open letter to China’s Catholics in 2008 encouraging those from the underground church to join the official church. His reasoning being that the Church in China stands strongest when it is unified, not split apart. After the initial shock from the pope’s letter died down, many from the underground church were willing to accept this. In fact, there were reports many Protestant church leaders who expressed they wished that their extremely splintered church in China could have the same opportunity for unification that the Catholics have set before them right now in China. The historic 2008 letter from Pope Benedict XVI was also a sign that the Vatican recognizes that the state registered church has come along way in 30 years in terms of formation, teaching, and service to the spiritual needs of the people of God. Priests, sisters and seminarians have the opportunity to study abroad and receive formation, a growing number of books on catechesis and the Christian life are available in translation, outreach activities are growing, and tens of thousands of Chinese are baptized into the Church each year. The state run church is growing, the teachings are orthodox, the Sacraments are valid, parishioners are growing by leaps and bounds. Yes, there is still censorship, oppression, politicking, and persecution that exists in various forms. But it is a Church whose people and clerics are very much heart and spirit members of the universal Catholic Church, even though not on paper or in an official sense.
They pray for Pope Francis at every Mass and many of the pope’s written works are available in translation (through an official Chinese Catholic publishing house), his speeches and homilies often available online in Chinese within days if not hours for the Chinese faithful to read. I’ve even been to some state registered churches that proudly display their official papal blessings for all to see. This is not a dissident church, but one that is very much alive in seeking after Jesus and His Truth.
But yeah, the ppl who wrote that article don’t know anything really about the Church in China and are still treating it like the 1980s. This is just another excuse to try to blast Pope Francis. The irony is that it was Pope B16 who actually wrote the 2008 letter that their unjustified moral outrage should extend to.
This is not a black and white thing. The situation in China is a very complex matter with well balanced diplomatic efforts happening behind the scenes. Nothing here is being done lightly by either the Vatican or Beijing.
And the Vatican does report persecutions and abuses by China. You can read it yourself. It’s online.
Pope Francis himself knows the wisdom of refraining from calling out China too harshly in order to create a healthy dialogue. He knows who he’s dealing with. And he stands his ground behind the Chinese people. But if he gets into a Twitter storm with Beijing, then he knows China will only crack down harder on the Church, because we’ve seen it happen in the past under lesser circumstances.
So these armchair pundits have no idea what they’re talking about.
I’m really pissed about that article. It is so one-sided and misleading.
If you want to look up a good moderate who really understood China well and worked hard for improved relations to help the Church in China, look up Vincent Lebbe. Several of my trusted friends who have served the Church in China for many years are greatly inspired by his great and humble example.
I think I will trust somebody with a bunch of actual experience over the sudden expertise of Combox-Americans.