The Pope is coming under attack for his recent remarks on China:
Close watchers of the Holy See were taken by surprise by the content of an interview with the Asia Times in which the Argentinian pontiff said the world need not fear China’s growing power and avoided any mention of human rights or the restrictions on Catholics and other Christians’ freedom of worship in the world’s most populous nation.
Writing on his blog for Italian weekly L’Espresso, Magister lamented Francis’s “total silence” on questions of religion and freedom and what he interpreted as an “unrestrained absolution” of the Chinese communist regime’s historical record.
The Argentinian pope made only the lightest of allusions to China’s troubled recent history, saying a people sometimes “makes a mistake and goes backwards a little, or takes the wrong path and has to retrace its steps to follow the right way.”
Go here to read the rest. Popes have a difficult task when dealing with dictatorial states with large numbers of Catholics. The Catholics are in effect hostages. With that in mind one can understand that a Pope may not speak as bluntly as he might wish to. However, Pope Francis has a history of speaking quite mildly to governments of the left, while giving the back of the papal hand to governments with free markets and freely elected governments. Is the stance of the Pope Realpolitik or a manifestation of a “no enemies on the left” world view, even when the leftists are the leadership of China, who manage to combine some of the ugliest features of Communism and crony Capitalism? Compare and contrast with this letter to Chinese Catholics from Pope Benedict in 2007:
Likewise, therefore, the Catholic Church which is in China does not have a mission to change the structure or administration of the State; rather, her mission is to proclaim Christ to men and women, as the Saviour of the world, basing herself – in carrying out her proper apostolate – on the power of God. As I recalled in my Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, “The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply” .
In the light of these unrenounceable principles, the solution to existing problems cannot be pursued via an ongoing conflict with the legitimate civil authorities; at the same time, though, compliance with those authorities is not acceptable when they interfere unduly in matters regarding the faith and discipline of the Church. The civil authorities are well aware that the Church in her teaching invites the faithful to be good citizens, respectful and active contributors to the common good in their country, but it is likewise clear that she asks the State to guarantee to those same Catholic citizens the full exercise of their faith, with respect for authentic religious freedom.