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"Communism is Dead" Update

Seven Priests Arrested in China

by Christopher A. Ferrara

More than twenty years after the non-existent "consecration of Russia" in 1984, neo-Stalinism is emerging in Russia while the Red Communist regime in China continues its brutal suppression of the "underground" Catholic Church, which fights for survival while the Chinese Patriotic Association, created by Mao Tse Tung to replace the true Church – the Roman Catholic Church – in China, occupies once-Catholic dioceses and parishes, structures and positions.

On April 28, 2005 AsiaNews reported that, according to the Kung Foundation, "Seven priests of the underground Church were arrested last April 27 in the village of Wuqiu, near the city of Jinzhou (Hebei). The priests, whose age range from 30 to 50 years, had gathered for a spiritual retreat together with Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo, unofficial bishop of Zhengding." By "unofficial" bishop, the communist regime in Beijing means a true Catholic bishop not hand picked by the communist government.

The arrested priests were on a religious retreat at the time of their arrest. The AsiaNews story further reports that "the arrests were made by the Security Bureau and Religious Affairs Bureau of Shijiazhuang at 5:30 p.m., with dozens of policemen and 9 police cars surrounding the retreat site." The leader of the retreat, Msgr. Jia Zhiguo, "had just been released from a period of round-the-clock surveillance, from the time of John Paul II’s death to Benedict XVI’s election, March 20 to April 25. Security forces and the Religious Affairs Bureau had warned Msgr. Jia to refrain from all religious activity."

The story provides a succinct summation of the Beijing regime’s policy of forcible suppression of the Roman Catholic religion: "The government in China allows religious activity only in places and with people registered and monitored by the state and the Patriotic Association. Any religious activity outside of state control is considered unlawful and a threat to public order. Control by the Patriotic Association aims at fostering the birth of a national church, independent of relations with the Pope."

Since 1988 we have heard a great deal about the purported "schism" of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), whose head, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, consecrated four bishops in that year without the allegedly technically required prior papal approval  —  although John Paul II had already agreed to the consecration of one bishop on a date to be determined. Lefebvre acted according to what he believed was permissible under Church law in view of the necessity of preserving Roman Catholic tradition in a time of crisis in the Church, and he did so with an express and firm attachment to the Holy See.

But why, on the other hand, have we heard nothing about the undeniable schism of the Patriotic Association  —  formed by communists, controlled by communists, and designed precisely for the express purpose of creating a "Catholic" church independent of the Pope?

This curious double standard is one of the innumerable issues Pope Benedict XVI will have to address during what increasingly appears to be a great apostasy in the Church. As Cardinal Ratzinger himself declared in an address before he became Pope Benedict, concerning negotiations to "regularize" the SSPX: "We must do everything possible to return to these brothers their lost confidence." Given the state of the Church after 40 years of unrelenting novelty, that will be no easy task. One hopes and prays the Pope will begin that task by revisiting, and heeding at last, the Message of Fatima.