As the Betrayal of Chinese Catholics Proceeds,
This Is No Time for False Obedience
by Christopher A. Ferrara
February 14, 2018
No one has said it better than Helen Raleigh, an Asian-American commentator, writing inThe Federalist: “On this particular Ash Wednesday, millions of Catholic faithful in mainland China have an extra reason to pray for God’s mercy: their earthly leader, Pope Francis, has betrayed them.”
And now the betrayal is about to be confirmed. Guo Xijin, 59, one of the two legitimate Catholic bishops of the “underground” Church in China that the Vatican has asked to step down in favor of illicitly consecrated puppet bishops of the communist-created Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA), has just declared that he will obey the order to abandon his flock. As reported by the New York Times: “Speaking in his first interview since news of the deal broke last month, Bishop Guo said that if he was presented with an verifiably authentic document from the Vatican, ‘then we must obey Rome’s decision.’”
As part of this sellout of the Bride of Christ to communist gangsters, seven excommunicated CPA “bishops” will be recognized by Rome. As Raleigh notes with disgust: “Two of those seven men are alleged to have girlfriends and fathered children. Most importantly, all seven men put their loyalty to China’s communist government before their faith in God.”
But, according to Bishop Guo, “we must obey.” In truth, the Bishop must not obey. For the Pope has no power to command what is immoral and destructive of the Church, and when a Pope attempts to do so he must be resisted. As Saint Robert Bellarmine, a Doctor of the Church, teaches:
“Therefore, just as it is lawful to resist a Pontiff invading a body, so it is lawful to resist him invading souls or disturbing a state, and much more if he should endeavor to destroy the Church. I say that it is lawful to resist him, by not doing what he commands and by blocking him lest he should carry out his will… [De Controversiis: On the Roman Pontiff, trans. Ryan Grant (Mediatrix Press: 2015), Book II, Chapter 29, p. 303.]”
As Pope Benedict XVI declared in his homily of May 7, 2005: “The Pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary: the Pope’s ministry is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to his Word.”
An historical example of what Bishop Guo should do, one often cited by Father Gruner, is that of Bishop Robert Grosseteste (1175-1253), the medieval English prelate who stood up to numerous abuses of power committed by or on behalf of Pope Innocent IV, including Innocent’s demand that his youthful and utterly incompetent nephew be made a bishop. This was a comparatively minor affair compared with the betrayal now taking place in China, where Pope Francis is poised to demand, not that one of his relatives, but rather illicitly consecrated, communist-controlled puppets be installed as bishops in place of legitimate successors of the Apostles. But Grosseteste’s principled resistance is nonetheless illustrative of the just limits of papal power.
As the Catholic Encyclopedia rightly observes, Bishop Grosseteste “never denied the pope’s authority as Vicar of Christ and Head of the Church. What he did maintain was that the power of the Holy See was ‘for edification and not for destruction’ [2 Cor. 10:8], that the commands of the pope could never transgress the limits laid down by the law of God, and that it was his duty, as bishop, to resist an order that was ‘for manifest destruction’. In such a case ‘out of filial reverence and obedience I disobey, resist, and rebel.’”
What Francis is apparently about to order in China is precisely the “manifest destruction” of the visible Church in that nation and, most ironically, a manifest destruction of his own legitimate power over the Church there. As Raleigh puts it:
“Pope Francis seems to have no problem subordinating his authority to a repressive communist government…. It’s clear that Pope Francis is no Pope John Paul II. While Pope John Paul II joined Margaret Thatcher and President Reagan to defeat Communism, Pope Francis is willing to capitulate to oppressive authoritarian regimes like Cuba and China in the name of ‘openness.’ By doing so, he only lends legitimacy and extends a lifeline to those regimes while failing to offer relief to the people oppressed under those regimes. How can a Catholic church under the leadership of Pope Francis still claim it’s the champion of the oppressed?”
This is no time for false obedience. True obedience to the Pope, indeed the defense of his very office against encroachment by worldly powers, demands that the legitimate Catholic bishops of China just say ‘NO’ to the Vatican’s bargain with the devil.
The plague of false obedience to unjust commands — or the false appearance of commands, such as the imaginary “banning” of the traditional Latin Mass by Paul VI — has led to the devastation of the Church by one ruinous novelty after another over the past fifty years. Now it is likely that the dictate “we must obey” — no matter what — will prevail in China as well, thus bringing us closer to the divine chastisement that increasingly seems to be the only way this madness will be brought to an end.