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Ostpolitik Fails - Again

by Christopher A. Ferrara

This column has noted the admission of the late Cardinal Casaroli that Pope Paul VI was torn by doubt over the moral propriety of the Vatican Secretary of State’s Ostpolitik, under which communist oppression of Catholics is not denounced by the Church and diabolical communist regimes are placated with "quiet diplomacy" and "dialogue." Pope Paul wondered whether he was betraying the Gospel, but Casaroli admitted that he persuaded the Pope to stay with Ostpolitik.

Ostpolitk continues to hamstring the Church today, as seen in the Pope’s recent apology to Red China on October 24, 2001 - in a text doubtless prepared under the watchful eye of the current Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Sodano.

What are the fruits of this latest exercise of Ostpolitik? The same as those which so tormented Paul VI: vicious persecution of the Church has continued and even intensified. As Zenit news reported on November 29, 2001: "The Catholic Diocese of Feng Xiang in the central Chinese province of Shaanxi may be in danger of disappearing." Within days of the papal apology to the diabolical Jiang regime, "police arrested Bishop Lucas Li Jingfeng and his assistant, confined a dozen priests, closed a monastery and two convents, and sent seminarians, monks and nuns home." These Catholics were "part of an underground Catholic community that refuses to join the state-approved ‘patriotic’ church."

Zenit notes that according to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica , "police went to the Feng Xiang cathedral and took Bishop Lucas Li telling him to ‘pack a lot of clothes’ for a ‘long journey’ and a long political session. The 81-year-old bishop was taken with his assistant to an unknown locality. They haven´t been heard from, since Nov. 4."

November 4, it must be noted, was less than two weeks after the papal apology to China for the supposed misdeeds of members of the Church in their dealings with the Chinese people; less than two weeks after Cardinal Sodano had the Pope praise the Jiang regime for its commitment to "peace, justice and solidarity" and the "wise management of the phenomenon of globalization."

And what is most ironic is that, as Zenit notes, "until recently the bishop, 16 priests, 14 brothers, 25 nuns and about 20,000 Catholics were free to live their faith in a number of parishes and convents." So, the fruit of the papal apology is an immediate worsening of the condition of what Zenit notes is the last "underground" Catholic diocese in China, in which there was no "official" communist-controlled "church" organization to replace the true Church.

Zenit notes that "Feng Xiang Diocese is now left with two priests in poor health, aged 90 and 78. The former is at the cathedral, the latter in a small parish. A local Catholic said, ‘They are trying to eliminate our diocese. We know all about these pressures. All we want to do is to live in freedom of religion, in communion with the Pope and the universal Church.’"

In short, Ostpolitik has failed again. We must pray that the Church will return to the only correct policy toward pure evil, the policy followed by Pope Pius XII and all his predecessors: righteous opposition and forthright condemnation, as seen in Pius XII’s encyclical Ad Apostolorum Principis (1958), which denounces on nearly every page Red Chinese oppression of the Holy Catholic Church. The only Church the communists fear is the Church Militant. The Church Diplomatic of the past forty years has done nothing but legitimate the very existence of the evil regime which is now attempting to destroy the diocese of Feng Xiang.