Pope Leo XIII declared in his encyclical Rerum Novarum that "no one can be at the same time a sincere Catholic and a true socialist." Since the Pope's declaration in 1891, the Catholic Church has consistently and emphatically denounced both socialism and communism as evil economic ideologies that deprive individuals of private property and the just fruits of their labor.
That clear teaching appears to have been lost on Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo of Argentina (where Pope Francis hails from), who, upon returning from his trip to the People's Republic of China, declared the country a bright, shining example of the Catholic social doctrine.
“Those who best realize the social doctrine of the Church at this time are the Chinese,” Sorondo told the Italian newspaper, La Stampa, on Friday. “They seek the common good, subordinating all things to the general good.”
As noted by Steven Mosher of Stream, Sorondo's statements echo that Lincoln Steffens’ assessment of the Soviet Union when he said: “I’ve seen the future, and it works!”
Sorondo, who serves as the Chancellor for both the Pontifical Academy of Science and the Pontifical Academy of Social Science, either willingly pulled wool over his eyes while visiting China or didn't bother to remove the blinders his hosts placed on him. Clearly, between the Archbishop's limousine ride from the airport to his five-star hotel, the Chinese government made sure he saw "an extraordinary China" free of any "shantytowns."
“You do not have shantytowns," he gleefully stated. "You do not have drugs, young people do not have drugs. There is a positive national consciousness. They want to show that they have changed, they already accept private property.”
China's National Narcotics Control Commission says otherwise: “China’s drug problem is severe and growing, with sharp rises in the abuse and production of synthetic drugs.”
As for China's newfound appreciation for private property, the destruction of Catholic and other Christian churches in China indicates a much different attitude.
Sorondo even praised China, whose barbaric one-child policy led to the slaughter of 400 million innocents due to forced abortion, for “defending the dignity of the person” in their environmental consciousness and limiting CO2 emissions to combat Global Warming. Compared to America, Sorondo says China cares for human dignity far more.
“The economy [in China] does not dominate politics, as it does in the United States," he said. "How is it possible that the petroleum multinationals control Trump, when we know that this is bad for the earth.”
The Archbishop making wild claims is nothing new. Once, he even said that Pope Francis' views on climate change were as authoritative as the Church’s condemnation of abortion. As Father Joseph Fessio, SJ, who studied theology under Joseph Ratzinger pointed out, Sorondo's opinion was “worse than wrong," but also "an embarrassment to the Church.”
Regarding China's religious freedom, the U.S. State Department recently found the Chinese government “physically abused, detained, arrested, tortured, sentenced to prison, or harassed adherents of both registered and unregistered religious groups for activities related to their religious beliefs and practices.”