A faithful bishop has been kidnapped in China following the Pope Francis approved Vatican-China deal, which gave the Chinese communist government a prominent role in the selection of bishops while encouraging the underground Catholic church to join the state-sanctioned Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA).
For the fifth time since being appointed bishop in 2016, Pietro Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou has been kidnapped by police for interrogation and indoctrination. He will now be "coerced to submit to the religious policy of China, which requires registration with the government and membership of the Patriotic Association (PA)," according to Asia News, which first broke the story.
LifeSiteNews reports that the Chinese government's persecution of the Catholic Church has remained in "full effect" since the Vatican signed the deal that many faithful Catholics in China denounced as a betrayal.
Despite the agreement which the Vatican has hailed as a positive step forward for the Catholic Church in China, reports of the destruction of church buildings continue and clergy who have resisted joining the government-run PA have mysteriously disappeared and undergone similar periods of detention for indoctrination. The deal reportedly allows the communist government, rather than the Catholic Church, to select bishops.
Children under 18 years of age continue to be barred from entering churches for religious services.
“After the agreement between China and the Vatican on the appointment of bishops, the PA has stepped up controls and the persecution of underground communities,” according to the Asia News report.
AP reports that Chinese authorities have elected to remain silent regarding the details of Zhumin's abduction. He is expected to remain in detention for 15 days, much shorter than his last detention, which lasted for seven months.
As to why the Vatican under Pope Francis signed the deal with China despite the clear show of bad faith from government officials, Cardinal Zen asserted that the Holy Father has a "natural sympathy for communists" that blinded him to the situation's reality. Writing in The New York Times, Zen said, "The Pope Doesn’t Understand China" and that he capitulates to the oppressive government due to a "natural sympathy" for communists because he views them as a persecuted class.
"Francis may have natural sympathy for Communists because for him, they are the persecuted," Zen writes. "He doesn’t know them as the persecutors they become once in power, like the Communists in China."
Indeed, the fix was in China's favor from the very outset. Earlier this year, when China and the Vatican began entering negotiations, Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo of Argentina (where Pope Francis hails from) visited the country and gleefully declared the oppressive regime a bright, shining example of the Catholic social doctrine.
"You do not have shantytowns," Sorondo 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."
Defenders of the deal say it will bridge a gap between the underground Church and the communist Church, but detractors say it will likely demoralize the faithful while emboldening the government to suppress authentic faith. Zen agrees with the latter and believes the deal is a "major step toward the annihilation of the real Church in China."
"The Vatican’s deal, struck in the name of unifying the Church in China, means the annihilation of the real Church in China," he says, adding that he would "draw the Holy Father on his knees offering the keys of the kingdom of heaven to President Xi Jinping and saying, ‘Please recognize me as the pope.’"