Pope Francis' deal with China is a disaster

If approved, it would be an unmitigated catastrophe

Pope Francis is itching to make things better with China, but at what cost?
(Image credit: Photo Illustration by Jackie Friedman | Images courtesy iStock, REUTERS/Andrew Medichini/pool)

The Vatican and China have reached a deal that would be a major step towards normalizing relations between the Catholic Church and the world's largest formally atheist regime, The Wall Street Journal reports. All that's needed for the deal to go through is the final nod from Pope Francis and President Xi Jinping. To call this a bombshell would be an understatement.

In this deal, the Catholic Church would recognize eight bishops who have been ordained by the Chinese government without the Vatican's permission. China's regime has set up a state-run and state-sponsored "Catholic Church" that competes with the underground Church, recognized by the Vatican. Although in practice the boundaries between these two bodies tend to blur, in reality they are very distinct. After all, Catholicism isn't Catholicism without obedience to the pope. The move would be a major coup for Pope Francis, who has made no secret of his conciliatory attitude toward China and eagerness to reach some sort of live-and-let-live settlement with China's still-formally-communist regime. This comes at a time when Christianity is growing by leaps and bounds in China and, under Xi Jinping, the country's authoritarian government is further cracking down on liberal expression and dissent.

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Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry is a writer and fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. His writing has appeared at Forbes, The Atlantic, First Things, Commentary Magazine, The Daily Beast, The Federalist, Quartz, and other places. He lives in Paris with his beloved wife and daughter.