Vatican bishop: China is model of Catholic social teaching

What happened?

A Vatican official gushed over China’s virtues. Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, said: “Right now, those who are best implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese.” He told Vatican Insider after a short visit to the country: “You do not have shantytowns, young people do not take drugs. [There is a] positive national conscience.” He added that China also showed “moral leadership” on climate change.

What the media are saying

Ai Jun, writing for Global Times, China’s state tabloid, said Bishop Sánchez might make “some Western media uncomfortable” but that he was right. The “overwhelming majority of Catholics in China have full access to freedom of religion,” Jun wrote, and it was “irresponsible” that some Catholics were lobbying against a deal between Beijing and the Holy See.

But Fr Bernardo Cervellera, editor of AsiaNews, said the bishop’s comments made a “laughing stock of the Church”. The bishop described a “wonderland” that did not exist, he said. China’s prisons are full of drug dealers, many of whom await execution. The government was “cleansing” poor areas outside big cities, destroying buildings and removing inhabitants.

George Weigel, writing at the National Review, pointed to compulsory abortions, the killing of political prisoners, forced organ harvesting and religious persecution. “To try to square them with the social doctrine of the Catholic Church,” he wrote, “requires something approaching a psychotic detachment from reality.” The bishop’s remarks “inevitably implicate the Pope and cast doubt … on the integrity of the Holy See.” Weigel noted that Bishop Sánchez had turned 75, the normal retirement age for bishops, and suggested his resignation be accepted as soon as possible.

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