Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has written an impassioned letter to Cardinal Joseph Zen, strongly criticizing the Vatican for its approach to China and saying it had “done everything and more to deliver the Chinese Martyr Church into the hands of the Enemy.”
Referring in particular to what he called “the treacherous and wicked” secret agreement signed by Beijing and the Holy See in 2018 on the appointment of bishops in China, the former apostolic nuncio to the United States said he shared in prayer Cardinal Zen’s suffering.
“Your heartfelt appeals, dear Brother in Christ, have systematically been unheeded and even mocked in a hypocritical and perverse way,” he wrote (see full text below). He also criticized the Vatican’s silence in the face of “the persecutory fury that has gained unprecedented strength” in China.
Archbishop Viganò wrote the letter on Saturday in response to a Feb. 26 letter from Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re in which the cardinal harshly criticized Cardinal Zen as an obstacle for the Church in China.
Addressed to cardinals and published by La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, Cardinal Re, who was elected Dean of the College of Cardinals in January, made a series of questionable claims in the letter, including that this pontificate’s approach to China is in continuity with the pontificates of Benedict XVI and St. John Paul II
He also claimed to have documentation showing that Benedict “had approved the draft” of the 2018 Agreement.
Archbishop Viganò said he was “deeply saddened and indignant” about the letter, calling it “ignominious and shameful” and offering his “affection, prayer and fraternal solidarity.”
Contesting the claim of continuity with previous pontificates, the former nuncio said “we all know” of Benedict’s “strenuous resistance and repeated disapproval of the conditions imposed by a persecutory and bloody regime.”
He said that in the Vatican, “lying has been set into the system, truth has been totally overturned, and the most perverse deception is shamelessly practiced even by the most unexpected figures” who, he believes, have become “accomplices of the Adversary.”
After listing how the Vatican has in recent years delivered the Chinese Martyr Church “into the hands of the Enemy,” Archbishop Viganò praised Cardinal Zen for his example in defending the Church in the face of “heresy and apostasy” at the highest levels of the hierarchy.
Lord Patten Weighs In
Archbishop Vigano’s letter comes as criticism continues to mount over the Vatican’s policy towards China, with the most recent reproach coming from the last Governor of Hong Kong, Lord Patten of Barnes.
Known as an influential, liberal British Catholic who negotiated extensively with the Chinese government before handing over the former British colony to China in 1999, Lord Patten said he thinks the Vatican has “got it badly wrong about China” in its efforts at rapprochement with the administration of President Xi Jingping, according to a Feb. 28 article in The Tablet.
Although he said he was in favour of the Vatican doing what it could to help the lives of Chinese Catholics, Lord Patten said he thought it was “an extraordinary time to be doing this with an administration in China which has gone back on human rights — which is making things tougher on human rights.
“I find myself sympathising hugely with Cardinal Zen on this and with others,” he said, adding he “admired those in Rome who have been trying for decades to improve relations between the Vatican and China.”
Full Text of Archbishop Viganò’s Feb. 29 Letter to Cardinal Zen
This is Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America.
I have followed deeply — sharing in prayer your suffering — your many heartfelt appeals to Pope Bergoglio concerning the tragic situation of the Martyr Church in China, which he himself has culpably aggravated through the treacherous and wicked secret Agreement signed by Holy See with the Chinese Communist Government.
Your heartfelt appeals, dear Brother in Christ, have systematically been unheeded and even mocked in a hypocritical and perverse way. As for Cardinal Parolin, he has acted as a mere reckless executor of an evil order from above.
I read this morning the ignominious and shameful letter that Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re has addressed to all the cardinals against you. I am deeply saddened and indignant, and I wish to express to you all my affection, prayer and fraternal solidarity in the episcopate.
You are a courageous Confessor of the Faith and you have all my esteem and veneration!
Unfortunately, in the Vatican lying has been set into the system, truth has been totally overturned, and the most perverse deception is shamelessly practiced even by the most unexpected figures, who have now given themselves over to acting as accomplices of the Adversary. They have even gone so far as to say that “Pope Benedict XVI had approved the draft Agreement” signed in 2018, when instead we all know of his strenuous resistance and repeated disapproval of the conditions imposed by a persecutory and bloody regime.
The Vatican has done everything and more to deliver the Chinese Martyr Church into the hands of the Enemy: it did so by signing the Secret Pact; it did so by legitimizing excommunicated “bishops” who are agents of the regime; it did so by the deposition of legitimate bishops; it did so by forcing faithful priests to register with a church that has succumbed to the Communist dictatorship; it does so on a daily basis by keeping silent about the persecutory fury that has gained unprecedented strength, precisely since the signing of that unfortunate Agreement. It is now doing so with this ignoble letter to all the cardinals, which is aimed at accusing you, denigrating you, and isolating you.
Our Lord assures us that nothing and no one will ever be able to snatch from His hands those who resist the infernal enemy and his acolytes, conquering them “by the Blood of the Lamb” and by the testimony of their martyrdom (cf. Rev. 12:11).
Your example, dear Cardinal, and the very high price you are paying to defend the Cause of God and His Church, gives us a salutary jolt, it rips us from the inertia and habituation with which we are passively witnessing the surrender of the Catholic Church, at its highest levels and in its hierarchy, to heresy and apostasy, by following the Prince of this world, who is a liar and murderer from the beginning (cf. Jn 8:44).
Parce, Domine, parce populo tuo,
quem redemisti, Christe, sanguine tuo,
ne in aeternum irascaris nobis.
+ Carlo Maria Viganò
Titular Archbishop of Ulpiana