On Saturday, 7 April 2018, two important events took place which seemed, to a superficial observer, to be utterly unrelated:
In Rome, people gathered and discussed the topic “Catholic Church, where are you going?” Present were prominent prelates such as Cardinal Raymond Burke, Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, and Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider. It was about the negative effects of the controversial passages in the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia of Pope Francis. The German-American journalist Maike Hickson reported on this event here and here.
In Bonn, the former capital city of the Federal Republic of Germany, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun received the “Stephanus-Prize for Persecuted Christians” (“Stephanus-Preis für verfolgte Christen”). On this occasion, he spoke in detail about the persecution of Christians by the Communist regime of the People’s Republic of China, and about the attempts of the Vatican to “get along” with the Chinese Communist leaders.
Even though these two events are about two different topics, they did have numerous “common denominators.” In both events, it was about the Catholic Church’s acceptance of a revolution: in Rome, it was about the acceptance – and really even more, about an alliance of a part of the Catholic clergy with the sexual revolution. In Bonn, it was about the acceptance of, or the alliance with, a part of the Catholic clergy of the Communist revolution, in the form of the current Communist regime of the People’s Republic of China.
There exists an additional common denominator: in both maneuvers (not to speak about a betrayal of Catholic principles), the decisive personality is the current Cardinal Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
Concerning the sexual revolution, Cardinal Parolin preaches the slogan of a “moral paradigm shift in morality.” What he means with it is essentially the introduction of “situation ethics” in order to legitimize “irregular life situations” such as those of the “remarried” divorcees. In Germany, it is, of all people, Cardinal Reinhard Marx – the President of the German Bishops’ Conference – who is in the process of introducing this situation ethics in the form of “case-by-case examinations” on the level of the parishes. The lifestyles propagated by the sexual revolution thus receive a Catholic seal of approval.
But the sustained marching-through of progressivism does not limit itself to an ultra-liberal interpretation of Amoris Laetitia.
For the Communist countries, Cardinal Parolin has figured out something special, namely the revival of the leftist Ostpolitik of the 1960s and 1970s, which consisted of coming to an arrangement with the Communist dictatorships. The Catholic Church was to give up criticism of Communism; as a reward, she would receive freedoms in the administration of the Sacraments. Thus, she received the golden cage, as it were, as long as she did not criticize the Communists and their atheistic doctrines.
Here, too, it was about an acceptance and an alliance with a revolution, in this case with the Communist revolution.
In the case of China, the Cardinal Secretary of State Parolin seems to have said to himself: the Chinese Catholics who suffer already for so long under persecution should first accept those bishops who have now been appointed by the (Communist) state, and then they may exercise their religion in peace.
A precondition for this policy is to get rid of the bishops of the so-called Underground Church. That would have been easy, had not Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun decided to climb onto the barricades. Since the beginning of the year, he does not talk about anything else than the Cardinal Secretary of State’s betrayal of the Catholics of the Underground Church.
Most recently, he did this on a trip to Germany, in order to receive the “Stephanus Prize for Persecuted Christians.” On this occasion, he repeated untiringly: the Vatican’s Secretariat of State – that is to say, Cardinal Pietro Parolin – wants to betray the legitimate Underground Church of China to the Communists, even though she has been persecuted by them for decades.
The power of the Church in such moments reveals itself in personalities like Cardinal Zen. For, he says: such an agreement with the Communists would be a betrayal and a shame; a surrender of the Church’s freedom to the Communist rulers. What Parolin is essentially doing is to hand over the loyal Catholics to the Communist rulers. Thus, a surrender to a worldly power.
Is this the purported paradigm of progressivism? Yes, because progressivism – in the West and the East – promotes nothing else than a capitulation toward the revolutionary Zeitgeist.
What are the weapons which Cardinal Zen uses against this progressivist attack?
To speak the truth. The truth about red-Chinese Communism. The truth about the persecution of the Catholic Church. The truth about the planned betrayal of legitimate Chinese Catholicism to red-Chinese Communism.
It is exactly this freedom of the word that will kill progressivism: in order to gain doubtful advantages, the Catholics of China are supposedly to give up rather than to insist upon their rightful freedom to speak the truth.
Cardinal Zen responds to this and says: No! Not with me! I will not be silent!
Let us follow his example – in the West as in the East – and let us bear witness that the unchangeable Catholic Faith must be proclaimed freely, always and everywhere. Because only in this way, we fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ: “Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.”
Mathias von Gersdorff was born in Santiago de Chile in 1964. He studied economics in Heidelberg and Bonn and graduated 1989. He worked several years as a banker in London and Frankfurt/Main. From 1990 he became an activist in Germany’s Pro-Life movement (Aktion SOS Leben) and in the German Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property – TFP. Since 1993 he coordinated the activities of the campaign “Kinder in Gefahr” against pornography, blasphemy, and violence in the media. During the government of Gerhard Schröder he organized many campaigns against “homosexual marriage”.
Mathias v. Gersdorff is the author of many books about family and media issues. He also writes regularly for many newsletters and is the editor of several publications. He is the president of the German Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property – TFP.