Saturday, March 10, 2018

Accommodation. . .

You made your bed.  Now you must sleep in it. . . 

Everyone knows of the desire for Pope Francis to make accommodation with the divorced, the divorced and remarried, the GLBTQ folks, and, perhaps, those who find the prohibition on contraception and the ban on abortion in all cases too difficult.  We have heard his minions suggest that morality must distinguish between absolute good and what can reasonably be accomplished, especially for those whose lifestyles are sinful.  We have heard about the distinction between doctrinal change and pastoral change which retains doctrine in theory but effectively replaces it with practices that conflict with what is confessed.  We have seen in Francis not merely a desire to engage the culture but to accommodate the culture in ways that make more than Roman Catholics nervous. Now it seems Francis is seeking an accommodation with China and in doing so has thrown overboard the structure of the Roman Catholic Church and several of its bishops. 

Though it is often forgotten (conveniently) or ignored, the government of China strictly regulates Christianity.  The Protestants are restricted to the government-controlled “Three Self Patriotic Movement.”  Catholics are controlled by restricting them to the  Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association  --  the only form of Catholicism officially tolerated in China.  This structure lives under the control of the Communist government and has appointed alternative bishops who are not recognized by Rome.  This group functions like a pre-Vatican II form of Roman Catholicism, refusing to acknowledge or recognize any Roman Catholic teachings formulated after 1949 (the year the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association was formed).  This means that such things as the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and the theological and liturgical decisions of Second Vatican Council are not recognized.  It should be said, however, that this group does have a vernacular mass.

Many of China’s Christians have rejected this government control.  In fact, it is said that some 10 million Catholics flout this government control, holding to Roman Catholic teaching after 1949 and worshiping underground, that is, secretly in a church whose bishops have been appointed by the Pope but who also function secretly.  They have suffered severe persecution and some of these have endured long imprisonments for disregarding governmental regulation of the church.  These Roman Catholics, along with their Protestant counterparts who refuse such governmental controls, have grown exponentially even in this time of persecution from the government of China.

It appears that Francis has chosen sides and has requested the resignation of two of the underground bishops -- to be replaced by two bishops with Communist government approval.  It has been reported that one of those government approved bishops was previously excommunicated by Rome!!  As if that were not enough, Francis is bowing before the government again by recognizing the seven current bishops of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association appointed by the Chinese government without papal approval.

So Francis has thrown his own bishops under the bus and given the Chinese government everything in exchange -- all for the prospect of improving relations.  As if that were not bad enough, Francis has also thrown under the bus all those faithful who risked everything and suffered persecution under the government of China to be faithful to the Roman Pontiff.  In effect, Francis has ignored them and their suffering in favor of improving relations between the Chinese government and the Vatican, though without any guarantees of that outcome.

So. . . accommodation is both a theological principle and a working principle for Francis. . . Hmmmm. . . wonder what some of Francis' critics and what some of his more liberal supporters are thinking now?  Francis has certainly chosen odd bed partners and now we will see how this accommodation works. . .


Carl Vehse said...

"So Francis has thrown his own bishops under the bus and given the Chinese government everything in exchange -- all for the prospect of improving relations."

We wouldn't expect the Antichrist to have done anything less.

Anonymous said...

At least this development will please Mel Gibson.

John Joseph Flanagan said...

Francis is just following the precedents of Popes of old, who were really quite wicked by any standard. The Papacy was always involved in the politics of power.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Peters wrote: "Hmmmm. . . wonder what some of Francis' critics and what some of his more liberal supporters are thinking now?"

Wasn't Francis the same Pope who joined in common prayer with the Grand Mufti in Istanbul a couple of years ago? Was it he or Pope Benedict who allowed an Islamic prayer service in the Vatican? Which previous Pope kissed a copy of the Koran? For how many hundreds of years have Roman Catholic congregations throughout Latin America been permitted to set up altars featuring images of Jesus, Mary, and of Satan and prayed to all three?

Rome would surely know that the only version of the bible permitted in China is a version approved by the Chinese government. I have tried in vain to find a news article or blog post that compares the official Chinese version of the bible to other Chinese bible versions. The official Chinese bible version denies that Jesus rose from the dead and will come again on the Last Day. I am sure there are numerous other differences.

Hey Roman Catholics everywhere: How will you respond knowing that the Pope now supports the official Chinese government-run Roman Catholic Church.....the very same Church that denies the deity of Jesus Christ!

More news about Christians in China:

James Kellerman said...

Anonymous, I agree, first of all, that the churches in China are tightly regulated by the government, which is rightly of concern to us Christians. Confessional churches (such as Lutheranism) cannot maintain an independent existence, but have been forced into the pan-Protestant church.

As much as we may disapprove of that policy, we should understand where it is coming from. China is a country that has tended to value an efficient, centralized bureaucracy, which the Chinese believe is the only way to rule a vast, almost ungovernable country. But when the central authorities show themselves unable to keep order or when they let foreigners invade, rebellions spring up to drive out the current regime. More than once those rebellions have been religiously inspired. Consider how just a century ago the Christian and Chinese nationalist Sun Yat-Sen (beloved by Communists and Nationalists alike) toppled the Qing dynasty, which had committed the twin vices of imposing its Manchurian dress (such as the queue) on the majority Han population and of allowing Westerners free rein in China (such as allowing FDR's grandfather and other Westerners to sell opium to the Chinese). The Chinese Communist Party may be (sort of) Communist, but first and foremost it is Chinese and thinks as the Chinese do: above all else, it doesn't want to lose the Mandate of Heaven, and letting chaos prevail is a sure sign that you have lost it.

But I must disagree with your analysis of the Chinese Bibles. I have been reading John's gospel in the Chinese New Version, which is popular outside of mainland China. (I have been using the CNV since allows you to read the text while listening to someone reading it out loud--a great learning tool for someone like me who can read about half the characters in a typical passage in John and can understand many more words when spoken.) But I just now compared it to the Chinese Union Version, which is used on the mainland. (The reason the CUV is used there is that it was the Bible prepared by Protestant missions under the aegis of the United Bible Society in 1919. And as we have seen with the Catholics, China doesn't permit any post-1949 outside interference in its religions.) I looked at John 20, and the CUV teaches the resurrection of Christ just as much as the CNV. In fact, a lot of the wording is identical in the two versions. I could check elsewhere, such as in 1 Corinthians 15, but I'm sure I'd get similar results. The USB, after all, wouldn't have approved of a blatantly heretical Bible in 1919.

Ted Badje said...

The Chinese communists do not allow evangelization from the Christian churches, state-controlled or otherwise. They oppress minorities, notably the Tibetans. These are unacceptable human rights violations.

eternalvisionfarmer said...

I sent in a long comment. Did you receive it?
Will you pray the following?
Part of a prayer:

28. Please God, give everyone the graces needed to understand and to admit that it is possible for YOU to be so infinitely good and powerful so as to create free will such that when any soul is given truly infinite graces, each soul, by their free will, freely chooses to perfectly conform themselves to Your Divine Will, even if it means willing themselves to go to hell forever and ever and ever because they did not truly repent in an acceptable time, and for everyone to know how arrogant and full of pride it is for anyone to say it is impossible for You to do such just because they do not see how You could do it, and for all to be humble and charitable enough to take the next step and honestly pray, asking You to give everyone those infinite graces, whether or not all will be reconciled by those graces, but to pray such because that is charity, that is love, that is willing the best for everyone, that is what YOU want us to do.

Do you admit that God could be that infinitely powerful? and

Will you take the next step and pray, asking God to give everyone those truly infinite graces?

Anonymous said...

Eternalvisionfarmer, Scripture teaches that our minds and will are corrupt since Adam fell. This only changes when we are converted to Christ. Can I suggest you read Luther’s “Bondage of the Will”? This was his response to Erasmus’ book on the freedom of the will and may help you see a different perspective.