Thursday, May 04, 2006

Standing up to China

Vatican, May. 04 ( - The Vatican has released a scorching criticism of the illicit ordination of two bishops for the government-approved "official" Church in China.

The statement charges that the government forced other Catholics to participate in the ceremonies, in a "grave violation of religious freedom." And it warned that the bishops ordained without the approval of the Holy See, and those who ordained them, are subject to excommunication.

So reported Catholic World News today.

It's really nice to see the Vatican's fiery response to this latest act of interference with the church. Too often, the attitude in the past has seemed similar to Google's: make the best bargain you can, then swallow your pride and your principles, because China is so big, so vast a market, etc.

The current plight of the Chinese church is a reminder of how past choices can have enormous future consequences. Back in the late 1940's, when part of China was still free but the communists were on the march, all the sophisticated people in the U.S. cautioned against "getting involved in a land war in Asia." Understandable after the sacrifices of the Pacific war, I suppose. And then look what happened: a year after Mao took over, we had our dreaded land war in Asia: Korea.

Imagine the world that might have been, had communism been turned back then. No Korean War. Probably no Vietnam War. No Tienanmen Square. A China prosperous and relatively free, and probably aligned with the West, not cozying up to rogue states like Iran in order to make trouble for us.

Oh -- and a China open to the Gospel, and maybe even now turning to Christ. It may yet happen, but not without terrible suffering on the part of countless Chinese Christians.