1. Parolin’s ‘no diplomacy’ diplomacy for a Chinese Church, By Ed. Condon, The Pillar, May 23, 2024, 8:27 AM
Chinese Catholics can be their country’s best citizens, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said in a speech Tuesday at a conference in Rome.
Parolin, the Holy See’s foreign minister and the architect of the controversial Vatican-China deal on the appointment of bishops, used the example of a 19th century papal envoy to China to outline a vision for Church-state relations and enculturation for the local Church.
Key to a flourishing Church in China, according to Parolin, is making the local Church “missionary” but not foreign, and stripping back the Holy See’s engagement with the government to the level of ecclesiastical affairs only.
While indicating that the Vatican-China deal was almost sure to be renewed later this year, the cardinal also repeated the Holy See’s ambition for a permanent presence on the mainland, with a dedicated Vatican envoy in China.
But, Parolin stressed, that envoy would have to be a purely pastoral presence, shorn of the diplomatic role of Vatican’s global emissaries.
The cardinal’s speech, given May 21 at a conference hosted by the Pontifical Urban University in Rome titled “100 years since the Concilium Sinense: Between the Past and the Present” offered an interesting view of the roadmap being pursued by the Vatican in China.
But it also raises questions about the identity of China as a nation, and Chinese Catholic’s place both in the Church and in their homeland.
Could Parolin’s bid for “no diplomacy” diplomacy with China work, or is it a manifesto for a Communist franchise church?

For both senior diplomatic and clerical sources, in Rome and in China, the problem with Parolin’s engagement with China as described in his speech on Tuesday is that it accepts the CCP’s premise that the Chinese culture and people are indistinguishable from the Communist Party., and therefore the subjugation of the Church to the party is a necessary characteristic of authentic enculturation.
But in validating the vision shared by Shen and the CCP, and accepting the bishop as the de facto leader of the Church in China, the Vatican has had to seemingly accept the breach in practical ecclesiastical communion between state-appointed bishop and the Bishop of Rome — despite Parolin describing this as a “fundamental requirement” and “implicit condition”.
This mutual exclusion of Parolin’s twin criteria for a fruitful future for the Church in China also requires an awkward and ever-more obvious policy of studied silence on the bishops in China who reject Communist authority over ecclesiastical affairs.

Many underground priests, and some bishops, have refused to register with the CPCA, citing the requirement that they acknowledge Communist Party authority over the Church and its teachings. 
Bishops and priests who refuse to register have been subject to systematic harassment, arrests and detention. Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou was arrested earlier this year.
The Vatican’s Secretariat of State issued unsigned guidance in 2019, stating that “the Holy See understands and respects the choice of those who, in conscience, decide that they are unable to register under the current conditions,” but has raised no public objections to state harassment and arrest of bishops and priests.
For many, including many Chinese Catholics, these bishops and priests — who are Chinese, not foreign missionaries — are the real face of authentically enculturated Chinese Catholicism, committed to their ministry, to their people, to communion with Rome, and rejecting Communist interference in matters of the faith.

The sense of Parolin’s speech Tuesday was that the Vatican wants to hermetically seal its dealings with the Chinese government, holding talks on the future of the Church there separate from any other issues or considerations, and treating problems and awkward issues purely on their own terms.
Unfortunately for the Vatican, diplomacy cannot be done in a vacuum, and it’s increasingly obvious that its diplomatic exchanges with China are a zero sum game.
However cordially Parolin might welcome Bishop Shen and the renewal of the Vatican-China for another two years, those years will likely come with costs — in communion of local bishops like Shen with the pope, in suffering for bishops who keep faith with Rome over the CCP, and in support for the Vatican’s diplomatic allies like Taiwan.
2. Biden administration launches reporting tool for health law at center of abortion dispute, By Daniel Payne, Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, May 23, 2024, 11:17 AM
The Biden administration this week launched an online tool designed to allow patients to report violations of a federal health law, one that the White House says requires emergency room doctors to perform abortions in some cases. 

Though the announcement does not mention abortion, the release said the tool is “part of the Biden-Harris administration’s comprehensive plan to educate the public and promote patient access to the emergency medical care to which they are entitled under federal law.”
“If an individual believes their EMTALA rights have been violated, it is important that they can easily file a complaint,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in the announcement.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, specifically praised the tool as “incredibly important” for women in the post-Roe v. Wade United States.
“The Biden administration has fought at every turn to ensure women receive emergency health care in all circumstances, but make no mistake, these protections and so many others could very well disappear under a second Trump administration,” Murray said.

3. Carlo Acutis to be first millennial saint: Pope Francis recognizes miracle for canonization, By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency, May 23, 2024, 6:22 PM
Pope Francis has recognized a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Carlo Acutis, paving the way for him to become the first millennial saint.
The Italian computer-coding teenager who died of cancer in 2006 is known for his great devotion to the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
The recognition of the second miracle attributed to Acutis’ intercession makes it possible that Acutis could be canonized during the Catholic Church’s 2025 Jubilee Year.
In a decree on May 23, Pope Francis approved the miraculous healing of a 21-year-old girl from Costa Rica named Valeria Valverde who was near death after seriously injuring her head in a bicycle accident while studying in Florence in 2022.

4. Analysis shows number of nonreligious Americans stabilizing after prior surge, By Tyler Arnold, Catholic News Agency, May 23, 2024, 6:00 AM
From the early 1990s through the 2010s, the number of Americans who identified as atheist, agnostic, and nonaffiliated saw a major surge — but that number appears to be stabilizing, according to an analysis published on May 20
Ryan Burge, a political scientist at Eastern Illinois University and a Baptist pastor, published an analysis of religious demographic data from the annual Cooperative Election Study, comparing 2023 numbers with previous years. He found that in the past five years — from 2019 through 2023 — the number of Americans who do not identify with a particular religion has been relatively stable.
In 2019, the analysis notes, the percentage of Americans who identified as nonreligious was at 35%. By 2023, the percentage only increased by one percentage point — to 36%. Over those five years, the percentage of nonreligious Americans fluctuated between 34% and 36% — without any major surge or reduction.
“It’s slowed down considerably,” Burge told CNA.

5. Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee, Texas’ health department has appointed an outspoken anti-abortion OB-GYN to a state committee that reviews pregnancy-related deaths, By Associated Press, May 22, 2024, 8:12 PM
Texas’ health department has appointed an outspoken anti-abortion OB-GYN to a committee that reviews pregnancy-related deaths as doctors have been warning that the state’s restrictive abortion ban puts women’s lives at risk.
Dr. Ingrid Skop was among the new appointees to the Texas Maternal Morality and Morbidity Review Committee announced last week by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Her term starts June 1.
The committee, which compiles data on pregnancy-related deaths, makes recommendations to the Legislature on best practices and policy changes and is expected to assess the impact of abortion laws on maternal mortality.
Skop, who has worked as an OB-GYN for over three decades, is vice president and director of medical affairs for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion research group. Skop will be the committee’s rural representative.

6. Pontifical Academy for Life is betraying its founder, JPII biographer George Weigel says, By Walter Sánchez Silva, Catholic News Agency, May 22, 2024, 3:05 PM
George Weigel, biographer of St. John Paul II, lamented that the Pontifical Academy for Life betrayed Dr. Jérôme Lejeune, its founding president, with a book that dissents from the pontiff’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life).
Weigel made the charge last week in his talk titled “St. John Paul II and Jérôme Lejeune: Two Lives at the Service of Life,” given as part of the second International Conference on Bioethics in Rome from May 17–18 in the Eternal City.
“For decades, the academy and the John Paul II Institute did creative, innovative work in developing a Catholic moral theology and pastoral practice capable of meeting the challenge of 21st-century assaults on the dignity and sanctity of life — and did so in ways that called the various expressions of the culture of death to conversion,” the author and theologian noted.
“Yet now,” Weigel continued, ”the academy has published a book with the ironic title ‘La Gioia della Vita,’ (‘The Joy of Life’) authored by theologians who can only be described honestly as dissenting from the authoritative teaching of Evangelium Vitae.”
“That book not only weakens the Catholic case for a culture of life that rejects the grave crimes against life identified by Evangelium Vitae. It does so in terms of an anti-biblical and anti-metaphysical anthropology that would have been completely foreign, indeed abhorrent, to both Jérôme Lejeune and John Paul II,” he pointed out.
In his presentation, Weigel further charged that “as the Pontifical Academy for Life betrays its founding president, Dr. Lejeune, by publishing and promoting such an ill-informed and poorly-argued book, so does the reconstituted John Paul II Institute, now largely bereft of students, betray the intention of the saint and scholar who founded it, and who called Catholic moral theology to a renewal that would not surrender to the zeitgeist, the spirit of the age, but rather convert it to right reason, true compassion, and the noble exercise of freedom.”
“And that is why we must hope that the deconstruction of the Pontifical Academy for Life and the John Paul II Institute for Studies of Marriage and the Family, a painful process that can be observed over the past decade, is halted, and then reversed, in the years ahead,” emphasized the eminent scholar of the life of St. John Paul II.

7. Pope Francis to palliative care symposium: Euthanasia is a ‘failure of love’, By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency, May 22, 2024, 1:35 PM
Speaking to an interfaith symposium on palliative care taking place in Toronto May 21–23, Pope Francis said that “authentic palliative care is radically different from euthanasia, which is never a source of hope or genuine concern for the sick and dying.”
“All who experience the uncertainties so often brought about by sickness and death need the witness of hope provided by those who care for them and who remain at their side,” the pope said in his message to the symposium.  
“In this regard, palliative care, while seeking to alleviate the burden of pain as much as possible, is above all a concrete sign of closeness and solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are suffering. At the same time, this kind of care can help patients and their loved ones to accept the vulnerability, frailty, and finitude that mark human life in this world.”

8. Bishop of Shanghai defends China’s religious freedom record at Vatican conference, By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency, May 22, 2024, 1:34 PM
The bishop of Shanghai defended the Chinese government’s religious freedom record at a Vatican conference on Tuesday in a speech that called for the Church in China to “follow a path of ‘sinicization.’”
One year after Bishop Joseph Shen Bin was unilaterally installed by Chinese authorities as bishop of Shanghai in violation of the Vatican-China deal, the controversial Chinese bishop was a featured speaker at a Vatican conference beside Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
The Shanghai bishop delivered a 15-minute speech in Mandarin to a packed auditorium at the Pontifical Urban University on the Janiculum Hill overlooking St. Peter’s Basilica.
“The policy of religious freedom implemented by the Chinese government has no interest in changing the Catholic faith but only hopes that the Catholic clergy and faithful will defend the interests of the Chinese people and free themselves from the control of foreign powers,” Shen Bin said in his speech.

According to the 2024 report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, religious freedom conditions in China deteriorated last year as the government intensified its implementation of its “sinicization” policy, which “requires groups to follow the CCP’s Marxist interpretation of religion, including by altering religious scriptures and doctrines to conform to that interpretation.”


TCA Media Monitoring provides a snapshot from national newspapers and major Catholic press outlets of coverage regarding significant Catholic Church news and current issues with which the Catholic Church is traditionally or prominently engaged. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Association.
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