1. The Vatican’s Illusions About Chinese Communism, Cardinal Joseph Zen says that the Holy See misunderstands how repressive China is, By David Feith, The Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2016, Pg. A13, Commentary.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, the most senior Chinese cleric in the Catholic Church, believes the Vatican is fast approaching a tragic mistake in China.

Within days church leaders could conclude a landmark agreement with the Chinese government after 65 years of acrimony and persecution. Pope Francis isn’t known to have signed off, and before he does Cardinal Zen prays to be heard.

Proponents say the deal would help millions of “underground” Catholics and open the world’s most populous country for evangelization. Cardinal Zen says it would sacrifice church principles, abandon the faithful, undermine evangelization and invite further repression.

The deal concerns who gets to select Catholic bishops in China—as vital a power as there is. Beijing has claimed it since the 1950s, when Mao Zedong banished Vatican officials and established the state-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association in their place. That organ now oversees the “official church” of some 70 bishops and five million adherents who answer to Beijing and toe its line. The underground church, by contrast, follows the pope, for which its 30 bishops and estimated seven million adherents face harassment, imprisonment and worse.

Cardinal Zen slams Vatican diplomats who say that embracing the Patriotic Association is needed to preserve the church’s hierarchy and sacraments. “I would prefer no bishops,” he says. “With fake bishops you are destroying the church.”

“Pope Francis has no real knowledge of communism,” the cardinal laments. He blames Francis’ experience in Argentina, where military dictators and rich elites did evil while actual or accused communists suffered trying to help the downtrodden. “So the Holy Father knew the persecuted communists, not the communist persecutors. He knew the communists killed by the government, not the communist governments who killed thousands and hundreds of thousands of people.” (In China it was tens of millions.)

“I’m sorry to say that in his goodwill he has done many things which are simply ridiculous,” the cardinal says of the pope. These include his approaches to both China and Cuba, the other communist state he has courted at the apparent expense of human rights. But still he’s the pope, so even if he signs a bad deal Cardinal Zen says he won’t protest once it’s done.


2. Pope denounces violence in God’s name in interfaith meeting, By Associated Press, November 3, 2016, 7:11 AM.

Pope Francis has welcomed a multi-faith delegation at the Vatican, using the occasion to condemn terrorist attacks and other violence committed in the name of religion.

Francis, whose papacy has stressed the need for religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue, met Thursday with some 200 representatives of various religions, including Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

He told them: “It is horrible that at times, to justify such barbarism, the name of a religion or the name of God himself is invoked. May there be clear condemnation of these iniquitous attitudes that profane the name of God and sully the religious quest of mankind.”


3. What Every Evangelist Needs to Know, By Bishop James D. Conley, STL, Crisis Magazine, November 4, 2016.

Editor’s note: The following address by Bishop James Conley of the Diocese of Lincoln was delivered at the Catholic Answers Evangelization Conference in Omaha on October 29, 2016.

G.K. Chesterton says that each generation is converted by the saint who contradicts it most.

If we are going to make disciples in the stark, technocratic, lonely culture of American public life, we need to become signs of contradiction. In today’s world, that means that we are called embrace what the world rejects: friendship, beauty, goodness, truth, weakness, suffering, joy, and hope. If we are going to become the saints of this moment it will be because we embrace the reality of human life, living fully and freely, because of the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.

Becoming a sign of contradiction is not the same as becoming contrarian. Evangelization is not a war with the world. Nor does becoming a sign of contradiction mean withdrawing from the world. The world is already mired in conflict, and fractured and atomized. Becoming a sign of contradiction means witnessing to something more delightful, more profound, and more meaningful than what our world offers.

Evangelization is an invitation, expressed in love, to encounter, love, and serve the living God. Evangelization is a witness to the real peace, joy, and hope of life in Jesus Christ.


4. A reminder that this Jesuit pope is also highly Franciscan, By John L. Allen Jr. , Editor, Crux, November 3, 2016.

Today, Rome’s Pontifical Theological Faculty of Saint Bonaventure, better known as the “Seraphicum,” hosts a conference to mark the 800th anniversary of the “Pardon of Assisi,” an indulgence for the forgiveness of sins traditionally regarded as granted by Pope Honorius III in response to a personal request by St. Francis of Assisi.

Among the highlights will be a presentation by Capuchin Father Rainero Cantalamesa, the Preacher of the Papal Household, on “Mercy: Witness and Mission of the Church Today,” in keeping with the spirit of Pope Francis’s jubilee Year of Mercy.

The coincidence – which is not, of course, really a coincidence – that the anniversary of the Pardon of Assisi falls during this jubilee year creates a good occasion for recalling a key insight about Pope Francis: To wit, yes, he’s very much a Jesuit, but there’s also a deeply “Franciscan” imprint to his papacy.

For those who don’t know the story, tradition has it that one night in 1216, Francis of Assisi was praying in the Porziuncola, the small church where his order was founded, when he had a vision of Jesus and Mary surrounded by angels.

Because Francis prayed so ardently for mercy for sinners, he was told he could choose any grace he desired and it would be granted. He asked that all the sins be forgiven of anyone who repented, confessed and visited the small church. Through Mary, Francis was told his desire would be granted on the condition that he got the permission of the pope.