Australian apologists for the Chinese regime should hang their heads in shame, with further proof that China is crushing religious freedom with glee and breathtaking arrogance.
Just this week it has been revealed that churches throughout China have been forced to remove religious iconography, which are then replaced by, er, religious iconography, namely the current President and that most hateful and hate-filled of men, Chairman Mao.
Yet all the while here in Australia we get the likes of former PMs Kevin Rudd and Paul Keating making excuses for a regime that has bulldozed churches; tortured and raped believers; forbidden children from attending churches; and imprisoned millions of its own people, the Muslim Uyghurs.
It’s times like this one wonders, when the word Nazi is bandied around with such alacrity in relation to the Donald, what language one has left to describe this embodiment of evil. Yet, strangely, we largely hear silence from the Left on what is happening to believers in China.
Could it be that wearing a Mao tee-shirt and waving a hammer and sickle flag at a protest has proved too intoxicating to those whose grasp of history does not extend back the thirty years to the fall of the Berlin Wall?
And where does this leave the current Pope, Francis, also the darling of the progressive media, whose big play has been to champion the poor and downtrodden? The same Pope Francis who signed off a deal with the Chinese authorities giving them the right to shape the Catholic Church in its own image?
One year on they’re not only shaping it that way, they’re lining the walls with their particularly venal saints. Perhaps Francis is simply ensuring there’s a growing pile of poor and downtrodden towards which to direct his well-documented championing. He’s taking seriously Jesus’ words, “the poor you will always have with you” and doing his best to ensure it.
I have spoken to, or listened to podcasts by, a number of well thought out and influential Catholics recently and, although they mostly couch their concerns in language that could be taken either way, they are dismayed by this Pope. They want to say more, but their ecclesiology is curtailing what they can voice – in public at least.
Francis compares deeply unfavourably with Benedict in terms of theological acumen, and even more unfavourably with John Paul II in terms of sheer bravery in the face of state terror. So, with which pontiff does he compare favourably, if any at all? How about Pius XI who, in proving he was incapable of living up to his name, signed a concordat with that most impious of villains, Adolf Hitler.
Francis may be the darling of the media because they think he could be the Pope to change the “gay thing”, but he can have that media crowd as far as I am concerned. The truly faithful crowd, not to mention the thinking crowd, are done with him.
French based liberal Catholic daily, la Croix, in describing the Chinese authorities’ atrocities towards the Uyghurs put it like this:
“This has put Xi in the exclusive mass murderers’ club of gulag operators along with Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. And it is now not beyond the realms of possibility that similar treatment may be meted out to Christians who will not fall in line with state edicts.
Hitler and Stalin and Xi. Rolls off the tongue a bit like, well a bit like Hitler and Stalin and Mao.
Perhaps too this is a reminder, and a timely one, that when the state decides that it knows best when it comes to what the country’s values ought to be, things go pear-shaped.
In the UK there have already been significant pushes for organisations to sign up to “British” values, whatever they are supposed to be, and to face sanctions if they don’t. I’m not sure what “British values” actually are, but if recent years are any indication, anti-Semitism, random acts of violence and the public vilification of anyone who stands in the way of sexual progress would appear to be an unholy Trinity.
Meanwhile the Australian Human Rights Commission has recently characterised the Catholic Church’s desire to maintain its requests for religious exemptions as “freezing in time community standards”.
Ah, good old “community standards”. Whatever they are, and whoever gets to decide what they are. The community I guess, though only the state ever seems confident enough to pronounce that it knows what these standards actually consist of.
Well whatever those standards and values are in the West, – imposed tolerance for all and upon all I suppose -, never let it be said that we are going to repeat the colonial mistakes of the past when it comes to China.
As long as the money keeps flowing, and the coal ships keep sailing, then at least one Catholic icon, that of St Cajetan, – the patron saint of wealth no less -, will be permitted to hang on the walls of China’s increasingly beleaguered Catholic churches.