The renewal of the Sino-Vatican Agreement and civil unions for homosexuals

A first comment arrives from China on the Agreement’s renewal. The ambiguities over civil unions and the similarity with expectations over the Agreement. The author is a blogger priest, a member of the official Church.

by Shan Ren Shen Fu (山人神父)

Beijing (AsiaNews) – Below we publish the first comment sent to us from mainland Chinese following the renewal of the Sino-Vatican Agreement on the appointment of bishops. In fact, although there have beenstatements from the Vaticanandcomments from otherson the Agreement, there has been a silence in the Chinese Church, which many interpret as an “embarrassed and pained silence”. The author of this reflection is Shanren Shenfu, “the mountain priest”, a blogger priest, member of the official Church, who compares the renewal of the agreement tothe controversy over “civil unions” for homosexuals that exploded after the screening of the film “Francesco” in Rome.

Yesterday [October 22nd – ed.] I was waiting for the announcement of the renewal of the Agreement [between China and the Vatican], but that same morning on the blog suddenly many messages concerning homosexuals popped up. What I could gather from reading, is that this is a documentary on Pope Francis, released just today. The documentary includes an interview in which the Pope argues that “civil unions” must be adopted, so that homosexuals are not cut off from the “family”.

I don’t have access to the original text and the only available source was in Chinese, or to actually read the original text I would have to seek out the service of a translator from the [original] language. The content of the interview has already sparked heated debates online, but we still cannot say precisely whether it is the media or producers who arbitrarily interpret partial citations. At the moment this assumption seems to be the most benign reading.

This is exactly like the Sino-Vatican secret agreement: although the Vatican admits that after two years of experimentation, no great results have been achieved, in order to push for the renewal of the agreement it exclusively emphasized the positive aspects in light of high hopes for the future. It was as if the Vatican thought that by underpinning its openings, China would in turn [almost certainly] continue to open up. Here we are now in the realm of faith. After all, faith is always the guarantee of invisible things! [See Hebrews 11,1].

Undoubtedly, we can believe that Pope Francis encourages the recognition of the “civil union” of homosexuals, out of a great love and mercy. The same applies to the fine words that were said at the conclusion of two unsuccessful years of the Agreement, without forgetting to specify that this Agreement “does not concern political diplomacy, but exclusively the affairs of the Church”, that is, the appointment of bishops. (In fact it is not true that the Agreement has not brought any results: the candidates of the bishops of Pingliang and Wuhan have substantially already been defined, it seems, and the Holy See has already had the opportunity to agree everything with the parties!).

I do not know if you have noticed, the question of the appointment of bishops in China is presented in the same way as the Pope’s proposal to recognize the marriage of homosexuals as a “civil union”.

No solution has been reached for the question of the appointment of bishops, after two years of Agreement. So there is the renewal for another two years, during which failure by the two parties to reach a compromise will mean accepting modalities for the “appointment of bishops” other than universal appointment. This method looks a bit like [the definition of] the family, but it’s still different. The “civil union” is not a family in all respects, since, according to the conception of the Church, by family we mean father, mother and their children! The social doctrine of the Church says: “true marriage consists in the union of a man and a woman, and only the marriage of a believer with a faithful is a sacrament, the rest is not” (words of a certain professor of theology).

The Holy See has always stressed that the Sino-Vatican Agreement does not concern politics, rather only the affairs of the Church. This statement seems to mean: we have not talked about politics before politics, but only about internal affairs. Having said that, if we are not talking about politics, but only about the internal affairs of the Church, why does the content of the Agreement remain secret for another two years?

The Holy See admits that it did not deliberately ask for confidentiality, and that it was China that requested it. So will the agreement continue to remain secret for the next two years, respecting China’s request, just to be able to resolve the internal issue of the appointment of bishops?

I hope someone will charge me of arbitrarily interpreting the situation, but I must point out that even if I am, believe me, my interpretation remains the most benevolent!

Some may ask: Does the Sino-Vatican Agreement really matter? Isn’t the normalization of the Church in China and the consequent communion with the universal Church a good thing? If it really was, of course it is a great thing: everyone wants freedom and normality. This is the hope that dwells in many. However, just like the knot regarding homosexuals, the Church must first of all clarify the concept of “family” and “marriage”, so that when the Pope’s support for a “civil union” is announced, it won’t cause so much outrage.

It is evident that the Church has not changed its mind on the concept of marriage and family, which is why when some malicious media announces that Pope Francis supports the right of homosexuals to have a family, the news raises numerous debates and controversies. This is also why there are faithful who question me: “Who do you think you are? These words come from the Pope, could they possibly be wrong?”

At this point, I would like to clarify that I am not doubting the Agreement because the Pope said some time ago: “I who signed it, I take all responsibility for it!”. So that no one has any reason to doubt anymore. It is just like yesterday’s affair: the “civil union” [between China and the Vatican] has become the prelude to the appointment of Chinese bishops. If this is indeed the case, then all the people who have won papal support have done well to cry.

Not surprisingly, yesterday in the group there was a Chinese student, who after seeing “the Pope’s support”, commented: “I am crying with emotion, it is now possible to openly declare one’s sexual orientation, thank God!”.

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