The Vatican Hearts Hu

Yes. As predicted, Hu is cementing his image as the tolerant, benevolent dictator who reached out to the Dalai Lama and the Catholic Church, breaking a half-century tradition of reeking of intolerance and celebrating persecution. It’s a marriage made in heaven, and the jilted suitor is Taiwan.

After more than half a century of hostility, China and the Roman Catholic Church have inched within reach of normal relations, a historic shift aimed at improving the lives of 10 million Chinese who regularly practice the faith, according to leaders and analysts on both sides of the divide.

The irregular contacts, often made at meetings in Rome between Vatican diplomats and Chinese Communist Party officials, remain clouded by mutual suspicion, they said. Party elders particularly fear that the church could become a rallying point for anti-government agitation as it did in Eastern Europe.

But the process has overcome a major stumbling block with recent signals from the Vatican that it is willing to break with Taiwan and set up diplomatic relations with Beijing as part of an overall accord guaranteeing the church’s role in China.

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong, the senior Roman Catholic cleric in China, said the Vatican’s readiness to drop ties with Taiwan represents a major gain for the Chinese government and is the main motive for Beijing’s decision to soften hostility toward the church. Other analysts noted that the reconciliation talks also fit into a broad effort by China to establish normal trade and other relations with countries around the world, including heavily Catholic nations in Central America whose diplomatic loyalties now lie with Taiwan.

Definitely read the whole thing.

All that matters at the end of the day is perception, and the perception of “Red China” is changing in front of our eyes, from the prickly, paranoid, North Korea-like xenophobes to a softer, kinder, gentler, more lovable police state. As said in my earlier post on Hu’s diplomatic finesse, this hardly means Hu can now claim sainthood. But it does mean he’s winning massive victories on the public relations front, solidfying his image as the star in the ascendant, leader of a more tolerant nation and “friend to all the earht,” as the sign at the Beijing airport tells all newly arriving tourists. And it is at the expense of the US, increasingly seen (thanks in large part to man-child Bush) as the intolerant, volatile, vituperative out-of-control jingoist state that threatens the safety of everyone on the planet. How is that for role reversal? How is that for a coup? Chalk one up for Hu. And yes, it’s of little consolation to poor Hao Wu and countless other victims of the Party’s magnanimity. But their voices are small and weak, and most of the world hardly knows they exist. And Hu understands that. Shrewd, shrewd.

The Discussion: 7 Comments

It’s shrewd, and in the short term it will buttress the stability of CCP rulership- which is not entirely a bad thing.

But never, never underestimate the stamina and endurance and spiritual persuasiveness of the Catholic Church. There are good reasons why it has lasted for between 1,700 and 2,000 years (depending on whether you date it to Constantine or to Jesus. Either way, it’s an old, old institution, and there are some good reasons for its long survival, and NOT all of them are based on raw physical force.)

When Pope John Paul II (with whom I did not always agree, but I did admire him in many ways) visited Poland in 1979, the first words out of his mouth were:

“Be not afraid.”

And that was the beginning of the end of the Soviet Communist Empire.

Leninist Communism was born in 1917 and has been dying a slow death ever since then. Christianity has been going strong for 2,000 years. Which one do you think will last longer?
Christianity or the Communist Party?

The Communist Party has “heroes” like Lenin and Mao, mass murderers. Christianity has – well – first of all, Jesus of Nazareth, whose moral teachings still make sense to people all over the world, two millenia after the government killed him. And all of the Old Testament heroes too – they’re part of the appeal of Christianity as well –
Moses the man of Law, and Solomon, etc etc.
If you include the Old Testament heroes of Christianity, then you’re going back around 5,000 years.

While the CCP only goes back to around 1920, to Mao who never bathed and whose “philosophy” was the philosophy of a barnyard autodidact.

Mao: “At a certain temperature, an egg will turn into a chicken. But no temperature can ever turn a rock into a chicken.” Well, no shit, idiot.

Jesus: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be.”

Which one do you think will be more appealing to the 80 percent of Chinese who are left out of China’s new prosperity?

And finally, the Human Spirit is NOT designed in the way Marx said it was. The Human Spirit needs some means of transcendence. The Communists aspired to create a new way of transcendence, and they failed. They failed, miserably, and now all that remains of the original Communist aspiration, is the desperate attempt of the CCP to keep their own personal privileges.

How many CCP members would be willing to suffer and die for “Communism” today? I’ll bet almost none. But Christianity has a long, long, long history of its believers suffering and dying for it. 2,000 years.

That’s what Hu has opened China up to. And well done, too. He’s doing the right thing. It will be good for China in the long run, to open up to other, older religions – other than the new and now dying cult of Communism.

“Be not afraid!” ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ If I were an atheist or an agnostic (as I am not), then my hearing THOSE words, spoken by any Human, would be the start of my reconsidering that perhaps God really does play a role on this Earth…because those words mean nothing to mere beasts……….

April 23, 2006 @ 9:35 am | Comment

I cannot disagree with a single word you say. Sadly, the Catholic Church doesn’t have an unblemished record when it comes to making peace with bad men, as the Concordat with Germany tells us. I hope they handle this with care and intelligence, avoiding the blinding glare of China’s new wealth and success (which, as you say, is not well shared among China’s citizenry).

April 23, 2006 @ 9:41 am | Comment

Doesn’t seeem to have anything to do with freedom of religion, and everything to do with the remenants of the chinese civil war.

April 23, 2006 @ 3:35 pm | Comment

Ivan, right on!

What I found many media film clips during Hu’s visit interesting was those showing his former visit to open/close the market at Wall Street as the head of the CCP; now that’s funnier than Deng Xiaoping wearing a Texan cowboy hat!

April 23, 2006 @ 4:59 pm | Comment

And finally, the Human Spirit is NOT designed in the way Marx said it was. The Human Spirit needs some means of transcendence. The Communists aspired to create a new way of transcendence, and they failed. They failed, miserably, and now all that remains of the original Communist aspiration, is the desperate attempt of the CCP to keep their own personal privileges.

There isn’t any difference between Communism and Catholicism, Ivan. Lenin created the institutional basis for Marx’s ideas by studying the early Church arrangements of Christianity. The strengths of the Church are the strengths of the Party. That is why neither will ever go away, and both rack up such huge body counts.

I personally look forward to the day when humans give up the insane idea that their ethical legitimacy is grounded in transcendent ideals, whether God, the Laws of History, or the State. Behind every claim to Absolute Truth is a sword itching to come out.

Michael

April 24, 2006 @ 4:00 am | Comment

“What I found many media film clips during Hu’s visit interesting was those showing his former visit to open/close the market at Wall Street as the head of the CCP”

I actually find it funny that you found it funny.

April 24, 2006 @ 3:38 pm | Comment

Michael, that’s news to me. But I’ll agree that religion has no place in State, due to the potential for people to be manipulated outside of reason. A science-based society is messy enough (due to interpretations of facts). The thing is that people need something to believe in to satisfy their collaboration drive. Other wise many would just get plain depressed.

April 24, 2006 @ 9:01 pm | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.