Cardinal Joseph Zen, the former bishop of Hong Kong, has came forward to publicly criticize the brewing deal between the Vatican and China's ruling Communist Party.
According to the cardinal, if approved, the deal would betray Jesus Christ.
For several months now, the Vatican and China have been engaging in negotiations regarding how the country's government will oversee its religious sector. As part of the agreement, the Chinese government is seeking permission from the Vatican to appoint its own bishops through the China Catholic Patriotic Association without intervention from the Holy See.
As noted by Cardinal Zen, allowing a government to move forward with state-appointed bishops and other religious leaders goes against the teachings of the Church. Also, given the Chinese Communist Party's track record, this will serve as another way for the ruling class to oppress Catholics and Protestant Christians in the country.
For several years now, the Chinese government has been carrying out crackdowns on churches and religious sects not approved by the state. These include taking down and burning over 1,000 crosses from churches and arresting non-state-appointed priests. These actions have forced many Catholics and Christians in China to practice their religion underground through secret meetings.
According to Cardinal Zen, it is possible that Pope Francis is unaware of the magnitude of the religious persecution currently happening in China.
"Maybe the Pope is a little naïve, he doesn't have the background to know the Communists in China," the cardinal told The Guardian. "The Pope used to know the persecuted communists [in Latin America], but he may not know the communist persecutors who have killed hundreds of thousands."
In addition, Zen noted that through government-appointed religious leaders, the state will be able to successfully use fake religious freedom as another means to control and oppress the public. Because of this, he told the Vatican to simply walk away from its negotiations with China.
"You cannot go into negotiations with the mentality 'we want to sign an agreement at any cost,' then you are surrendering yourself, you are betraying yourself, you are betraying Jesus Christ," he said.