A poster of Chinese President Xi Jinping hangs next to a crucifix on the wall of the house of a Tibetan Catholic on Christmas Eve in Niuren village, in China's Yunnan province, in this Dec. 24, 2018, file photo. CNS photo/Tyrone Siu, Reuters

Editorial: Please, no more

  • October 27, 2022

The adage holds that when supping with the Devil, it’s best to use a long spoon. Current Vatican politics and diplomacy seems to have spun it into Oliver Twist’s: “Please, sir, I want some more.”

How else to explain the so-far inexplicable decision to re-up for two more years on its pact with the Communist dictatorship in Beijing. How inexplicable? Because the original and the extension, announced Oct. 22, is largely a secret document. If we can’t know what we can’t know, how can we account for it?

Account is the operative word for stretching the 2018 concordat to a full six years. As anyone who pauses on the financial pages will attest, the world’s accountants, money managers and investment bankers appear to be in full scale bail from the Chi-Com economy after the stage-managed extravaganza of the Party’s weekend National Congress.

As the Wall Street Journal headlined bluntly: “Shares in Chinese Companies Crash After Xi Jinping Stacks Party With Allies.” The Glorious Leader’s purging of even moderate market-oriented liberal voices (liberal by Chinese communist standards) was followed by U.S.-listed Chinese stocks plummeting to levels last seen around 2012. There was shedding of “tens of billions of dollars in market value,” the WSJ said. The crash comes as China wobbles economically in the wake of borderline lunatic COVID lockdowns, Xi-driven gutting of its tech industry, and its real estate sector in meltdown.

True, those same descriptors apply to the current state of Great Britain after the tilt-a-whirl of Liz Truss’ six-week spin through office. A critical difference is that when Truss lost all support she was quickly replaced. Xi Jinping will lead China for an unprecedented third five-year term. No doubt future terms will extend to infinity and beyond. 

The business of having an unassailable dictator-for-life isn’t just bad for business. A portent of coming cruelty was there in Xi’s face when Hu Jintao, his immediate predecessor and former Chinese Communist Party general secretary, was frog-marched out of the National Congress in full view of delegates and recording video cameras. With utter pathos, Hu tried to stop at Xi’s desk to appeal to him. Charlie Manson couldn’t match the cold-blooded look on the Glorious Leader’s face.  

This is the man the Vatican diplomatic whisperers and politico-prelates trust to treat Chinese Catholics with forbearance? This atheist who arrested Cardinal Zen on spurious charges? Whose lawlessness passed with Vatican silence save for a spoonful of sugar to help concerned lay Catholics swallow the bitter pill that they should simply let those who know best worry about things we know nothing about?

Except Catholics can, of course, read Oliver Twist. They know his plea for “more” was met with this: “The master aimed a blow at Oliver’s head with the ladle, pinioned his arms, and shrieked aloud for the beadle.” Maybe Vatican diplo-politico whispers should open their Dickens. 

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