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Vatican ‘foreign minister’ doubts speaking out on Hong Kong ‘would make any difference whatever’

By Courtney Mares for CNA

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States within the Holy See's Secretariat of State, at the Vatican Oct. 27, 2017. (Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA)

Vatican City, Jun 25, 2021 / 05:45 am (CNA).

A senior Vatican official said Friday that he and many of his colleagues at the Secretariat of State have yet to be convinced that speaking out on the situation in Hong Kong “would make any difference whatever.”

When Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s equivalent of a foreign minister, was asked what made the civil unrest in Lebanon different to the Holy See than the protest movement in Hong Kong, he replied that the Secretariat of State did not believe it could make a positive contribution through public statements on Hong Kong.

“Obviously Hong Kong is the object of concern for us. Lebanon is a place where we perceive that we can make a positive contribution. We do not perceive that in Hong Kong,” Gallagher said at a Holy See press conference on June 25.

“One can say a lot of, shall we say, appropriate words that would be appreciated by the international press and by many parts of the world, but I — and, I think, many of my colleagues — have yet to be convinced that it would make any difference whatever.”

Human rights activists have urged the Vatican to publicly express its concerns about the actions of the Chinese Communist Party both in mainland China and Hong Kong.

Benedict Rogers, the founder of Hong Kong Watch, told CNA in April that it would make a “big difference” if the pope were to pray publicly for the Uyghurs, Christians in China, and the people of Hong Kong.

“The current pope is particularly outspoken on issues of persecution, injustice, and conflict around the world,” Rogers said.

“He’s been very good on Myanmar [Burma], for example, and so it’s really puzzling why there’s this almost complete silence on everything to do with China, whether it’s the Uyghurs or Hong Kong or Christians or Tibet,” he added.

Archbishop Gallagher, the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, has repeatedly said that he believes that “grandstanding” statements would be counter-productive.

He told Hong Kong’s The Standard newspaper on March 25: “I think you will find it true that the Holy See does not have a policy, a diplomatic policy, of denunciation almost anywhere in the world, and there are human rights abuses in many, many countries.”

His most recent comments on Hong Kong come just days ahead of the U.S. Secretary of State’s scheduled visit to Vatican City. Anthony Blinken is expected to meet with senior Holy See officials.

The State Department has said that religious freedom and the climate crisis will be central topics in the meetings.

Blinken voiced concerns with Chinese officials on June 11 about the “deterioration of democratic norms in Hong Kong and the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang,” according to the State Department.

China was a major focus of the most recent visit of the previous U.S. Secretary of State to the Vatican, immediately before which Secretary Mike Pompeo said that the “moral witness” of the Vatican in support of religious believers is sorely needed.

“The Holy See has a unique capacity and duty to focus the world’s attention on human rights violations, especially those perpetrated by totalitarian regimes like Beijing’s. In the late twentieth century, the Church’s power of moral witness helped inspire those who liberated central and eastern Europe from communism,” Pompeo wrote in an essay in First Things in September.

“That same power of moral witness should be deployed today with respect to the Chinese Communist Party,” he said.

Chinese mainland authorities have seized greater power in Hong Kong, after the imposition of a national security law on the region in 2020.

Last month, Pope Francis appointed a new bishop of Hong Kong, Fr. Stephen Chow Sau-yan, 周守仁, whose episcopal consecration is scheduled to take place in December.

Bishop-elect Chow has said that he believes that prudence and dialogue provide a way forward in the challenges facing his diocese.

At the Vatican press conference, Gallagher added: “We hope that the new bishop is going to do a lot of good work as well.”

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  1. A complete cop-out. The Vatican should speak up regardless; it matters to the people, but they continue to bow to China. Sad.

    • The Vatican may as well pack up and go home. It has wasted its moral capital on ambiguity and pursual of a global syncretistic sanctuary of UN sustainable development goals. Refusing to use what little authority they retain will deplete that too. Nihilism seems to be its endgame. May God have mercy.

  2. It might make a difference to those fighting for freedom and human rights in Hong Kong, not to mention Catholics who have to live under this regime. Maybe they’d like to know the Vatican supports them.

    Alas, it seems these people don’t enter into the Vatican’s calculus at all. As the old saying goes, “with friends like these…”

  3. Of course, China has the money and the McCarrick plan. The steepling Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher knows he has the power. However, the Vatican has no qualms about stirring around in our USA soup.

    Pompeo has it correct: “…the Church’s power of moral witness helped inspire those who liberated central and eastern Europe from communism”

    “That same power of moral witness should be deployed today with respect to the Chinese Communist Party,” he said.

  4. Obviously, the Vatican thinks its statements on immigration, “climate change” and capital punishment can make a difference. They do – and for the worse. The truth is that Francis, Parolin and this Gallagher are quite satisfied with Communist China and the deal they struck with it. I have it on good authority that the CCP implements Church social teaching better than anyone else.

  5. The Francis Vatican also must realize the futility of resisiting abortion and the homosexual agenda. That has to be why we heard nothing from them after the Obergefell decision in the US and during and after the campaigns to legalize homosexual unions in Italy and abortion in Ireland and Argentina. I appreciate the good archbishop shedding some light on the mentalitiy of our leaders.

  6. His Excellency” Gallagher is the quintessential careerist fraud of the decadent and spiritually malignant Secretariat of State.

    The same Secretariat of State that presided over the 50-year long, world-wide coverup of homosexual predation and abuse, in its capacity as “lead investigator” of sex abuse cases, until I believe 2001, when then-Cardinal Ratzinger finally persuaded Pope JP2 that The Secretariat of State was failing to pursue justice.

    There is perfect symmetry between their refusal to give witness against the tyranny of the Chinese Communist Party, and their criminal negligence in sex abuse investigations, and it is all summed up in Bishop Gallagher’s very own words: “I — and, I think, many of my colleagues — have yet to be convinced that it would make any difference whatever” …to do or say anything.

    Well, I assume the Bishop is well fed…

    • Thank you for pointing out the connection. …as he sits behind his desk in perfect comfort, assured of a comfortable bed and no one will police him at night, no fear of being arrested.

  7. Archbishop Paul Gallagher, and people who agree with him on China, should remember the end of Player Piano, Kurt Vonnegut’s 1952 dystopian novel in which the U.S. has conquered the globe at the price of adoption of a social credit totalitarianism. At the end the leaders of a failed revolution are discussing it:

    “You thought we were going to lose?” said Paul husily.
    “Certainly,” said Lasher, looking at him as though Paul had said something idiotic.
    “If we didn’t have a chance, then what on earth was the sense of-?”
    “It doesn’t matter if we win or lose, Doctor. The important thing is that we tried. For the record, we tried.”
    “What record?”
    “Revolutions aren’t my main line of business,” said Lasher, his voice deep and rolling. “I’m a minister, Doctor, remember? First and last, I’m an enemy of the Devil, a man of God!”

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