Not a day goes by without AsiaNews publishing reports of the Pope's homilies, speeches, audiences, summaries of encyclicals.
among the fastest agencies to offer what the Pope teaches on-line with
translations into Italian, Chinese, Spanish and English.
Indians, Latin Americans are grateful for the speed with which they can
access the Pope’s words, particularly since the official sites are too
We chose to offer this service, which occupies us every day, even
on Sundays, to help the Churches in Asia to receive the words of the
Pope as soon as possible. We did this with Pope John Paul II, Benedict
XVI and now with Pope Francis.
This service is especially useful to Chinese Catholics.
And since the AsiaNews
site is sometimes blocked by the Beijing authorities, we have been
given the go ahead to another, more anonymous, website titled
"Ascoltiamo Papa Francesco.net"
But this fact matters little to us:
"provided that Christ be announced" as Saint Paul says. (Philippians 1,
Given this experience, we are very sorry - for their lie, rather than for ourselves - that two Vatican experts have cited AsiaNews
among "those Catholics who are against Francis and worship Putin."
Because both statements, regarding the Pope and Putin, are false. I'm
not here to list proof of this: all anyone has to do is actually read
the articles we write. For us it is a point of honor - and
professionalism – never to comment on what we like most about the powers
that be, but all aspects, be they complex or contradictory, of a given
event. This, for us, means being of service to the truth.
With regards China, while we exalt its achievements in space and its
progress among the great powers of the world, we do not forget the
problems of pollution or the Dalai Lama, who for us is almost like a
migrant, an exile, similar to those many exiles and migrants Pope
Francis embraced in Lampedusa.
Equally so on questions regarding the Catholic Church, while we
report on Pope Francis enthusiasm towards Xi Jinping, we can not forgo
reporting on the deep sorrow that the silence regarding persecution is
causing among underground Christians. Because this regards an estimated 5
million people who for decades have given their lives - sometimes even
their blood - for the Gospel and who now, suddenly, have disappeared
from public concerns.
In the article in question, an academic among the most optimistic
regarding dialogue between China and the Vatican – I remember that in
2005, after the death of John Paul II, he had predicted that a
diplomatic agreement would be signed, one that we still await with faith
and hope - well, this "super-optimist" says that we are "allied" with
"Hong Kong environments, sectors in the US and European right" to push
Pope Francis to favor religious freedom over the unity of the Church in
China. This opinion, in our view, is unfounded: we have never received
visits or awards from a US president or Secretary of State, nor
European. But perhaps the super-optimistic academic meant – at most –
that we often publish articles by Card. Joseph Zen, who is as concerned
about the fate of underground Christians as we are. If I were Pope
Francis I would appreciate my Cardinals telling me about the problems
that these Christian suffer who are ... very much on the peripheries,
the face of the suffering Christ, part of my flock for which I have to
give my life.
Unfortunately Pope Francis has few friends of this caliber. He does
not even have them amongst expert Vatican journalists. And in fact, my
greatest pain is to see the blacklist drawn up in that article: that
site, that journalist, that priest, the bishop, the cardinal. I wonder
what it's for, and I fear it is being used to divide, thanks to the
unguarded work of these coryphaei who are self-appointed "infallible
interpreters" of the pope, and defenders of the pope.
When Pope Francis rose to the papacy, it was clear that he wanted to
actuate the Second Vatican Council (as he says in his encyclicals). For
this it was necessary (and is still necessary) to unite, to dialogue and
find a common way among so-called Catholic "conservatives" and
"progressives", whose division is one of the nastiest wounds that we
have been carrying around for decades.
If you listen to everything Pope
Francis actually says, then you realize that he really is a Pope of
tradition in development, above the "hermeneutic of rupture" typical of
conservatives and progressives. Unfortunately it seems that the two
parties - also thanks to the secular media – are driving their divisions
deeper and hardening their stance even more. It is the Pope’s task, as
the symbol of unity of the Church, to work to repair this. It is the
task of expert Vatican journalists to outline how this work is
progressing. I have no comment on this desire to hand down judgements on
who is good and who is bad.
My advice, if you really want to help Pope Francis, is to support his
position of dialogue – which is something we would also like to see
among the "souls" of the Church in China – drawing out the shred of
truth which the Spirit - as our Pope always says – also instills in
Muslims, Jews, Hindus ... let alone we Christians.
This work of dialogue with the most distant positions is all the more
urgent because of the abyss of secularization and indifference that is
engulfing the world. The world believes if the Church is united ( "that
all may be one so that the world may believe," says the Gospel of John).
This is what should concern us - right and left in the Church – rather
than being seen as exhibitionist "superapostles", we should be concerned
about how to interest the world in faith in Jesus. Unfortunately, the
debate among many Christians is now polarized on "for or against the
Pope" and not on the mission to the world. In a similar vein this is
seen in all debate on diplomatic relations with China, and no one is
discussing how to bring the Christian faith to this country that thirsts
for God, before diplomacy.
As for the Pope, the Pope does not need public defenders. First of
all, because he is well "armored": a press office, a television center, a
newspaper, a radio ... But then, especially since Pope Francis himself
said he is not interested in hearing people shout "Long live the Pope!",
he wants to hear "Long live Jesus Christ!". And even if it should be
the case that the Pope is hurt or criticized, it only conforms him even
more to Jesus Christ who was scourged, even struck by his "enemies", but
betrayed by his "friends". You can also betray a person with too much