Sam Gregg takes off the gloves: Bp. Sanchez Sorondo on China

Sam Gregg, director of research at Acton Institute, has a strongly worded piece at Liberty and Law about the seriously bizarre remarks from Argentinian Bp. Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, presently the head of both the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Sorodono Sanchez recently visited China and, subsequently gushed about how wonderful the communist state is and how Catholic social teaching has been implemented there.

Gregg has taken off the gloves.

The whole thing hits hard. Here’s a taste:


Bishop Sanchez’s peculiar ruminations about world affairs are, however, emblematic of how concern for precision and facts seems to have disappeared throughout much of the Vatican over the past five years. One need only recall the notorious 2017 Civiltà Cattolica article penned by Father Antonio Spadaro, S.J. and Rev. Marcelo Figueroa: a piece which even some of its defenders conceded contained substantive errors about the history of religion in the United States and the role played by Evangelicals and conservative Catholics in American politics.

It doesn’t help the Holy See’s reputation to have some Vatican officials parading their fact-free, strikingly incoherent views of the world on the public stage. Bishop Sanchez’s claim that China is somehow one of the world’s leading exponents of Catholic social doctrine is frankly outrageous. It is also insulting to those Catholics and other Christians who have suffered so much for their faith under what is, after all, a regime that remains ideologically committed to atheistic materialism. In any organization that took reality and its own credibility seriously, such remarks would likely result in such a person being formally, if not publicly rebuked by more senior officials and perhaps even removed from office.


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  1. richiedel says:

    It is also worth noting that, as the Holy Father has taken his name after St. Francis, this saint would not be pleased with China’s dog farms.

  2. ThePapalCount says:

    The great majority of Catholic people know that this bishop is a loon. However, we all carry on living and practicing our Catholic Faith and ever strive to “know, love and serve God in this world so as to be with him in the next.” We continue to be faithful Catholics as best we can and pray earnestly for those who seem to be off the rails.

  3. Toan says:

    I prayed 9 memorares (a la St. Mother Teresa) for Bp. Sorondo, that he may grow in holiness, that his mind may be renewed as to see and recognize what is truthful, and that his Vatican post may be filled by someone well-suited to the job.

    It is REALLY SAD that comments so spectacular in their absurdity would come from the head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. It is equally sad that one would place him in such a position.

  4. Antonin says:

    The problem with this article is that the Pope and Vatican are moving quickly towards a detente with China in terms of selection on bishops.

    Cardinal Zen is critical of the overtures but nonetheless the movement from the Vatican is decidedly in the direction of some kind of accommodation between the Patriotic association and the “underground” church

    I had a close friend who was Chinese (and not a Communist) and culturally they are all about saving face….and if everyone can save face all the better

    Columns like Gregg’s do not advance that objective – and furthermore is out of step with current Vatican policy

  5. Ave Maria says:

    What do you think Ven. Fulton Sheen would say about this embracing of communism?

  6. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    I don’t foresee Pope Francis disciplining this bishop over his ahistoricity any more than Francis will discipline German bishops over their heresy.

    “Strengthening the brethren” isn’t exactly Pope Francis’s strong point, sadly.

  7. cpt-tom says:

    My wife was born in Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution. She was baptized by her mother, because all the loyal Catholic priests were imprisoned. One of her uncles, a member of the Legion of Mary, was arrested and imprisoned in a Labor Camp for 30 years because he would not denounce the Pope. Her other uncle, a college Catholic Activist, was arrested, beaten by the secret police and imprisoned for several years. He later became a priest in the USA after he was able to emigrate. Her aunt ran supplies to the underground church well into her eighties. They gladly sacrificed their comfort, safety, and their lives for the sake of the Church. This Bp. Sorondo spits on their sacrifice. I pray for his enlightenment and atonement for this naive and evil comments.

  8. e.e. says:

    Just today, this appeared in the Catholic Herald, reporting that minors are now banned from even entering churches in China:

  9. tamranthor says:

    Much like leading Congressional Democrats, the Vatican seems to live in its own little world, entirely divorced from reality. They seem to believe that if you say something three times, it is true. No right thinking person could imagine that a regime that forcibly aborts its own children can possibly be considered a good example of anything, let alone Catholicism. I am put in mind of the smackdown by Bishop Sin of the recent proclamations by the Holy See regarding the Patriotic Catholic Church of Red China.

    I can nearly see the Vatican folk covering their ears and saying “nanananana” so as not to be exposed to the truth.

    This is the problem with letting politics interfere with religion. It never ends well.

  10. msc says:

    This angers (and disgusts) me in so many ways. St. John Paul II, pray for us (and your successor)!

  11. PM says:

    It’s tempting to speculate that Bishop Sanchez Sorondo’s trip wasn’t instigated by anti-Bergolian elements in the Curia, figuring he would come back with something like this, as a way to derail the impending deal between Beijing and the Holy See. I doubt that Cardinal Parolin is pleased.

  12. tamranthor says:

    My take on the apparent weakness of Bishop Sanchez Sorondo is that Pope Francis prefers to keep weak and ineffectual people around him, so that he may dominate them and manipulate them to do his bidding without resistance.

    The mark of a true, good leader is that the leader will surround himself with intelligent and energetic people who will make that leader better than he would be alone.

    This is not what I see from Pope Francis, whom my son has called “Cranky Frankie.” Apparently, an 11 year old can be fairly perceptive, if not very respectful. Still, we pray for him and his intentions, no matter how poorly thought out or phrased. I have impressed upon my son that Jesus never told us to agree 100% with our Bishops, only to pray for them and obey them. With this one, my son is learning a tough lesson indeed.

  13. chantgirl says:

    I can only imagine being a Chinese Catholic wife, trying to follow the Church’s teaching on contraception, possibly having been forced to abort by the government, only to watch my Church hand me and all of my friends over to the government who forcibly killed my child, possibly sterilized me against my will, arrested my priests and sent them for torture or brainwashing, bulldozed my church, raided prisoners of conscience for their organs, and is now forbidding me to send any of my children to Mass.

    I can only imagine the despair and rage that these underground Catholics must be experiencing.

    If the Vatican has now decided to rehabilitate the excommunicated Chinese bishops and essentially hand over the Church in China to a govt which is seriously at odds with Church teaching and persecutes its Catholic citizens, what reason could possibly be given for stalling a reconciliation with the SSPX? Illicit ordinations and differences of opinion about teachings of the Church? No big deal now. Please note that I have never been associated with the SSPX, but am sympathetic to their plight, and can only see the appeasement of the Chinese communists as a huge slap in the face to both the Chinese Catholics and to the SSPX who are still out in the cold. Seriously, cooperate with communist tyrants, but ice out real Catholics?

    Why is it that everyone but the Vatican can see this deal for what it really is- a chance for the communists in China to try to eradicate Catholicism from the country? Are we dealing with the incompetent, the diabolical, or both?

  14. Kathleen10 says:

    Antonin, good God, what are you saying, it is more important to save face than to speak the truth, when the truth is obvious to any Catholic with a molecule of discernment? I hope you did not intend to say that, that would be an outrageous statement to make in light of what the Chinese are suffering and will suffer thanks to what has already been stupidly said of China. If you meant it, I urge you to do the research and see the human rights abuses of China.
    I thank Mr. Gregg sincerely for addressing this unbelievable turn of events. Every week it is a new horror, and here is Horror #875, third or fourth one this week. Which is worse, the Barros/CDF debacle, which is hitting the fan right now, or throwing the Chinese to the wolves. Don’t bother trying to decide, tomorrow will bring something else from Rome, and crickets from every quarter that matters.

  15. Benedict Joseph says:

    It is testimonies such as that contributed by cpt-tom that break my heart each time I come across reports of this outrageous diplomatic action by the Vatican. His story is merely one of millions. This event bespeaks loudly and boldly the culture of secular materialism which has invaded the Church and has nurtured a sense of betrayal and the contaminant of distrust which accompanies it.

  16. GregB says:

    Weren’t the actions of Pope Francis in Cuba a sellout of the Cuban dissidents? From what I’ve read so far, it seems like the underground Church in China is being given the same treatment as the Cuban dissidents.

  17. cpt-tom says:

    It seems that the Holy Father isn’t down with the oppressed like his press releases say. Actions speak much louder, and clearer, than words. Some of the recent moves of the Chinese Government to total control of the populous, it should have been a red pill moment moment for Him and the rest of the curia, instead, they drank the kool-aid. St Michael pray for us. St Francis Xavier pray for China.

  18. Semper Gumby says:

    “I could go on about the unending parade of leftist notables through the Pontifical academies since 2013…It’s also worth noting that all of this goes hand-in-hand with some bizarre and badly uninformed views of the United States.” – Dr. Gregg

    Prominent in the Catholic Church’s stained-glass window should be the Gospel, the Salvation of Souls, the Sacraments, Pope Leo XIII and St. Michael’s Prayer, the 1937 encyclical of Pius XI against Communism, the cooperation between John Paul II and Ronald Reagan, ad orientem, and so forth. All as signposts along the way to the City of God.

    In the City of Man one can already find plenty of lurid neon signs hawking secular wares; vulgar slogans shouted by disturbed social justice warriors and social scientists; and barbarian NGOs.

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