The Vatican should immediately drop its deal with China following renewed revelations of forced organ harvesting, rape and torture by the communist regime, according to a letter signed by clergy, human rights campaigners and other leading Catholics.
The letter in this week’s Catholic Herald cites a report by the China Tribunal chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, a former prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. The Tribunal found that the Chinese government is conducting a state-run programme of forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience and detailed acts of torture.
According to the letter, these include: “Killing prisoners by the removal of organs, lethal injection and ‘organ harvesting under the pretext of brain death’; Widespread accounts of rape and torture, including harrowingly graphic stories of sexual violence and prisoners being ‘shocked’ with electric rods, with one woman ‘shocked until [she went] blind’; The use of the so-called ‘tiger chair’, a torture device, on Uighur prisoners.”
The letter says Vatican officials have “shamed their office” by backing the Holy See-China deal in face of the mounting evidence of atrocities. In particular, it names Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, the head of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, who asserted that the Chinese government had “accomplished the reform of the organ donation system” and even claimed that “those who are best implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese.”
The letter’s authors also note that the text of the 2018 deal has been kept so secret that not even Cardinal Zen has seen a copy. “That in itself is a scandal,” they write.
The authors include human rights campaigner Benedict Rogers, founder and chairman of Hong Kong Watch, Professor Philip Booth of St Mary’s University, Twickenham, and Dr Joseph Shaw, chairman of the Latin Mass Society.
Late last month, Texas-based NGO ChinaAid reported that the country’s campaign to develop “religion with Chinese characteristics” has increased persecution of Christians.
“Throughout the year, ChinaAid observed escalated instances of religious oppression, driven by the government’s campaign to develop ‘religion with Chinese characteristics’,” the group said in a 53-page report.
Officials in some provinces have ordered the removal of all Christian symbols from buildings and banned under-18s from entering churches. Some have even condemned teaching children to sing hymns as “illegal”.
Government agencies have also banned the sale of unauthorised Bibles and other religious books.
Cardinal Zen has condemned the Vatican-China deal multiple times, describing it as a “shameless surrender”.
Full text of the letter:
SIR – We the undersigned are writing to express our burning anxiety at the Vatican’s treaty with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the light of the China Tribunal’s findings into forced organ harvesting.
The Tribunal was commissioned by the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse – a group of lawyers, academics, medical professionals and human rights advocates – and chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, a former prosecutor at the International Criminal Court.
It found that Beijing’s government is conducting a state-run programme of forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience and detailed acts of torture committed in the course of the programme including:
Killing prisoners by the removal of organs, lethal injection and “organ harvesting under the pretext of brain death”;
Widespread accounts of rape and torture, including harrowingly graphic stories of sexual violence and prisoners being “shocked” with electric rods, with one woman “shocked until [she went] blind”;
The use of the so-called “tiger chair”, a torture device, on Uighur prisoners.
In his submitted evidence, leading human rights lawyer Edward Fitzgerald CBE QC said the treatment of Falun Gong in China could meet the legal definition of genocide.
The Tribunal concluded that such acts constituted crimes against humanity and said it was certain beyond reasonable doubt that they had occurred.
This damning finding echoes that of the US Congressional Executive Committee in 2018 that the mass arbitrary internment of as many as one million or more Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in ‘‘political re-education’’ camps in western China may be the largest incarceration of an ethnic minority population since World War II, and may constitute crimes against humanity.
Despite these recent and present human rights abuses, some Vatican representatives have shamed their office and their Christian profession in their responses to concerns about the Holy See’s 22nd September 2018 provisional agreement with the PRC. In 2018, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, the head of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, asserted that the Chinese government had “accomplished the reform of the organ donation system” and even went on to claim that “those who are best implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese”.
We note that the text of the treaty has been kept so secret that not even Cardinal Zen has actually seen a copy of the agreement. That in itself is a scandal.
The case for opposing the Vatican’s deal with Xi Jinping’s government, which also harasses and detains leading Catholic clergy and destroys Catholic shrines and churches which refuse to join the official “Patriotic Church”, was already formidably strong. Now, it is unarguable. The time has come for the Vatican to rescind its treaty with the PRC and by so doing stand in forthright solidarity with all victims of totalitarian oppression.
John M Barrie
Joanna Bogle DSG
Prof. Philip Booth
Deacon Nick Donnelly
Fr Timothy Finigan
Dr Paul Keeley
Prof. David Paton
Fr David Palmer
Dr Joseph Shaw
Peter D. Williams By email