Bishop Sorondo: China best implements Catholic social doctrine

Bishop Sorondo
Vatican Bishop and chancellor Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, speaks during a master conference in the framework of the XII International Meeting of Economists, on March 1, 2010 in Havana. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo is chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. While the non-socialist Pope John Paul II established the Academy in 1994, it has taken a clear turn to the left since then, especially since Francis has been Pope.

For example, readers may recall that Bernie Sanders spoke at a Vatican conference in April 2016, during the Democratic primary.

It was Bishop Sorondo who invited him.

In addition to Sanders, the conference included speakers such as:

  • President Evo Morales of Bolivia;
  • President Rafael Correa of Ecuador; and
  • Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, who wrote the book “Challenge of Inequality“.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that one who feels comfortable in the company of prominent socialists would appreciate the policies of a socialist country.

And yet, one would hardly expect a Catholic bishop to praise the policies of a nominally-Communist government as being aligned with Catholic teaching.

The Catholic Herald reports:

The chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences praised the ‘extraordinary’ Communist state.

“Right now, those who are best implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese,” a senior Vatican official has said.

Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, praised the Communist state as “extraordinary”, saying: “You do not have shantytowns, you do not have drugs, young people do not take drugs”. Instead, there is a “positive national conscience”.

The bishop told the Spanish-language edition of Vatican Insider that in China “the economy does not dominate politics, as happens in the United States, something Americans themselves would say.”

Bishop Sánchez Sorondo said that China was implementing Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’ better than many other countries and praised it for defending Paris Climate Accord. “In that, it is assuming a moral leadership that others have abandoned”, he added.

He accused US president Donald Trump of being “manipulated” by global oil firms, and said that, as opposed to those who follow “liberal thought”, the Chinese are working for the greater good of the planet.

On the surface, Bishop Sorondo’s claims are a noxious combination of being laughable and pathetic. For example:

  • Notwithstanding Sorondo’s naïve claim, the New York Times reported in 2015 that illegal drug use is quite prominent among Chinese youth;
  • Chinese debt, at all levels of society, are at frightening heights. For example, a recent analysis suggests that “Total Non-Financial Credit” in China is in excess of 328% of GDP. In other words, China is pursuing Keynesian policies similar to other Western countries, including the U.S.
  • With regard to climate change, Climate Action Tracker currently rates China’s plans to meet its commitments under the Paris Climate Accord as “highly insufficient”.

Finally, Sorondo’s premise about who is working “for the greater good” is telling. Like a good Marxist, both classical and cultural, what matters to him is not the effects of people’s actions (notwithstanding the tremendous reduction in poverty since the Industrial Age over 200 years ago), but the reason why a person acts.

At the same time, perhaps there’s another reason why a bishop would sing the praises of an otherwise obnoxious country:

The Vatican and China have been holding talks in recent years over the status of the ‘underground’ Church and the appointment of bishops. In November, the Vatican Museums also organised joint exhibitions with China in what was called “diplomacy of art”.

As part of the diplomacy efforts, Bishop Sánchez Sorondo visited the country. “What I found was an extraordinary China,” he said. “What people don’t realise is that the central value in China is work, work, work. There’s no other way, fundamentally it is like St Paul said: he who doesn’t work, doesn’t eat.”

Bishop Sánchez Sorondo concluded by saying that China is “developing well” and now has “many points of agreement” with the Vatican.

“You cannot think that the China of today is the China of [the time of] John Paul II, or Cold War Russia,” he said.

In other words, Catholic leaders need to pretend that they like the officials running policies that have forced countless abortions (thereby leading to tens of millions of bachelors), closely monitors local internet activity, and lead “anti-corruption” campaigns to clear out enemies of those in power. However, even while saying the right things, it appears that the Vatican is close to rolling over and allowing China to designate local bishops. In fact, the New York Times reports that the Vatican has asked two “underground” bishops to step aside in order for “individuals approved by the country’s authoritarian government” to take their places.

Never mind that the Vatican had previously excommunicated the two government-appointed bishops for being consecrated illicitly.

Like a good schoolboy, Bishop Sorondo is saying what he has to say so that the Vatican can establishes relations with China.

But is the cost worth it?