CMDA's The Point

Communist Repression, a Secret Vatican Compact and the Universality of Religious Freedom

September 3, 2020

by Jonathan Imbody

If religious organizations kowtow to tyrants at the peril of religious freedom, why should the nonreligious even care?

The Christian Medical & Dental Associations recently joined more than 50 groups concerned with international religious freedom on a joint letter to the Vatican, regarding the Vatican’s pending decision on renewing a two-year-old secret agreement with the Chinese Communist Party:

“We write as an informal coalition of individuals and organizations to call on the Holy See to recognize the serious implications of any agreement with the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese Communist Party’s continuing war on religion is routinely conducted by means of crimes against humanity. We respectfully suggest that exemplary leadership by the Catholic Church is essential to resolving this tragic situation.

“The Chinese authorities have declared their intention to rewrite all religious texts, including the Bible and the Qur’an, to “reflect socialist values” as defined by Chinese Communist Party Secretary Xi JinPing. Not only is the regime committing the ongoing genocide of the Uyghur people, it is also continuing its brutal oppression of Tibetans, Mongolians, citizens of Hong Kong, and all who speak out for human rights including the right of religious believers to practice their faith.

“On September 26, 2018 Pope Francis sent a message to the Catholics of China, saying that the Church’s aim “in the dialogue with civil authorities is that of ‘building a relationship based on mutual respect and deeper understanding’”.

“While the People’s Republic of China has never been truly open to religious practice, in the two years since this message the attitude of authorities in China toward religious freedom has deteriorated significantly.

“…We therefore implore the Holy See not to cede the Beijing government any control over the Church in China. We respectfully request that the Holy See not renew its agreement with the People’s Republic of China at least until such time as the authorities discontinue their campaign of genocide, crimes against humanity, and other grave human rights violations against religious believers.” 

The Vatican’s Faustian secret compact with China and the scandalous silence of Pope Francis regarding the plight of several Catholics who by contrast courageously stand against the tyrannical Chinese Communist Party raises a fair question: If religious organizations kowtow to tyrants at the peril of religious freedom, why should the non-religious even care?

We should all care about religious freedom, because at its heart is our freedom to believe and behave according to our deepest held beliefs. Every one of us depends upon that freedom to live our lives according to our conscientious principles.

America’s First Amendment by no accident pairs religious freedom with freedoms of speech, the press, assembly and petitioning the government. That’s because once a government intrudes on any one of these freedoms, none of the other freedoms remains safe. Witness China.

The Chinese Communist Party’s jackbooted stomping on freedoms of speech, assembly, the press and religion should give us pause before sanctioning any weakening of these freedoms in our own country—even when such suppression might advance our own convictions regarding abortion, marriage, gender issues or any other matter of belief and conscience.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”


About Jonathan Imbody

Jonathan previously served as CMDA's Federal Policy Analyst and as CMDA's liaison with the federal government in Washington, D.C. A veteran writer of more than 30 years, Jonathan authored Faith Steps, which encourages and equips Christians to engage in public policy issues. He has published more than 100 commentaries in The Washington Post, USA Today, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Sun-Times and many other national publications. Jonathan's writing focuses on public policy issues including freedom of faith, conscience and speech; human trafficking; abortion; assisted suicide; stem cell research; the role of faith in health; international health; healthcare policy; sexual risk avoidance and HIV/AIDS. Jonathan received his bachelor's degree in journalism and speech communications from the Pennsylvania State University, a master's degree from Penn State in counseling and education and a certificate in biblical and theological studies from the Alliance Theological Seminary in New York. Jonathan's wife Amy is an author and leads the Redemptive Education movement. They have four children and four grandchildren.


  1. Avatar Daryl Erickson on October 6, 2020 at 3:09 pm

    Right on!!!

  2. Avatar John Crouch on October 6, 2020 at 3:23 pm


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