According to Deutsche Welle:
Pope Francis on Saturday endorsed the legitimacy of seven Chinese bishops, appointed by Beijing without the Vatican's approval.The decision is part of a historic accord between the Catholic Church and China over the nomination of bishops, which is normally a papal prerogative. The issue has strained ties between the two for decades.
In a bid to establish diplomatic relations with China, he agreed to allow the Chinese state, run by atheistic communists, to choose the archbishops to lead the Catholic Church over there in a move that undercuts the underground Catholic Church over there, which has rejected this phony leadership for their faith.
It might not have been a complete capitulation -- he reportedly may have reserved the right to veto any of the Beijing-picked candidates, so I suppose we won't be getting an obvious comrade in a Mao suit spouting slogans. But we will probably get quite a few less obvious ones, Chinese internal intelligence agency informants, and people who subtly undermine the Church teachings itself because of their alignment to the regime.
It's an astonishing betrayal of the millions of Catholics inside China who have carefully carried the torch as the Christian martyrs of ancient Rome once did, underground, risking their lives. They threw such people into the lion's dens back then. Today, they throw them into the lao gai, or Chinese gulags. Yet they are all saints.
And they play an important role to Catholics in free countries. Essentially: If they can walk 20 miles to mass, and hide out from the secret police to bring the sacraments, who am I to miss mass or not perform some act of charity? This is what Catholics think when they consider the underground Church in China.
So to see them abandoned like this, after all their sacrifices to live the faith, only to see Pope Francis allow their enemy to appoint their leaders and lead their church, is horrifying. Can you imagine what they must be saying to each other?
Could there be any greater means of shrinking the Church after an act like that? As Pope John Paul has noted, the Church's fruits in Asia have always been rather meager given the strength of the other faiths. China of course is different, given its communist embrace of enforced atheism, making it rather ripe for converts. Yet the Chinese Church got it all thrown in their faces. It rather resembles Pope Francis's acts in Cuba, where he made common cause with the Castroites, to establish diplomatic relations, and presumably to get some Church schools and masses going, yet also unleashed a huge wave of repression on Cuba's dissidents, particularly the Ladies in White, who have been beaten by Cuba's goons as they walked to mass and went into the churches.
The, uh, 'social justice' teachings of the Church don't seem to apply in these cases, because the Church leadership has been dead silent.
And that is what this comes down to: leadership. Who picks the bishops picks the Church leadership. Putting Beijing's men in pretty well puts some in line to become cardinals, which in turn puts them in line to voting for the next pope. The implications of that are staggering.
What's more, it's part of a pattern. The pope has been roundly criticized for abandoning the Uniate Catholics of Ukraine in the interest of good relations with Moscow, and the persecuted Christians of the Middle East in the interest of good relations with the European ruling class, which favors Muslim immigration to Europe. Tha abandonment of China's Christians, who have carried the torch in silence for so long is extremely hard to stomach. There have been many complaints from Venezuela, too, about the Pope's failure to condemn the socialist starvation policies of Nicolas Maduro, in the interest of good relations with the Chavista government. In all cases, the pope has chosen the state over the people.