What will the letter say?
Is this one of those times when we will see the Vatican perform its usual act of feel-good diplomacy? Or is it possible that this in fact could be a real example of Benedict's call of a smaller Church, dedicated to its core beliefs?
As I've said again and again here, the PRC is not to be trusted. The Communists and their Patriotic Association lackeys have done nothing to earn any kind of special compromises. They arrest bishops, priests and laity. People disappear into the bamboo gulag forever. Cardinal Zen has written the preface to a collection of writings by various Chinese martyrs. He recounts one episode from his hometown:
The most relevant episode happened on the tragic day of September 8, 1955, when police conducted a gigantic raid, arresting hundreds of Catholics - from the bishop to priests, from catechists to members of the faithful belonging to [religious] associations, above all the Legion of Mary. They were brought to the dog racing stadium, where the bishop, the heroic Ignatius Gong Pinmei - created a cardinal in pectore in 1979, while he was still in prison - instead of renouncing the faith, cried out amid the distress of the Catholics huddled there and the disdain of the guards: “Long live Christ the King, long live the pope!”
In mainland China, all suffer for Christ. Countless martyrs have died and will die before the political landscape of the PRC is changed for the better. The question is will some kind of detente between the Holy See and the PRC help or hurt?
Let us ask this question instead...
The Red Chinese agree to give the Holy See final say over ordinations, which is allegedly the key sticking point. In return, the Pope plans on visiting at the time of the Olympics in 2008. Between then and now, the Red Chinese go on with persecuting others, Christians of other churches, Falun Gong, political dissidents.
Has in this hypothetical the situation of Chinese Catholics been helped or hurt?