Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Myanmar, president of Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference (FABC), has made an unprecedented criticism of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), blaming its “criminal negligence” for the new coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
“But there is one government that has primary responsibility for what it has done and what it has failed to do, and that is the CCP regime in Beijing,” the Burmese prelate said in a statement published by several Catholic news media organizations.
“This regime (CCP) is responsible, through its criminal negligence and repression, for the pandemic,” Bo said.
“Through its inhumane and irresponsible handling of the coronavirus,” he added, “the CCP has proven what many previously thought: that it is a threat to the world.”
French theologian-anthropologist Michel Chambon criticized the “bellicose” statement of Cardinal Bo, saying it was “filled with inaccuracy, partisanship and offensiveness.”
In an article on United Catholic News, Chambon said that by “insulting the [communist] regime,” Cardinal Bo was “also spitting in the face of the nation that supports it.”
But retired Hong Kong Archbishop Cardinal Joseph Zen Twitted his “Support!”
A leading critic of the CCP and supporter of the Hong Kong prodemocracy riots, Zen is a Salesian priest like Cardinal Bo.
Both were in the Philippines in 2016 during the 51st International Eucharistic Congress hosted by the Archdiocese of Cebu. Cardinal Bo was the legate sent by Pope Francis to represent him.
Cardinal Bo was only recently elected as president of FABC, which groups the heads of various episcopal conferences across Asia. While the Hong Kong and Macau dioceses are associate members, no Chinese diocese is represented in FABC.
In his statement, the Myanmar cardinal said he was not blaming the Chinese people but the communist regime.
“Let me be clear—it is the CCP that has been responsible, not the people of China… they were the first victims of this virus and have long been the primary victims of their repressive regime.
“But it is the repression, the lies and the corruption of the CCP that are responsible.”
Had the CCP acted responsibly and early to thwart the outbreak, the prelate pointed out, the number of affected would have been reduced by at least 66 percent, citing an epidemiological study by the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom.
“Its (CCP’s) failure has unleashed a global contagion killing thousands,” Cardinal Bo declared.
The Cardinal listed a series of failures by the communist regime in addressing the crisis. He said communist authorities suppressed the news and silenced whistleblowers. They also refused initial offers of help from the international community and later conducted misinformation campaign on the origins of the virus.
“Lies and propaganda have put millions of lives around the world in danger,” Bo said.
He said through its “inhumane and irresponsible handling of the coronavirus” the Chinese communist regime “has proven what many previously thought: That it is a threat to the world.”Cardinal Bo said the CCP acted the way it did because of its “repressive nature.”
“The CCP’s conduct is symptomatic of its increasingly repressive nature,” he said. “In recent years, we have seen an intense crackdown on freedom of expression in China. Lawyers, bloggers, dissidents and civil society activists have been rounded up and have disappeared.”
“In particular, the regime has launched a campaign against religion, resulting in the destruction of thousands of churches and crosses and the incarceration of at least one million Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps,” he added.
“And Hong Kong, once one of Asia’s most open cities, has seen its freedoms, human rights and the rule of law dramatically eroded.”
The CCP “owes us all an apology and compensation for the destruction it has caused,” Cardinal Bo said. “As a minimum, it should write off the debts of other countries to cover the cost of Covid-19. For the sake of our common humanity, we must not be afraid to hold this regime to account.”
On Divine Mercy Sunday on April 19, Cardinal Bo said the pandemic posed a “big challenge to our faith.”
“Our planet is wounded. Wounded by a virus—not visible to the eyes,” the cardinal said. “The evil virus has prevented public grieving. Thousands are buried unwept, unsung in unmarked graves. Even those of living cannot live together. Humanity’s oneness remains broken.”
The cardinal noted the coronavirus has attacked everyone: “Neither the rich or the poor, neither this race or that race escaped the wrath of this virus.” INQ