An Oasis in the Sahara

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An Oasis in the SaharaEditor’s Note: Taiwan is constantly pressured to yield to Communist China. Today, this is most evident in the economic sphere. Therefore, it is fitting to recall the words of the Taiwanese bishops in 1979. These words ring prophetic as to the intrinsic evil of all communist regimes.

We are reprinting Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira’s article “An Oasis in the Sahara,” since it describes very well the continuing Western blindness in face of communist regimes.

Those who promote red China and other communist countries attempt to mask the crimes which are so well denounced here with the pastoral simplicity of the true language of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Would that we had more such voices today.


Lying before me is a document dated, March 20, 1979, that I consider the most beautiful joint pastoral letter published since the time of Pius XII. I first saw it in a copy of the magazine Cristianita (Piacneza, Italy, Oct. 1979), which transcribed it from La Documentation Catholique (8-19-79). It is signed by Archbishop Matthew Kia Yen-Wen, of Taipei, Archbishop Joseph Kuo, of Salamina and nine other bishops and prelates of Taiwan. The moment I read it, I felt obliged to write a summary.

I soaked up this limpid and crystalline text like a traveler in the Sahara – as the well-known figure has it – would drink from a generous spring found in an unexpected oasis. I was thirsting to hear bishops of the Holy Church take such a princely and gallant pastoral attitude in the face of Communism. In this epoch of cowardly omissions and cunningly defeatist or even cynically collaborationist attitudes, it is remarkably refreshing to hear the bishops of a whole nation speak like this in unison!

Is this letter really that beautiful?

Yes and no. No because it does not possess literary genius. Yes, because with elevated, nobly serene, attractive and clear language, the bishops of Taiwan have done something incomparably greater than a literary work. They have spoken with pastoral simplicity, the true language of Our Lord Jesus Christ. What could be greater than that?

These prelates describe their situation: the whole West has withdrawn its ambassadors from Taiwan and American forces no longer guarantee the coast of the island against aggression from Communist China. All that remains is for China to leap upon its defenseless victim. This in turn would provoke a discreet word of agreement and even applause from some Western leaders. Although this applause might be rare and weak, certain centrist media are prepared to emphasize it.

This applause rings particularly loudly in face of the religious fraud with which communists deceive the conventionally-minded, as evidenced in Poland.1 Nevertheless, every communist regime is pernicious and usurping. The mere fact that it denies the family and private property makes it diametrically opposed to the Natural Order and the Law of God. As such, it is intrinsically illegitimate and irremediably disastrous.

In face of all this, there are attitudes that man is ashamed (or afraid) to take. Although even a crypto-communist clergyman or a leftist capitalist is ready to sell everything to enrich himself a bit, an agreement which would abandon Taiwan to the final communist onslaught has not yet been made. Still, the few who pay attention to this dramatic scene remain unsure. When will the invasion come? Will the assault be brutal or deceptive? What connivances will aid it? What monarch or cardinal will the victor invite to visit the island and prove that the aggression found diplomatic complicity in the West on thrones or even next to the altars?

At this tragic moment of suspense, behold the voice of the Taiwanese bishops, which addresses “the bishops of the whole world, Christians and all men who love justice” with these main points:

“Like most of the other governments that have recognized Peking, the United States has declared that ‘Taiwan is a part of China.’ By this ambiguous affirmation the ‘Taiwan question’ has become ‘an Internal matter’ of China, whose only recognized government is that of Peking. Our people (17 million of them) are thus handed over, against their will, to the mercy of a totalitarian regime that they abominate.

“For our part, we refuse to become human cattle, puppets of a false ideology that we reject.

“The western press is now echoing a ‘democratization’ in the Peking regime. Our experience, closer to the events, reminds us that such movements regularly appear on the Chinese mainland and indicate a stricter repression. They are undertaken in the line of Hegelian dialectics, and always aim to increase the regime’s domination over the people.

“The process (of ‘democratization’) will last just as long as necessary to keep public opinion from being excessively shocked so that it will not react. Once it is underway, it will prove irreversible.”

“Initially, they ask us innocently to dialogue. A sad and already long experience shows us that this ‘dialogue’ inevitably leads to total and unconditional servitude.

“Can one honestly close one’s eyes to what took place in every one of the countries of Eastern Europe after the Second World War? Can one honestly forget Vietnam, where the most solemn agreements guaranteed by the great powers were cast aside one after the other until the final fall of a people who refused to submit to the ideology of a minority? Can one ignore the fact that the inhabitants of that region, who had heroically borne thirty years of horrible and inhuman war, are incapable of bearing the oppression of this ideology and at the very risk of their lives are fleeing from the land of their fathers in hundreds of thousands?

“Our own national experience, repeated six times over, proves abundantly to us that to open the doors, even a bit, to the dialogue that they are asking for once again, is in brief, to hand ourselves over with our hands and feet bound to an unscrupulous interlocutor.

“In the coming months, ‘fraternal gestures’ await us. Perhaps they will go so far as to ‘ask our assistance’ for the modernization of the motherland. The purpose of these gestures is to destroy us if we accept them and to turn opinion against us if we refuse them.

“If we accept the contact, they will take advantage of it to erode us by sowing tares among us. If we don’t accept it, that will be the ‘proof’ that we are not reasonable, that we refuse the extended hand, and that the only solution is to subdue us by force.

“How will public opinion, with its short-lived memory, grasp this infinitely subtle and perverse ploy? In the first case, they will not consider us worthy to be defended, since we did not come to an understanding among ourselves. In the second case, they will say that we are reaping what we ourselves have sown, since we are so little prone to conciliation.

“We address all of our brothers of the episcopate. As successors of the Apostles, Our Lord has entrusted you with a universal responsibility. Do not permit a part of mankind, however small it may seem to you, to be handed over to a condition of mental and spiritual slavery unworthy of men created by God and saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. We are in the hands of God and also in those of our brothers.

“Whatever the result of this initiative of ours may be, whatever the destiny that men have in store for us, we know that nothing can prevent Our Lord’s victory over evil.”


1. This refers to the Polish Communist’s pretended “tolerance” of Catholicism, current to the article’s first publishing.

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