Thursday, January 9, 2020

“Why destroy their faith?”: What the Asian woman said to Pope Francis before he slapped her




Everyone has seen the video. On January 1st an Asian Catholic woman got hold of Pope Francis’ hand and made a desperate plea. The Holy Father did not appreciate his hand being yanked, and began slapping her hand to free himself.

The Catholic world immediately fell into a tussle adjudicating this event. Who was in the wrong—the Holy Father (who has since apologized for his impatience) or the zealous woman who wanted so desperately to communicate with him?

My own take is that both were in the wrong. And that the pope’s security detail was remiss. But this is not what concerns me here. Because for me, an American Catholic living in Asia, something has been glaringly missing from this story from the start. Namely: What was the woman’s plea?

Indeed, why has the Western Catholic press shown itself more or less indifferent to what this woman was saying? If the same thing happened with a Western man speaking unclearly, and the pope ended by slapping him, I believe a key part of the story would be finding out what the man’s message was. There would have been serious attempts from the start to interpret the man’s words. But with this Asian Catholic woman, hardly anyone is interested.

And let’s face it. The question is answerable. The audio recording is not that bad. To go by the woman’s demeanor, tone and body language, it is clear she is distraught. She is making a plea, and knows her behavior is confrontational. With so much Catholic academic expertise spread across the globe, we should be able to interpret her words, no?

I’ve spent some time on this, and may have partly solved the mystery. Some background: I’m a Mandarin speaker, with long experience listening to Chinese speakers’ communication in both English and Chinese. So I recognized right away that the woman is not speaking Chinese. She’s also not speaking Cantonese, the main language of Hong Kong. I’ve also verified with a Japanese linguist that it’s not Japanese, and (more or less) verified that it’s not Korean either.

In the end I concluded, and most others agree, that the woman is speaking heavily accented English. As is typical for many whose native language is Chinese, she’s not very clear on the consonants. Which presents the main challenge. But after listening repeatedly to various versions of the audio, some slowed down, I think I may have the basics.

And so: The woman crosses herself in preparation. Then she sees that the pope is turning away and will not in fact greet her. She seizes his hand and says:

Why destroy their faith? Why destroy the Chinese? [Look for] the Chinese [feelings]. [Talk] to me!

I’ve put the words I’m least confident of in brackets. And yes, it is very hard to follow her. Here is a link courtesy of Fr. John Zuhlsdorf with the audio at various speeds.

Why does this plea make sense? There are two levels. First, the dire situation of the Chinese Church.

Many Chinese Catholics, who have long remained faithful to our popes in defiance of communist authorities, have been thrown into despair over the Vatican’s recent “secret deal” with Beijing. They feel they’ve been thrown under the bus so that the Vatican can make diplomatic headway with Beijing, and they see this new Vatican diplomacy as part of a misguided and un-Catholic attempt to make the Church into something like a semi-religious United Nations. Perhaps the most serious spokesperson for China’s Catholics, Hong Kong’s Cardinal Joseph Zen, fully agrees with this Catholic critique. Deeply hurt by Pope Francis’ policy toward China and by the personal rebuffs he has received, Cardinal Zen has just recently reached out to other cardinals.

Myself, as a China watcher and Catholic, I also have been horrified by the details of the Vatican’s pandering to China’s communists. Consider the seriously under-reported story of Francis’ envoy kowtowing to the human rights atrocity that is China’s organ harvesting business.

So the woman’s plea makes sense in this context of Vatican relations with China’s Catholics.

But what about linguistically? This is the second element that needs explaining.

Of course it is very common for those who haven’t mastered a second language to use phraseology typical of their native language. In this case, the English words spoken by the woman would seem strange to English speakers, but would reflect usages in Chinese. It’s what we call “Chinglish”.

Does my interpretation of her English speech match up with what a Chinese speaker might think/say in Chinese? I believe it does, more or less.

Here, again, is my transcription:

Why destroy their faith? Why destroy the Chinese? Look for the Chinese feelings. Talk to me!

And here is the Chinese that this English might represent:

為何打擊他們的信仰?為何摧毀中國信徒?傾聽中國信徒的感受!請說明!

I will go through the elements, sparing you as much as possible the actual Chinese.

1) “Why destroy their faith?” This seems self-evident. Yes, a betrayal from the pope himself—namely the very authority in whom generations of Chinese Catholics put their faith—becomes a serious reason for despair in the Church itself. Many Chinese Catholics now feel: “The pope is perversely siding with the communist authorities we have resisted for decades in the pope’s name!”

2) And of course “Why destroy the Chinese?” would imply: “Why allow the Chinese Church to be destroyed by communist goons? Why not show as much love for faithful Chinese Catholics as you show for faithful Western, Latin American, European Catholics?”

3) “Look for … feelings.”: There are many expressions in Chinese which use a verbal formula similar to look for as roughly equivalent to search out or go and research. As regards “feelings” in this usage, a Chinese speaker would understand it as equivalent to what people really think. A common verbal formula in Chinese 覺得 means equally feel and think. Finally, in an authoritarian culture like that of China, there is a a lot of distance between What one says in public and What one feels/thinks. So the woman would mean something like: “Go and study Chinese Catholics’ deep thinking/feelings about what you have done!”

(But wait. Did I say “authoritarian”? Under Xi, China is quickly approaching totalitarian.)

3) “Talk to me!” At this point, the pope was already walking away. So it could of course be a call for him to return and engage in the conversation. But one meaning of the literal expression “Talk to me!” in Chinese is something like “Explain yourself!” Which is why in my tentative Chinese I’ve translated her words in that direction. Yes, there’s an extra syllable in her English phrase, which may make some think she is not saying “Talk to me!” but “Talk-a to me!” or “Talking to me!” On this question, note that it’s characteristic of Chinese speakers with rough English to add a vocalic sound to ending consonants. This is because Chinese words never end on hard consonants. (As an example, many Chinese speakers will pronounce my name “Eric” as something closer to “Erica”.)

That’s my best shot at making sense of this desperate woman’s words if indeed she is speaking English. I do think she is, and I do think I’m pretty clear on at least parts of her message. Yes, I may be proven wrong, but so far nobody has identified another language, and no other feasible English transcription has appeared.

As a Catholic living in Taiwan, a free and democratic nation of 23.5 million people repeatedly threatened by Beijing, I am especially troubled over the fate now faced by fellow Catholics in China. And I remain worried about Taiwan’s security and depressed by the prospect that the this pope may ultimately cut diplomatic ties with our flourishing Taiwanese democracy in order to pay respects to the brutal dictators in Beijing.

It is a deeply troubling time for the Church. If you are Catholic, I ask you to pray for China’s Catholics, who are facing some of the worst of it.

Eric Mader

Have some deadpan with your coffee. My Idiocy, Ltd. is now in print. Dryest humor in the west.

64 comments:

NAninymous said...

While both the woman and His Holiness behaved rather "impolitely" with each other, I think that it was, and IS, wrong that Pope Francis (and his "advisers") ignore what is happening to the Catholic Church's presence in the Far East, especially in Mainland China. Previous pontiffs in the last decade of the Twentieth Century rightly condemned China's "Catholic Church" as nothing more than an extension of Beijing's puppet. His Holiness needs to take steps to rectify this.

Pierre said...

I'm sorry but it is not that they, Pope Francis (and his "advisers") ignore what is happening to the Catholic Church's presence in the Far East, they MADE that situation.

Lisa Graas said...

Thank you.

St. Benedict's Thistle said...

Many thanks for your measured tone. Prepare for blowback. Your visitor stats will also get interesting.

FatherHPotter said...

The pastor should always be loving, never be mean in his reaction.

Vik van Brantegem said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vik van Brantegem said...

The original English with an Italian (working) translation:
http://www.korazym.org/36371/finalmente-adesso-sappiamo-cosa-ha-detto-la-donna-asiata-a-papa-francesco-prima-di-schiaffergarla-english-italiano/

Belsiep said...

*asiatica...schiaffeggiarla

Liam Ronan said...

Thank you for such a reasoned and researched presentation. I still wonder why no one has been ablse to identify the woman by name given the wide distribution of the video clip.

"...do not forget to shew hospitality; in doing this, men have before now entertained angels unawares." Hebrews 13:1-2 Angels unawares perhaps?

Anonymous said...

I'm sad . . . extremely sad for what I see. She was just over-excited to be listened to by the pope. With due respect to him, he should have not turned away with a scowl, but even after he did that, he should have turned back and looked at her and showed compassion. She was not there to disrespect him but to get his attention as a father. His apologizing publicly is good. How about also seeking her out and giving her a personal audience?

Anonymous said...

Pass this on.

Ceile De said...

Hi Eric - two more American Catholics here in Taipei. What parish do you go to? Midweeks Masses seem OK but Sunday Masses all seem very emotional and syrupy so our search goes on and on for a sober one.

Fr. VF said...

How about not ridiculing the Asian woman by saying to a nun, "Please don't bite me"?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I believe she spoke English. But I think she said, "Guardian article!" Then something about "starving". And then, "Answer to me!"

MICHAEL said...

How?

MICHAEL said...

Francis should look for the woman,public apologies not enough with what he did.
For goodness sake,looking at how it happened,she needed attention from Francis as head of Catholicism and maybe the woman may not have access to see Francis outside the arena. And anything that can cause a woman to hold you in the public with believe a father must be a serious something bordering her.
The only thing FRANCIS SHOULD DO IS TO LOOK FOR THE WOMAN AND GIVE ATTENTION AND WHAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED.

Anonymous said...

I doubt that the Pope actually understood what she said to him. His English is not very good, if altogether non-existent. Would he have been able to understand her English with the roar of the crowd all around him? Rather, the best interpretation is that he reacted to her physical actions rather than to her words.

Lacey said...

I do not think she was equally to blame. She was desperately crying out for help for all of the millions of Chinese who could not be there. How else would she have been listened to at all?

She was obviously Chinese, and Bergoglio would have a pretty good idea of what she was saying even if she spoke in Egyptian. He knows what he did, and he knows how the Chinese feel about it. Of course he turned away angrily.

Unknown said...

Amen.

Eric Mader said...

@Vik van Brantegem: Many thanks for introducing my piece to Italian readers!

@Ceile De: I attend Mass at Guting Sacred Heart Church, which is near Tai-Da. In fact there are no traditionalist parishes in Taipei.

Anonymous said...

WhoreHe is not the Pope. He is not even a valid bishop. He is not even a valid priest. He is not even a member of the Catholic Church, but an ipso facto excommunicated apostate and Freemason Satan-worshipper.

http://www.novusordowatch.org

Ceile De said...

Thanks. We know Sacred Heart. We go once a month to TLM in Hsinchu but would be happy just with a very sober Sunday NO in Taipei.....

BrotherBeowulf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BrotherBeowulf said...

Fifth Day of the Epiphany
10 January 2020 A. D.

Well done, Mr. Mader. Thank you. You performed a great service to the truth in posing your initial question then following the line of reasoning to provide an intelligent and intelligible answer.

Your explanation and interpretation fits, of course as Francis is Hellbent on destroying not just the Church in China—as his secret agreement and reaction to the Catholic lady illumines for all the world—but the entire Church at large as well. That’s exactly what one would expect of a false pope, which Antipope Bergoglio is.

Sorry to hear no old Latin Mass offered in Taipei. Maybe some old timer will offer the Tridentine Mass here or there! We'll pray (from here in N. Y. C. and Pequonnock, N. J.) that the F. S. S. P. come to Formosa!

Immaculate Heart, Triumph! Viva Cristo Rey!

In corde Christi,

C. B.

Ceile De said...

Thanks CB, FSSP here would be great. We have monthly TLM in Hsinchu but May get monthly one in Taipei soon,DV. That would make two Sunday Talks a month.

Ceile De said...

I mean TLMs!!

BrotherBeowulf said...

Yes Ceile De, that’s great. I also think it highly telling that the Catholic Lady blessed herself with the sign of the Cross before reaching for his hand and addressing the false pope.

“Why destroy their faith!”

“Because that’s what antipope’s do!”

Praying for all our courageous Catholic brethren in Taiwan and in greater China.

Anonymous said...

Amen again. Anyone who thinks this woman behaved in any way improperly should walk forty miles in her shoes — or the shoes of ANY Chinese Christian. Then come back and make the argument.

Neofito said...

Tks for your efforts.
God bless u.
and I repeat myself here: that men, is not the pope, neither benedict.

Robert Morton said...

I listened to the recording on Father Z's blog, and I think she may be saying "Listen to me" instead of "Talk to me".

BrotherBeowulf said...

Poor Neo—you sound like a Sede-Bot.

You got it half right as usual. Yes I know poor Pope Benedict may have erred in doctrine as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and before that as Professor. Yet that does not go to his validity as pope.

He may be imperfect—like everyone else but for sedevacantists—but he’s still the one and only Vicar of Christ on earth. And he needs our prayers. Desperately.

Immaculate Heart, triumph!

stejohns said...

Great article! Thank you for giving us a Catholic Chinese perspective on this. A couple of my thoughts, since I have many Asian friends. First, yes, she must have spoken English. She would not have gone to plead her cause with the pope and spoken in her native tongue, because she would know he would not understand it. If she didn't know English, she would learn the necessary words prior to her encounter with Francis. And yes, it would have been broken English. Second, of course she has gone into hiding, since if she returns to China she would probably be imprisoned. Only in the USA would people ask why she hasn't come forward. Not only does she fear her own gov't, but probably fears reprisal from the Francis regime. He did not appear receptive to her, did he. Third, like the man who tossed the pachamama into the Tiber, this woman is a hero for coming forward to plead for her fellow Chinese Catholics. She has risked a lot to do so.

Carolina Jimbo said...

Francis is an apostate and heretic. He is not the Pope.

Kathleen1031 said...

Thank you for this, your insights are valuable. We may never know for sure. I believe I can hear "Why destroy their faith" and she must have made a reference to the Chinese, because who else would she be referring to. The only other word it sounds to me is "mercy" toward the end. With the background noise, it is hard to make out much.
I cannot in any way fathom anyone criticizing this woman at all. Her people, her beloved church and faith, are being plowed under BY that man, now in front of her, the only one who could do anything about it. Like St. Therese, she has her moment, and she took it, perhaps not realizing not only would he not do anything, he is the architect. With all the emotion no doubt welling up in her, she demonstrates she knows this is it, by her sign of the cross, which is what may have made him turn away. He has proven he has no tolerance for acts of piety by actual Catholics. Proven it. I have not analyzed the timing but that would not surprise me if that is when he turned. And she grabbed his hand in desperation. I doubt he could make out what she said, but I do think it hurt him a bit, the elderly cannot easily be jerked like that. He did not hurt her physically with the slaps but it is a bad experience and look all around, he should have returned to her with security to try to repair it, not turned away angrily and left in a huff. He puts himself in crowds by his own choice. He should have developed patience by this point, and understanding there are a million sheep, but only one (or two) popes.
The only point in this article I disagree with is the statement she wants the Chinese to be treated as well as faithful Catholics from Europe, North America, etc. Hope for better! He dislikes Americans intensely, and treats faithful Catholics like dirt.
God help and bless the Chinese Catholics, you're in our hearts and minds, we see it, we get it, it's awful.
And may God help us all.

Theodore M. Seeber said...

By signing the treaty that the abuser McCarrick negotiated.

Ceile De said...

https://m.dagospia.com/bergoglio-fatto-a-maglie-che-fine-ha-fatto-la-signora-cinese-schiaffeggiata-dal-papa-223804

Ceile De said...

This blog posting made the Italian press!

CPT Tom said...

Thank you for your even handed analysis. Others have mad it sound like the woman is totally wrong, and while this is a difficult situation, the bottom line is that he is the leader and Supreme Pontiff, so the rules of conduct for him are much tighter than a distraught woman. Also, if she said what you said she did, and I do believe you are correct, Francis has proven that he is capable of extreme anger and hostility to those who don't agree with him. This is a serious defect for someone who is a shepherd of souls. Far as what the woman said, this squares with my wife's opinion. My wife is from Shanghai, and grew up in the underground church. Her family was persecuted and some of her family spend years in prison or labor camps because they wouldn't renounce the pope and the Church. Instead of honoring those martyrs, Bergolio makes a deal with the Chi-Coms and sells them out. Now the churches are being sacked of their sacred art which is being replace with Communist propaganda an pictures of Chairman Xi. Way to go Holy Father.

Anonymous said...

SHE IS AGGRESSIVE AND RUDE, AS SO MANY CHINESE CAN BE. YOU DON'T PULL A POPE LIKE THAT. HE WAS RIGHT TO SLAP HER HAND LIGHTLY AND SHE IS LUCKY SHE GOT OFF WITH JUST THAT.

Gerry Yee said...

Not accurately translated.

Eric Mader said...

@Gerry Yee: The Chinese is correct. I am offering a *possible* Chinese thought-process that may stand behind her hard-to-interpret English utterance.

Anonymous said...

First, we are talking about a Pope who is different than any other in recent time. The things he is doing to the church would horrify some in the past. I understand bringing God's children together under one common banner, but making a INE world religion and tearing apart Dogma to do it is not the way. Evangelism is done by bringing those to your beliefs, not the other way. Second, the fact his first reaction was anger shows he isn't as much the presence if our Father on Earth as man who enjoys his power and entitlement. Three things happening in China to the Catholics there is wrong. They are returning to the days when Christians were beheaded. I think something needs to be done before our beloved Church and her 2000 year history and traditions are lost. This is written in the Prophecies. The end is coming, I just hope we will be ready.

wife said...

I facetiously conjectured to my son, "maybe she was bringing up the Pope's sellout of the Church in China." Thrilled to find out I was probably right! It is horrible that the Pope backs the false "Patriotic" church in China and abets them. "The Epoch Times"(which is also online) is a great resource on all things Asian. It constantly highlights the abuses of China, especially the slaughter of political prisoners for the sale of their organs!

kenhagen said...

I agree with your assessment. I don’t have arthritis and I’m not 80 but to me the body language said that he was avoiding talking to her more than he was in pain. Just my opinion. I thought it looked very rude of him to just walk away when she was clearly pleading for a word with him.

C. LaSalle said...

PF doesn't care about anything or anyone, just his own agenda. He will pay the price one day for the lost souls he drove away from the church.

Montfort Headmaster said...

Thank you for the assessment of her words. I also captured that she was speaking in broken English and desperately wanting to make a plea for the persecuted Catholics in China. Again, your assessments seems to make so much sense. God bless!

dxv515 said...

Where's the Chinawoman's INTERVIEW?

Hero Alexander Tschugguel gave hundreds of interviews...

Where's the interview...

Ed of Ct. Usa said...

When told of these red atrocities. Ab. Parolin insisted with a straight face That THE patsy red church in China follows Rc. Social justice ??? And perhaps global warming papal rants by cino B. F.

Unknown said...

I love what you said. I wish Francis should have an open audience with the Catholic Chinese church. Listen to them and be able to plead with the Chinese government.

I actually feel her pain. I am moved. There are actually atrocities committed in Nigeria and the Pope doesn't comments about the country. If it was Jesus Christ, he would turn and give some words of consolation and strength to be brave.

We should keep praying for the Pope and the church. May we increase in wisdom and grace.

In Our Lady's Shadow said...

Amen.

TLM said...

THIS! He half apologizes (sort of) in his Angelus and then makes the situation worse with this back and forth with this nun? I realize there have been many bad Popes in the history of the CC, but this one takes the cake!

BrotherBeowulf said...

Sixth/Seventh Day in the Octave of Trinity
11-12th January 2020 A. D.

My Dear @TLM--

Yes indeed, as you note, "there have been many bad Popes in the history of the CC, but this one takes the cake!"

Yes, Bergoglio is worse than any of the bad popes (I heartily recommend E. R. Chamberlin’s “The Bad Popes,” which I read for context early on in Bergoglio’s anti-reign), but no, he is not actually in the class of pope at all.  

Literally, quite the contrary.  

Our good Cardinal Bergoglio is in another line altogether, that of antipope.

He is in a class all by himself here as well, as Bergoglio is unlike almost all other antipopes in history, most of whom were, at least, Catholic.

My point is, beware the Bergoglio.  He is a false pope.  He is a heretical man.  And he is an antipope.  

But the titles are less important than the substance of the man.  What is his aim? What has he ceaselessly tried to do since he usurped--or occupied in a less polemical phrase--the See of St Peter?

Is it not obvious that his goal is and has always been twofold, and the two aims are quite closely related—

First, destroy Holy Mother Church. This he has attempted by his relentless attack on the sacraments and the priesthood.

Second, lead as many souls to Hell--which of course he has said doesn't exist--as possible. This he has tried through innumerable false, ambiguous and heterodox teaching. “God made you gay,” for example.

I suggest we all try to view Bergoglio against the context of what he is trying to accomplish, which we can determine by what he has actually done. Then, many things become clear.  This I believe is the key to perceiving who Bergoglio is, and how to counter him.

These may well be end times, as spoken of by Sr. Lucia of Fatima in 1957.

If so the remedy is the Rosary; devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; prayer and fasting; and the help and eventual triumph of the Immaculate Heart.

I believe our poor Catholic lady who is the subject of this piece was acting as an instrument of Our Lady to expose the callous disregard and murderous intent of . . . Antipope Bergoglio. (And Parolin.) What he has done to Catholics in China, he would do to us all.

Immaculate Heart, pray for us and all our Catholic brethren especially the persecuted of China. Save our Church!

Viva Cristo Rey!

Dubia man said...

in other words, the Pope is unresponsive to some other dubia, from a lay Chinese woman

Anonymous said...

I do firmly believe that this man is not a true man of God. I believe he was installed as part of the New World Order and is tied to the evil UN. Interestingly, I read this article this morning - so we are quite obviously not alone in our thoughts and assessment.
https://www.breitbart.com/faith/2020/01/10/scottish-hermits-excommunicated-after-accusing-pope-francis-of-heresy/?fbclid=IwAR1ru82oetfxvfS_ZW8_KQ-q0R6RmRH0dNBWwfnmFEg47S9RUPwcasdtvPA

Viva Cristo Rey said...

Thank you for this article

Anonymous said...

Ma quando la donna Cinese ha parlato, c'era un registratore ??? per sapere veramente quello che ha detto ??

Anonymous said...

Pope Saint John Paul II sought out his assassin and visited him in prison.

Pope Francis could learn from him, and ensure that the Chinese lady has the option to speak with him in a similar manner.

Anonymous said...

The assassination attempt was staged http://letsrollforums.com//fatima-hoax-and-staged-t29187.html

Anonymous said...

As far as I know, we have no proof that this Asian woman was a Catholic. Her words were "Their" Faith, not "Our" Faith or "My Faith".

chadschwartz1409@gmail.com said...

I don't think it's really important 2 try and interpret motivations of the conversation or the actions of someone who we know nothing about personally, although the Pope in the papacy have a lot of authority but in the end the Pope Pope Francis is a man of flesh he is able to make mistakes and I'm sure he has a lot of regrets but has to remain a man of strength . The devil can show his ugly face try to disrupt, discredit, and confuse please let's focus on what's important and that is the blood of Christ in him we will not fail we will be uplifted and saved through that blood our faith gives us the body through the Eucharist and is the great unwavering factor of why my trust in faith remain promised in that Love not war

BrotherBeowulf said...

15th January 2020 A. D.
St Paul the First Hermit

No proof she’s Catholic?

That’s an astonishing claim. She signed herself with the Cross before addressing Bergoglio. She gave voice to a million persecuted and betrayed Catholics in grave peril. She raised her voice to the very Herod who, with the help of the very devils Mccarrick & Parolin among others, designed and implemented the betrayal, for thirty pieces of silver and the plain aim of destroying the Church in China.

She’s a veritable saint. May God bless her.

Immaculate Heart, Triumph!

Remnant said...

Gerry Yee.... what is your version of its translation?

Karen Marie Rotter said...

Absolutely. Initially I defended his reaction to free himself from her aggressive grip, but there is now more to consider; this and another video that has surfaced showing something similar.

Karen Marie Rotter said...

I was thinking the same thing; that the Pope could seek her out—maybe he has or is trying to do so.