But You Can Never Take Away My Duties

I had heard this article being read on the radio, and, being quite impressed, looked it up so that I could share it with any who might, like me, be curious about the Church in China.


In 1953 he (Father Kung Pin-Mei, then Bishop of Shanghai ) gathered 3,000 young men in the cathedral while a thousand women recited the rosary in the square.

As police surrounded them, they processed with a large cross chanting: “Long live the Bishop. Long live the Holy Father. Long live the Church.”

In 1955 the bishop was thrust before a microphone at a show trial in a stadium to recant his anti-social errors, but he shouted: “Long live Christ the King! Long live the Pope!”

The sentence was life imprisonment.

When frequently urged to denounce the pope, he ritually answered: “I am a Roman Catholic Bishop. If I denounce the Holy Father, not only would I not be a Bishop, I would not even be a Catholic. You can cut off my head, but you can never take away my duties.”

For 30 years, much of it in solitary confinement, the Mass was forbidden, along with the Bible. His Communions were of the heart, all the time resisting the proselytizing of the collaborationist Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.

When international pressure got him released on “house arrest,” the government choreographed a propaganda dinner with the visiting Cardinal Sin of Manila, but the bishops were not allowed to speak to each other. The canny cardinal proposed that the sullen gathering be enlivened with songs. When his turn came, Kung chanted the To es Petrus—Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church.

With stomach cancer at the age of 86, he was sent to Hong Kong where he was amazed that Catholics no longer observed the Friday abstinence that he had kept for 30 meatless years.

Eventually he settled in with his nephew Joseph in Connecticut, eager to return to the people of Shanghai as their bishop.

Pope John Paul II told him that he had made him a cardinal secretly, in pectore, in 1979. They kept the secret until 1991, and on June 28 in St. Peter’s Square, Kung rose from his wheelchair, threw away his cane, and walked up the steps to kneel before the pontiff and receive the red hat, as the crowd applauded for an unprecedented seven minutes.

The above is from A CLOUD OF WITNESSES by Father Rutler (http://www.amazon.com/Cloud-Witnesses-Dead-People-Alive/dp/1594170886) (not to be confused with a book of the same name by Father Arseny, about the sufferings of martyrs in Soviet gulags) :