Faithful Chinese Bishops dies – forgave his enemies

From Fides:

The death of Mgr. Chen Shizhong: during forced labor he had received the gift of forgiving his enemies

Yibin (Agenzia Fides) – On December 16, 2012, His Exc. Mgr. John Chen Shizhong, Bishop of the Diocese of Yibin (Suifu), in the province of Sichuan (Mainland China) died. The Archbishop was 95 years old. He was born in 1917 to a Catholic family. When he was ten years old he began his vocational journey in the minor seminary of Yibin, then continued with the philosophical and theological formation at the seminary of the Annunciation. In 1947 he was ordained a priest and worked as a parish priest. In the 50s and during the Cultural Revolution he was first imprisoned and then sentenced to hard labor as a farmer. In this regard, a few months ago, he confided to a faithful that during that ordeal he had received the gift of forgiving his enemies.
In 1985 he was consecrated bishop and in 1988 and was appointed Rector of the Regional Seminary of Sichuan, a position he left the following year for health reasons. He returned to the diocese of Yibin where he remained for over twenty years. On 30 November 2011, seriously ill, he consecrated Rev. Peter Luo Xuegang as Coadjutor for the office in Yibin.
Mgr. John Chen Shizhong, the last elderly Bishop of Sichuan, is remembered for the work of formation of priests and religious women. Thanks to him, in the 80s and 90s, vocations to priesthood and consecrated life resumed throughout the province. Over 30 priests received sacred orders from his hands, thus ensuring the survival and development of the Church in a region, which was characterized by a hard Maoism and in which the hardships and persecutions of the Cultural Revolution strongly influenced the society and the life of the Church.
The funeral of Bishop Chen, celebrated on December 18 in the Cathedral of Yibin, were presided over by His Exc. Mgr. Luo Xuegang. His Excellency Mgr. Paul He Zeqing, Bishop of Wanxian also concelebrated. The Mass was attended by priests, religious women, and many of the faithful of the Diocese. Mgr. Chen’s body was then buried in the Catholic cemetery, close to the diocesan seminary. The diocese of Yibin has 9 priests, 7 religious women and 40,000 Catholics.

I understand that the bishop of the bishop of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association was present at the funeral.

I read stories like this and reflect upon both my own faults in charity, and I have had a relatively easy time of things compared to that old bishop, as well as the direction we are heading in West, these U.S.A. in particular.

When the times comes, will I be so forgiving?  I think it probably helps to get my head in to a mental place where I can think about this scenarios now.  Bp. Chen Shizhong said that he had received the gift, the grace, of being able to forgiven enemies.  Grace perfects our nature.  We have to do our part too.  We have to work on all the virtues, because they are habits.  We have to ask for graces.  We have to pray for and beg for miracles.  We have to be engaged and then strive to be at peace with the results God permits or grants.

Will we in time see the formation of an American Patriotic Catholic Association?

Some people don’t think that the horrors that happened in other places can possibly happen where they live.

I think they are wrong and I think we should all remember, daily, not only the Four Last Things, but also how precarious are our comforts and our worldly freedoms.

I should watch For Greater Glory again soon.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Cri de Coeur, Modern Martyrs, Pò sì jiù, Religious Liberty, The future and our choices and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. acardnal says:

    I have recently added The Red Book of Chinese Martyrs, published by Ignatius Press, to my wish list in order to have a better understanding to this period.

    Available in Kindle format,too. Please purchase via Fr. Z’s link.

  2. Bob B. says:

    Also the: Church Militant, Bishop Kung and Catholic Resistance in Communist Shanghai, is worth reading. Also the Cardinal Kung Foundation, on the internet, is a great source of information.

    There are still many true Catholics (those who did not and do not support the Patriotic Catholic church) in China, though many are older. Many of these same Catholics were arrested and many became martyrs. Mass is still held in secret there by underground priests (who are subject to arrest and detention).
    Government control of religion? Pius XII understood that you can’t appease communists (his encyclicals clearly put the Church first over the Chinese government). Too bad there are many who have ignored this lesson and think it can’t happen here.

  3. acardnal says:

    sic: ” . . . better understanding to this period.” Should read: ” . . . of this period.”

  4. Angie Mcs says:

    “Some people don’t think the horrors that happened in other places can possibly happen where they live.”

    My uncle wrote a book, published mostly for our family, in which he described the creeping success of the propaganda and power of the Nazis. I have heard all my life what took place in Germany prior to and during WWII. My grandfather, an opera singer in Berlin, was offered a position at the Met early on and turned it down, claiming that this “little” man, Hitler, can’t possibly be more than a passing phase: “Not in this country, where we have such culture and intelligence.”Needless to say, it was the biggest mistake of his life. Denial is a horrible danger, and this country is in an astounding denial. Perhaps because of my upbringing I am very aware and concerned about what possibilities can occur here. But in this era of ME , few are paying attention. And evil is slowly raising its ugly head yet again.

    I still have a tiny black and white photograph of the Statue of Liberty that my father took as we approached New York harbor. There were tears in his eyes as he told me of his dreams in coming here and such gratitude that he and his family made it. I miss him but am glad he’s not here to see what’s happening.

    I will pray for the soul of Mgr. Shizong, as well as God’s graces for us all. Thank you for your beautiful words, Father.

  5. StWinefride says:

    Father Z says: We have to ask for graces. We have to pray for and beg for miracles.

    This is one area in which St Thérèse of Lisieux has been such an example. Her holy daring, humble boldness and filial trust in God was unbelievably childlike and yet so powerful.
    Powerful because God allows Himself to be moved by such a spirituality.

    In a prayer, she reminds Our Lord of His own words from St John’s Gospel (16:23):

    Whatever you ask the Father in my Name, He will give it to you”.

    And she goes on the say:

    I am certain, then, that you will grant my desires…

    When safely in Heaven, she predicted:

    I shall give the good God no rest till He has given me all I want”.

    St Thérèse of Lisieux, pray for us.

  6. Causus Omnium Danorum says:

    Will we in time see the formation of an American Patriotic Catholic Association?
    I recall in one of his books, Walker Percy posited such a thing. But he was writing just before Vatican II, so he assumed such a beast would be ultra-nationalistic and ultra-patriotic with “The Star-Spangled Banner played at the consecration.” As we know today, if such a beast was created it would be all about the moral laxity that the Church’s teaching doesn’t permit. May God save us from such fates…

  7. Pingback: Beautiful Pics of Bp Schneider at St James CathedralBasilica | Big Pulpit

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