Friday 31st October 2014

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

A Book Review . . . The Blood Of Martyrs In China

April 1, 2014 Featured Today No Comments

By DONAL FOLEY

The Red Book of Chinese Martyrs: Testimonies and Autobiographical Accounts by Gerolamo Fazzini (Ignatius Press, 374 pages; sale prices $14.41 print, $11.02 e-book). Order through Ignatius Press, at www.ignatius.com, or call 1-800-651-1531 (web discounts do not apply to phone orders).

This book is a sobering account of the persecution, and in some cases martyrdom, of Chinese Catholics, mainly during the time of Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung), from the mid-1940s until the early 1980s. The author, Gerolamo Fazzini, is Italian and the Ignatius Press edition is a translation from the Italian. Fazzini is associated with PIME, the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions.
After Mao’s Communist forces had defeated the Nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-shek in 1949, and gained power in China, they gradually began to move against all opposing forces in the country, including the Catholic Church, which was accused of “imperialism.”
At this point, there were about three and a half million Catholics in China, including over 5,000 priests, nearly half of whom were native Chinese. There were even more nuns, in excess of 300 seminarians, and over 100 dioceses or archdioceses. The Church was responsible for a large social apostolate, including over 200 hospitals and nursing homes, three universities, and nearly 200 high schools. In addition, the Legion of Mary had a strong and growing presence.
But gradually, the Communists moved to repress “counterrevolutionary activities,” and developed a propaganda campaign against the Church, involving repeated mass campaigns, such that by 1951, persecution of Catholics was taking place all over the country, with the aim of exercising total government control over all religious activities. There were numerous arrests, and schools, convents, and seminaries were closed, while foreign missionaries were forced to leave China or face imprisonment or expulsion.
In October 1951, large numbers of Chinese and foreign clergy in Peking were arrested, leading to trials and in some cases death sentences. By the end of the year, there were 22 bishops in prison, and over 1,000 foreign missionaries had been expelled. By the mid-1950s, the Church in China was “almost completely confined to the prisons and labor camps.”
That is the background to the experiences of the particular individuals whose stories are recounted in this book, and they comprise three priests and a laywoman, as well as a large community of Trappist monks. Only the monks actually died, but the long-term sufferings of some of the priests in prisons and labor camps were a veritable martyrdom in themselves.
The first two accounts, those of Fr. Tan Tiande and Fr. John Huang Yongmu, are autobiographical and consist of diaries recording their imprisonment, including forced labor, which lasted 30 and 25 years respectively. There is also a short biography of another priest, and an autobiographical account from a young woman, Gertrude Li Minwen, which was smuggled out of the country in the shoes of an Italian missionary.
The final section is a harrowing account of the martyrdom of the 33 Cistercian monks from Yangjiaping, who were literally “marched to death” in 1947.
One of the big obstacles to such accounts becoming better known has been the ideological bias in favor of Chinese Communism displayed by Maoist sympathizers in the West, so this book performs a very useful service in giving us the unvarnished truth about the sufferings of Catholics under Mao, the self-styled “Great Helmsman.”
Indeed, a case can be made that Mao ranks as the foremost mass-murderer of all time, given that an internal Communist Party document puts the number of “non-natural” deaths during the “Great Leap Forward,” which took place from 1958-1961, at 80 million.
For the Catholics imprisoned under Mao — those in the category of “enemies without guns” — the regime was very harsh, and included a “reeducation” process. This often involved endless interrogations, mass meetings, indoctrination courses, and forced public confessions of guilt, with the whole thing designed to break down the resistance of the prisoner.
It is interesting to note that as part of Fr. John Huang Yongmu’s reeducation program in prison, not only did he have to study the historical development of socialism, but he was also indoctrinated in the theory of evolution. He was instructed that mankind is descended from apes, in teaching expressly designed to deny the existence of God.
He describes what life in the camps was like:
“During the ‘Great Leap Forward’ we worked shifts of twelve hours a day and often more, so that I was completely exhausted. . . . We were permitted to rest only five or six hours per day. Despite this, I always recited five decades of the Rosary each day and the litanies of Our Lady for the souls in purgatory. Once I had been put in prison, I used to recite mentally the whole Mass from memory while lying down in bed.”
Fr. Tan Tiande underwent nearly 30 years of hard labor in a cold northeastern province of China. He describes how on occasion he was locked up “in an extremely small and narrow room. All day long the only thing I could do was to remain seated with my legs crossed. . . . I was not allowed to speak to anyone at all, . . . otherwise I would be subjected to a painful tongue lashing.”
But the harshness of his treatment did not break his spirit, or quench his zeal for the faith, and on his release he carried out an extensive pastoral ministry well into his 90s. One foreign missionary, who knew him after his release, said: “To encounter him is a blessing; one sees how fidelity to Christ and a complete and undivided love for Him can make a life beautiful.”
The Cistercian monks of Our Lady of Consolation Monastery at Yangjiaping had to endure particularly appalling treatment. They were forced out of their monastery on a “long march” for months on end, on the steep paths of the northern mountains, in the heat of summer, the rains of autumn, and the cold of winter.
Their hands were tied behind their backs with wire, they were forced to carry the baggage of the soldiers, and they were subject to constant brutality and ridicule. One by one they died along the way, while six were executed during this tragic “Way of the Cross.”
The situation for the Church did not really begin to improve until well after the Cultural Revolution of the mid to late 1960s, and the death of Mao, in 1976. There are various estimates as to the number of Catholics in China today, but a figure in excess of 10 million seems probable, so once again we see a fulfillment of Tertullian’s saying that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.
The book has a preface by Joseph Cardinal Zen, the emeritus bishop of Hong Kong, and it certainly makes good lenten reading. The number of those in China who had to shoulder Christ’s cross of suffering was not insignificant, and we should realize that our fellow Christians are likewise undergoing persecution in many parts of the world — as indeed some still are in China today.
And it is not impossible that we in the West could face persecution ourselves at some point in the future.

+    +    +

(Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian Apparitions, and maintains a related web site at www.theotokos.org.uk.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Cardinal says church under Pope Francis is a ‘rudderless ship’

VATICAN CITY (RNS) American Cardinal Raymond Burke, the feisty former archbishop of St. Louis who has emerged as the face of the opposition to Pope Francis’ reformist agenda, likened the Roman Catholic Church to “a ship without a rudder” in a…Continue Reading

Angola: Catholic Priest Refutes Criticism of Church Practices

Lubango — The Southern Huila province?s Lubango city emeritus archbishop, Zacarias Kamwenho, rejected as false the claim that Catholic Christians worship images. Speaking on Sunday in the Muxima Diocese, in Lubango, the archbishop explained that Catholic Christians worship God instead,…Continue Reading

Ave Maria School of Law Wins Its HHS Mandate Case in Federal Court

The Obama Administration has suffered another defeat in its quest to force Catholics and people of faith to pay for abortion-causing drugs, as required by the HHS Mandate. Today the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida came down…Continue Reading

Catholic Educators Appeal to Obama Administration for Relief from HHS Mandate

Today a coalition including The Cardinal Newman Society, leaders of Catholic schools and colleges, and the expert attorneys of the Alliance Defending Freedom told the Obama administration that its latest rule mandating insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including abortion-causing…Continue Reading

Toronto schools hosting ‘LGBTQ’ conference for students as young as 11

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is hosting three student conferences within the span of eight days for the purpose of LGBTQ activism.  The conferences, which have been organized in collaboration with Jer’s Vision, will take place on October 28,…Continue Reading

The Synod and the Media: Culpable Naïveté or Shrewd Calculation?

Upon becoming director of media relations for the American bishops in late 1969, I quickly made a crucial discovery about my new employers. With just a handful of exceptions, the bishops were painfully naïve about the news business, yet convinced…Continue Reading

Chaldean Catholic patriarch suspends 10 priests, including 1 from El Cajon

SAN DIEGO – The head of the Chaldean Catholic Church has suspended 10 priests, including one from El Cajon. Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako issued a decree a month ago, demanding the priests return to Iraq or be suspended. Wednesday…Continue Reading

Retired Pope Says Interreligious Dialogue No Substitute For Mission

VATICAN CITY – Retired Pope Benedict XVI said dialogue with other religions is no substitute for spreading the Gospel to non-Christian cultures, and warned against relativistic ideas of religious truth as “lethal to faith.” He also said the true motivation…Continue Reading

California Forces Churches to Directly Fund Abortions, Churches Refuse to Comply

To the dismay of California’s people of faith, the California Department of Managed Health Care has reclassified abortion as a “basic health service” under the Affordable Care Act and ordered all insurance plans in the state to begin covering surgical…Continue Reading

Relax. God’s Still In Charge.

It’s an enormous challenge to maintain pristine doctrinal purity while at the same time respond to the experiential, personal, and difficult needs of married couples and families. Behind every arcane discussion of gradualism and natural law there are parents and…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: The “Relatio Synodi” Is “A Significant Improvement Over The Text Of The ‘Relatio Post Disceptationem'”

In a third short interview with CWR, conducted by e-mail late yesterday, Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, offers his impression of the Relatio Synodi, comments on reports that the Synod has…Continue Reading

Synod Final Document Reaffirms Church Teaching

The final document of the Extraordinary Synod was released Saturday as the Synod Fathers voted to approve all 62 paragraphs, but with three paragraphs not receiving the normally required two-thirds majority vote. The three paragraphs, which in the past would…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

Pope At Mass: Christian Life Is A Continuous Battle Against The Devil

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis described Christian life as a continuous battle being waged against Satan, the world and the passions of the flesh. His comments came during his homily at Mass celebrated on Thursday morning at the Santa Marta residence. He stressed that the devil exists and we must fight against him with the armour of truth. Pope Francis’s reflections…Continue Reading

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Writes Personal Ordinariate Of Our Lady Of Walsingham

ben1

(Vatican Radio) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has sent a message to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which was established for former Anglicans in England in 2011.  The message was on the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict’s apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, which was released on November 4th 2009. The Pope Emeritus was responding to a letter he received…Continue Reading

Pope At Audience: The Church Visible And Spiritual

pope650

(Vatican Radio)  “Often, we hear people say: the Church doesn’t do this …the Church doesn’t do that!’ ‘Tell me who is the Church? – ‘Well the Church is the priests, the bishops, the Pope …’ We are all the Church! All of us all of us Baptized! We are the Church, the Church of Jesus’”. This was the message at…Continue Reading

Pope At Angelus: Love Of God And Neighbour Are Inseparable

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with pilgrims and tourists gathered in St Peter’s Square beneath the window of the Papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican on Sunday. In remarks ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, the Holy Father offered some reflections on the Gospel reading of the day, which was taken from Gospel…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Does Contraception Lead To Abortion?”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 21 of The Facts of Life, “Contraception,” e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have seen that contraception fails frequently and so often leads to abortion.…Continue Reading

Pass-Fail Grading: For The Professors’ Benefit?

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK S.M. writes to offer some observations about the proposal to introduce a “pass-fail” grading system for freshmen at Princeton University. The possibility of doing that was discussed in the October 9 edition of First Teachers. He sees the idea as a “form of grade inflation that is solely intended to accomplish…Continue Reading

Contemporary Culture Encapsulated In A Single Sentence

By DONALD DeMARCO It is remarkable how much a single sentence can reveal about the temper of a culture, even when its author is trying to be withholding. Jacalyn Duffin, a historian and practicing hematologist, is the author of History of Medicine (University of Toronto Press, 2000). It is a 243-page tome that was produced…Continue Reading

Synod Document Of October 13, 2014

By JOHN F. KIPPLEY (Editor’s Note: John F. Kippley is the author of Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality and other books and articles. With his wife Sheila, he is a coauthor of Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach and cofounder of NFP International. This commentary appeared on his blog [johnkippley.com] of…Continue Reading

Elite Judges Think The Highest Judge Never Will End Their Misrule

By DEXTER DUGGAN Today people worry about globe-trotting terrorists, the transmission of the deadly Ebola virus, and the way contagions can cross borders when the government insists borders must be open for everyone’s alleged benefit. Meanwhile, unaccountable U.S. judges continue their contagion of immorality, as if God’s judgment never will come, maybe in little germs,…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Regarding our recent column on advanced medical directives and particularly the Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST), A.M.V. of Florida writes to say that the American Life League provides individuals with a document called the “Loving Will,” which corresponds to Catholic teaching. She said that this document was “crucial with my mom’s situation” when she was admitted…Continue Reading

Temples Of The Holy Spirit

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Feast Of The Dedication Of St. John Lateran In Rome Readings: Ezek. 47:1-2, 8-9, 12 1 Cor. 3:9c-11, 16-17 John 2:13-22 Today we celebrate the feast of the dedication of a church building that many people have never heard of and also have no idea of its significance. In Rome, there are four major basilicas; the…Continue Reading

Message Of The Extraordinary Synod Of Bishops . . . We Ask You To Walk With Us Toward The Next Synod

(Editor’s Note: Below is the text of the concluding message of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, held October 5-19. This message was released on October 18. (See Fr. Kevin M. Cusick’s column in this issue, p. 2B, and the front page for reporting and commentary on the separate final document of the Extraordinary Synod.) + + +…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Redefining Marriage: Not About The Kids And The Picket Fence

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Following the Extraordinary Synod and the rollback on confusing language about same-sex attraction and the divorced and remarried in the final version of the Relatio Synodi document, the predictable reactions are coming in. Those who continue to hold Church teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman are labeled as “bigots,” while…Continue Reading

Debunking The Sola Scriptura Myth… True Tradition And False “Tradition”

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 4 A classical objection: What Catholics call the “Apostolic Tradition” is just a human tradition, which Jesus clearly condemned in the Gospel, when He said to the Pharisees, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?…So, for the sake of your tradition you have made void the…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Wolfgang

By CAROLE BRESLIN October 31 has come to be yet another Christian holy day corrupted by our secular society. All Hallows Eve, Halloween, is now celebrated with emphasis on evil and horror. Corn mazes with frightening objects around the corner, haunted houses to terrify even the bravest of persons, glorification of vampires, and decorations of death and witches — these…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anthony Mary Claret

By CAROLE BRESLIN St. Anthony Mary Claret has something in common with at least three other saints. Like St. Peter Claver, he was born in northeastern Spain — over 200 years later. Like St. Pio of Pietrelcina, when he heard Confessions, he frequently could read the souls of the penitents, asking them about a sin that they had not confessed.…Continue Reading

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading