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Chinese Underground Bishop Dies in
Secret Prison

Margaret C. Galitzin
Pope Francis made a bid to open new dialogue with Beijing and said he is ready to go to China “tomorrow.”

The Chinese government responded with a warning not to interfere and announced it will continue to ordain bishops without the Vatican blessing.

In the meantime, the Communist Patriot Church encourages China’s underground Catholics to “unite” with them, following the directive of Pope Benedict XVI’s Letter to Chinese Catholics.

Bishop Cosmas Shi Enxiange

Bishop Cosmas Shi Enxiange of Yixian

Amid this charade of unity and the continued persecution of the faithful Catholics in China, a faithful Bishop died at the hands of the Communists and the Vatican is silent.

Bishop Cosmas Shi Enxiang of Yixian, an underground bishop who has not been seen since his arrest by the Communists 14 years ago, has died at age 94.

His great-niece Shi Chunyuan told the press that the family was informed by Baoding city government officials of the death, but they did not tell them exactly when he died or the cause of his death. Nor did they offer to return the body to Shizhuang, the family’s hometown.

“My parents and the Bishop’s other siblings are particularly sad,” his great niece said. “They had been unsuccessfully trying to discover his whereabouts for many years. Now the answer to their questions is that he is dead.”

The faithful Underground Catholic Church is mourning his death, many noting in postings on the social media that they were proud to have another “martyr in the Church.”

A history of imprisonments & hard labor

Bishop Shi was born in 1921 and ordained a priest in 1947 in the Underground Catholic Church. Until the Council, the Vatican had always supported the underground Catholics who opposed Communism and were faithful to Rome, and granted special concessions for the secret ordinations of their Bishops and priests.

Fr. Shi was first arrested in 1954 and went on to suffer long periods of imprisonment between 1957 and 1980. Much of that time was spent doing hard labor, first at a work camp in Heilongjiang province, then in coal mines in Shanxi province.

After returning to Hebei, he was arrested and imprisoned briefly again in 1981 for practicing his ministry in the Underground Catholic Church.

Bishop Han DinXiang

Another captive Bishop, Han DingXiang, was arrested in 1999 & died in 2007 in a Communist prison

He was secretly ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Yixian in 1982 and became the ordinary in 1995 after his predecessor Bishop Liu Guandong retired.

These secret consecrations of Bishops have provided the means for the Underground Church to survive. The above-ground Patriot Church is the so-called ‘Church’ officially sanctioned by the communist government and is strictly under its control. Under the provisions of Benedict XVI’s Letter to China’s Catholics, however, the Underground Church was told to cease and desist the long time practice of ordaining bishops and priests, which is effectively a call for its demise.

In 1989, Bishop Shi was arrested again and later released in 1993 as a result of international pressure.

He was arrested for the final time on Good Friday, 2001, and now, 14 years later, the first news the communist government released of him in all that time is the notice of his death.

Uncomfortable questions

Francis has followed the policy of his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict regarding China: Constantly urging fraternal dialogue with the communist Chinese government; supporting and patronizing the bogus Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA) and ignoring the courageous and faithful Underground Catholics who refuse to compromise with Communism.

Cardinal Parolin

Today's Secretary of State Card. Parolin negotiated Vatican acceptance of the CPA's illegitimate bishops

For example, the Vatican consistently said nothing regarding the detainment of underground bishops like Bishop Shi or the continued persecution of Catholics. The year 2014 saw increased demolitions of churches in the Zhejiang province, Shanghai's rich hinterland, and many crosses deemed too obtrusive were forcibly taken down.

One can only wonder why the Vatican takes this position of silence in face of the continued communist persecution of Chinese Catholics when it is vocal defending the rights of every other supposed persecuted group, including Muslims, Buddhists and homosexuals?

We have seen the Vatican push forward the beatifications and canonizations of progressivists ( Chiara Lubich, Mother Teresa, John Paul II, Paul VI, to name a few) and known communist sympathizers (such as Dorothy Day, Giorgio La Pira and Archbishop Oscar Romero). Why is there no action to beatify or honor in any way the many Chinese Catholics who suffered martyrdom and persecution under the Chinese Communist Regime established in 1949?

De facto acceptance of the CPA

Francis has repeatedly expressed his interest in visiting China, even though the communist government consistently ignores his wish with unbridled arrogance. In September 2014 Francis even sent a formal letter to President Xi Jinping inviting him to the Vatican to discuss world peace, or vice versa, he would go to Beijing “tomorrow” for the same purpose.

Xi Jinping did not deign to send a personal reply to the Pope. This is the way Communist China treats a fawning Vatican.

But if the Pope were to go to China, what Church would he see?

China Xi Pope Francis

An arrogant Xi ignores Francis' pleas to visit China

Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, Hong Kong’s outspoken former Archbishop, provides the answer. “Don’t come, you would be manipulated,” he warns. “The few courageous Catholics could not meet you, and the Communist Party would show you the illegitimate bishops, including the three excommunicated ones,” the 82-year-old said in a July 2014 interview.

That is to say, what the Pope and his entourage would greet and see the Chinese Patriot Association, not the Underground Church.

Unfortunately, the Vatican policy under John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and now Francis has been to accept and finance the CPA, as I have noted in another article. The support the Vatican is giving the Chinese Catholic Church goes to the CPA, not the underground Church. The Catholic student exchange programs, missionary projects, and seminary training plans are all turned toward the communist-supported CPA.

As for the CPA bishops, an agreement in the mid-2000s crafted by Card. Pietro Parolin, now Francis’ Secretary of State, arranged a tacit accord that the Vatican would approve the Chinese-chosen candidates. This has allowed recognition of the Patriotic Church and given their bishops, clergy and religious a prestige they never had.

Today the Vatican has even made offers to move its embassy to China from Taiwan, a complete betrayal of the Taiwanese Catholics who represent the anti-communist resistance.

In effect, the Pope’s visit to China under the present circumstances would give more support and prestige to the Communist Church, and further the tragic abandonment of the persecuted Underground Church.

Vatican silence in face of the death of an imprisoned Bishop, Vatican indifference over increasing persecution, Vatican de facto acceptance of the Chinese Patriotic Association: Behold yet another example of the communist hues the Vatican has assumed under the last three Popes.

Posted February 4, 2015

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