Sunday, January 13, 2013

Let Me Tell You About A Bishop

I had never heard of this man until a few years ago. My family and I starting throwing our support to the Cardinal Kung Foundation. I was sent a card telling me about Bishop James (Jacob) Su Zhimin and asking me to pray for him every night.

He is bishop of Baoding (Hebei) in China. His predecessor died under torture from Chinese authorities. He is regarded as an enemy of the state by Beijing. Why? Because he remains loyal to the Christ's Church and His Vicar. This resulted in his being kidnapped by government thugs in 1997. Nobody has seen him since 2003, when he had been admitted to a hospital. This wasn't His Excellency's first stint in prison. In the course of his life, he's spent over four decades in captivity for Christ.

His memory is so feared by the Communists that they banned praying for him in 2011 on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

A recent entry from AsiaNews indicates that there is a chance he might be set free.

Since the beginning of this year, in fact, the reformed penal code has passed into law which, at least in intention, aims to "respect and protect human rights." An example of this is that under the new law no one should be forced to incriminate themselves and all arrests must be based on evidence "obtained in a legal manner", i.e. not through torture.

The law also ensures immediate access to a lawyer within 48 hours of a request being made, and that the relatives of the suspect are to be informed of the circumstances and place of detention. Moreover during the period of detention, the suspect must be guaranteed an adequate diet and sleep. Finally, the police can not detain a person without charge for more than six months.

A Hebei priest told AsiaNews that under these new laws, enacted in the era of Xi Jinping, Msgr. James Su Zhimin, the underground bishop of Baoding (ds in the photo), 80, who disappeared in police custody 15 years ago, should be able to return home. His family every year, on the anniversary of his kidnapping, ask the police where their relative is being held, as of this year they will finally have an answer different from the one received in the past ("We do not know!") .

Of course, this is China, so the law doesn't necessarily mean much. Some folks are more equal than others, after all. It is a cause for hope, though. Please offer your prayers for this brave and holy man, as well as for all of our persecuted brethren in China. Support the Cardinal Kung Foundation.

I also will make a suggestion. If you find yourself ever questioning your faith because of the cowardice, heresy, or other scandal from a bishop, reflect on the courage shown by these men in the face of martyrdom. They shepherd their flocks under infinitely worse conditions than we see here. They stand firm. They suffer. Not only that, but nobody cares. There is no international outcry, no sanctions, no nothing. And still His grace is sufficient for them.

One does not forsake Peter because of Judas. It does really inspire to see those who stay faithful to Peter, despite Satan's attempt to sift them like wheat.

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