News-Leader.com 11:50 PM, Dec 2, 2012
In China there are more than 1,000 labor camps. There are more Christians in jail for their faith in China than in any other country.
ChinaAid, an organization that tracks persecution of Chinese Protestants, reveals that in 2011, the number of Christians detained for their religious beliefs had soared 131.8 percent from 2010. Arrests and disappearances of Christians intensified immediately preceding the recent Party Congress in China.
The Cardinal Kung Foundation (which monitors persecution of Catholics) reports that the situation for Catholics in China is worse than it was five years ago, and states that almost all underground bishops (those loyal to the Vatican, as opposed to priests who are members of the government-controlled Patriotic Church) are either in jail, under house arrest, hiding, in labor camps or under severe surveillance.
Throughout communist rule in China, Roman Catholics have demonstrated that it is possible under the most difficult circumstances to follow one’s conscience. Who are some of the people who have resisted communist pressure to deny their faith during the communist era in China?
Father Beda Chang, S.J., was born in 1905 into a family whose ancestors for several generations had been devout Catholics. After refusing to accept communist ideology, he was arrested Aug. 9, 1951, and secretly persecuted. After three months’ imprisonment by communists, his health had been entirely destroyed. He died at 46.
On July 2, 1951, Father Hsiao Chin-Sheng was imprisoned at Peking. He was described by friends as having undergone “a good deal of torture and suffering.” Hsiao served prison terms of a total of 29 years. He died on June 2, 1992, at 78.
Shen Tuo-Ts’ai was a member of the Catholic Center. On April 12, 1958, authorities aggressively entered the Shen home and forced family members into face-to-face “struggle sessions.” He was sent to Ch’ing Hai province for labor reform, after which he became ill. He died of pneumonia on Nov. 26, 1958.
The examples given above are from a limited-edition book published in Taiwan in 1995 to commemorate the martyrs from the first decade of communism in China, but their counterparts exist today in large numbers.
We hear a lot about how China has become the No. 2 economy in the world and how it learned from the economic mistakes made by Mao and the Russian Soviets, but when will the Chinese learn what former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev acknowledged on a trip to the Vatican when he said, “Our greatest mistake was religious persecution?”
Richard Stoecker lives in Sparta.