An archbishop or Canton has been appointed by the Pope, indicating a remarkable breakthrough in Catholic relations with the Chinese government.
Bishop Dominic Tang of Canton has been made an archbishop. as a candidate acceptable to the Church, the Patriotic Catholics Association, and, with luck, the government.
Bishop Tang, 73, was in Rome at Pentecost. He was imprisoned for 22 years by the Chinese communists. Small and wispy, Dominic Tang's sense of humour and good spirits seem unimpaired by his long prison sentence including 8 years in solitary confinement.
He explains he maintained his
sanity during solitary confinement partly by repeating the last prayer of the spiritual exercises of the Jesuit founder St Ignatius Loyola: "Take 0 Lord and receive all my liberty. memories, understanding and my entire will all that I have and possess. You have given all to me and to you I return it ... "
One younger man asked Tang what changes should be made, in line with the Vatican Council, to adapt Catholicism to Chinese mentality. "I was in prison throughout the council" replied Tang, "and haven't yet read all the documents".
Bishop Tang did some of this training in Portugal and still speaks Portuguese as well as English. Bishop Tang said that between Christmas_ and Easter he had baptised ten young people from non-Catholic families who "had been guided along the right path by a mysterious will". Italian radio today reported that a hundred confirmations took place in China shortly.
Some mention the Vatican's relations with Taiwan as a big obstacle to relations with Peking but it seems likely that the major obstacle is Chinese authorities' fears about political direction from Rome. The most delicate question could be Catholic opposition to the regime's demographic and family policy.
Right: Archbishop Tang