EDGE OF DOOM
Hong Kong's sad Mission. Sunday
MISSION Sunday this year was one of the saddest in the history of Hong Kong. Mission leaders of all societies and nations stationed in the free British Colony are witnessing at close range the slow and painful destruction of centuries of mission work in China.
Indeed, from the mission point of view, Hong Kong is something of an edge of doom. Every day, writes a Hong Kong correspondent, missioners come across the border from China : frequently they are expelled under military escort, in other Cases
they have been compelled to
leave the land of their adoption. Floating hotels
Each day brings more bad news of Bishops and priests imprisoned. of arrests and disappearances and of the confiscation of mission institutions and properties. Now and then word seeps through of the execution of some heroic Chinese priest.
China has long been the largest and in many ways the most difficult of mission fields. It is now a field from which the Church is being ruthlessly eliminated.
Latest arrest to be reported is that of Archbishop Ignatius Pi Shu-shih, 54-year-old prelate of Mukden, Manchuria. The actual date of his arrest and the pretext for his seizure are not yet known.
Archbishop Pi was consecrated in Shanghai two years ago on October 11 by the Papal lnternuncio to China. the now expelled Archbishop Antonio Riberi. He returned immediately to his diocese. one of the earliest to fall behind the Communist iron curtain.
The arrest of Archbishop Pi reemphasises the fact that the persecution of the Church in China is not limited to the imprisonment and expulsion of foreign missionaries. Three other native Ordinaries have been imprisoned and more than 200 of the Chinese priests are in Cornmunist jails at the present time. A dozen or more priests have faced the firing squad during the past year on trumped-up charges that attempt to represent their ministry to the Christians as counter-revolutionary activities.
Others have died in prison or after their release as a result of the treatment they were given in jail.
The whole of the priests. including the Bishop, are now under arrest in the diocese of Kangting, Szechwan. It is one of the smallest and most remote dioceses, with a Catholic population of some 5.000. The activity of foreign missioners in China has been most stringently curtailed: although the missioners now witness to Christ through their sufferings. imprisonment and patience. the prospects are that in a matter of months the foreign missions in China will all be expelled or jailed. The entire burden will then pass to the Chinese Hierarchy and the more than 2.500 Chinese priests, In all the sadness of this Mission Sunday in Hong Kong there is still some measure of optimism. The faith is deeply planted in China and the expelled missionaries generally are optimistic in the long view.. "Some day." they say, " we will go hack and there will be a rich harvest."
There is other optimism, too, based on the heroic fidelity and devotion of the Catholic people. priests and Hierarchy in China. The Church has never failed to produce heroes in times of persecution. From this point of view, a great page is being added in China to her long history and tradition.