On September 8, 1955, the international news agencies reported from Shanghai the overnight arrest by Communist officials of the city's Catholic bishop, Ignatius Kung Pin-mei, and of 200 Catholic priests. Several months later Bishop Kung was hauled before a crowd in a dog-racing stadium in Shanghai to confess his crimes and denounce the pope. Standing with his hands tied behind his back, he shocked the security police by proclaiming into the microphone: "Long live Christ the King. Long live the pope."Many in the crowd echoed the chant, and Bishop Kung was abruptly dragged away by police and not seen in public until four years later, when he was put on trial as an enemy of the Communist government and sentenced to life imprisonment. This story, told by Kung's nephew, Joseph Kung, who looked after the Roman Catholic Cardinal in his final years, reveals one defining moment in a long life marked by dedication to human rights, loyalty to the pope and open defiance of Communist rule in China. Cardinal Kung died in the early hours of March 12 in Stamford, in the US state of Connecticut where he had lived with his nephew since 1988. At the age of 98 years, Ignatius Kung was the Catholic Church's oldest cardinal. Kung spent 30 years in prison for defying the Communist government's attempt to control Roman Catholics through a state-run church. Throughout that period and until his death, he retained the titles of bishop of Shanghai and apostolic administrator of Suzhou (which the Vatican had conferred on him in 1949, only six days after the Communists came to power). Joseph Kung told Ecumenical News International (ENI) his uncle's greatest gift to the world was a simple message: "Trust God and practice religion according to your conscience."That's ...

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