02/25/2010, 00.00
CHINA – VATICAN
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Waiting for the beatification of Card Kung Pin-mei ten years after his death

by Annie Lam
Pope John Paul II appointed him cardinal in pectore in 1979 when he was purging a life sentence for “counterrevolutionary activities”. Overall, he spent almost 33 years in prison and died in exile in the United States. A memorial Mass will be celebrated on 6 March in Stamford.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Many Catholics, lay people as well as priests, are praying for Card Ignatius Kung Pin-mei, ten years after his death, hoping that the cause for his beatification may start soon. The Kung Foundation, which is chaired Cardinal Kung’s own nephew Joseph Kung, has led the initiative through a petition. A thanksgiving Mass will take place on 6 March at the Basilica of St John the Evangelist, Stamford, Connecticut, where the prelate died in 2000 in exile. Bishop William Lori, bishop of Bridgeport, will celebrate the liturgy.

In a press release, the Foundation said that the Mass would be dedicated to religious freedom around the world, especially form the Church in China, as well as to the petition that “Cardinal Kung may be raised to the honour of Blessed.”

Anthony Lam Sui-ki, senior researcher at the Holy Spirit Study Centre of Hong Kong diocese, said that Cardinal Kung was always a good model of faith for Chinese Catholics. Everyone remembers him for that.

On the canonisation issue, Lam said that he hoped the Chinese government would take the matter easy and look from the Church point of view. “To canonize someone is to let others have a good model of faith,” he noted.

In 2000, the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the Chinese government launched a campaign of insults against the Vatican when the latter decided to canonise Chinese martyrs.

Ignatius Kung Pin-mei was born in Shanghai on 2 August 1900 into a Catholic family. Ordained a priest in 1930, he was appointed bishop of Shanghai in 1950.

On 8 September 1955, he was arrested along with more than 200 members of the clergy and the laity. He was sentenced to life in prison and spent almost 33 years behind bars for “counter-revolutionary activities” according to the charges of the Chinese government.

Following pressures from international VIPs, he was released in July 1985 and placed under house arrest until 1988, when he travelled to the United States for medical treatment.

In 1979, Pope John Paul II named the then-imprisoned bishop of Shanghai a cardinal in pectore (in the heart), revealing it publicly (and to him) only in 1991.

In March 1998, his passport was seized when he went to renew it at the Chinese consulate, so that he was now officially an exile.

He died on 12 March 2000 from stomach cancer.

Photo: Kung Foundation

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