Precinct 333

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Bishop Julius Jia -- Faith, Hope, And Love In China

Bishop Julius Jia is a leading figure of the underground Catholic Church in the People's Republic of China. He will likely be jailed in the next few days, as he was at Easter, to prevent him from marking the Christmas holiday with his flock, which numbers about 1.5 million.
Government restrictions on the bishop's movements mean that he lives under house arrest in a tiny, whitewashed house near Wuqiu, a poor village where he founded an orphanage for unwanted children in 1991. Yet Bishop Jia frequently circumvents the order by going out to say Mass, often hiding in the back of a car.

His "diocese" is widely acknowledged to have the largest following in the province; in the middle of Wuqiu, a red-brick cathedral has been built, albeit without official approval.

Yet despite the official persecution, Bishop Jia's hope is intact and his spirit unbowed.
The Pope is known to have made one Chinese clergyman a cardinal in pectore - that is, a secret appointment - and Bishop Jia is widely believed to be that man. He is crucial to any further attempts to reconcile Beijing and the Vatican. And while the government harasses Bishop Jia, it has been unable to crush his spirit.

"For my followers, there are great risks, and I do bring them into danger sometimes," he says. "They are never scared so I don't worry. After all we know God will take care of us."

This man's life exempifies the gifts of faith, hope, and love that St. Paul talks about in I Corinthians 13. So do his people. Would that each of us did as well.

I leave you with two requests.

First, pray for the persecuted Church.

Second, ask yourself why the American media doesn't tell us of such human rights abuses.


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