Catholic priests are human and fallible, like everyone. But sometimes they’re outright heroes.
Romero reminds me of Cardinal Ignatius Kung Pin Mei, a prisoner of the Chinese government, who told them, “I am a Roman Catholic Bishop. If I denounce the Holy Father, not only would I not be a Bishop, I would not even be a Catholic. You can cut off my head, but you can never take away my duties.” After his arrest, Kung was taken to a Shanghai sports stadium where he was expected to confess his “crimes.” Instead, with his hands tied behind his back, he spoke strongly into the mic, saying, “Long live Christ the King! Long live the Pope!”
The crowd repeated his words, adding, “Long live Bishop Kung!” He spent 30 years in prison, much of it in solitary confinement.
Kung’s story brings to mind the Archbishop of Saigon, Francis Xavier Nguyn Van Thuan, imprisoned for 13 years, celebrating Mass in his solitary cell with drops of wine, crumbs of bread, and a wire crucifix he had made himself.
Kung was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II, the priest who lived under the jackboots of both Nazism and Communism and who understood that the answer to flawed, imperfect capitalism or unjust societies was not the crushing of human liberty — the pope who inspired the oppressed people of Poland to demand, over and over, “We want God!”
I could go on naming heroic priests throughout the ages — priests who were heroes because they persevered in wartime, or worked against oppression, or risked life and health in order to bring Christ to sick. Lots of heroic priests have come down through the years, and we don’t always know their names, because they were simply quiet, holy priests, doing their duty.
Where do we get such men? Their parents raise them, and form them in the faith, but as Archbishop Timothy Dolan tells us, their priesthoods, their willingness to put themselves out there and at risk for the gospel, and for ministry, is “pure gift from God…”
Amen. Give us many more such gifts, Lord, we need them. Your people need them.
Support Aleteia! It only takes a minute.
If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.
Here are some numbers:
- 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
- Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
- Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
- Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
- Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
- We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)
As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.
Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!