Bishops, Other than the Bad Ones

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August 11, 2013 by lucieromarin

So…bishops, huh. We’ve all heard a lot about awful bishops, and I’ll admit that in the past few decades we in the West have been rather spoiled for choice as far as slackers are concerned. Still, if you only ever think of the bishops who aren’t doing their jobs, you can end up angry or depressed…or, worse, with a wannabe-bishop complex or a little apostate church all of your own. Let’s think about some good bishops for a change! And, yes, the usual caveat here: this is not an encyclopedia of the twentieth century and the men here are not the only good bishops the Church has seen in that time.

Blessed Vilmos Apor, bishop of Gyor, Hungary, 1945. He was shot in the head, hands, and stomach by Russian soldiers, for refusing to release the hundred women and girls who sheltered in his cellar for fear of rape by said soldiers.

Blessed Michael Kozal, bishop of Wloclawek, who died in Dachau.

Cardinal Ignatius Kung Pin-Mei, Bishop of Shanghai. It is impossible to do justice in a single post to this bishop, who spent over 30 years in Communist prisons. But I can tell you a good story about him. He was taken from prison one evening to a Communist dinner with a Vatican delegate. The delegate was supposed to find out whether or not Kung had changed his loyalties to the Patriotic Church. The Communists knew this, so they seated the delegate at one end of the table and Kung at the other, ensuring that they’d exchange no words. At the end of the dinner, the prisoner asked permission to sing something. Permission was granted; he rose to his feet, and chanted the antiphon, “Tu es Petrus.” The delegate had his answer.

Blessed Ignatius Maloyan, bishop of Mardin (Turkey). On June 3 1915, he was arrested with 862 Armenian Catholics. The chief of police, Mamdooh Bek, demanded their conversion to Islam. Blessed Ignatius was tortured and beaten until June 9, when he and 447 others were marched naked into the desert, and killed.

Cardinal Joszef Mindszenty, Primate of Hungary and Bishop of Esztergom. He was three times imprisoned, arrested and tortured by the Communist Government in Hungary.  One 8 Feb 1949, he was given a show trial and condemned to life imprisonment. He was released seven years later and sent into exile.

Here is another man to whom I cannot do justice! I can only say that if you ever go to Budapest, be sure to visit the House of Terror and watch the footage of this Cardinal leading the relic of St Stephen in procession before the watching soldiers.

(And here’s a frustrating tidbit; I found a website dedicated to St Pio of Pietrelcina, which stated that the saint bilocated to the Cardinal’s cell to serve Mass for him. The statement was completely unreferenced and I have absolutely no way of finding out whether or not it’s true. Please, pious people of the world, if you’re going to tell me these things, do reference them!)

Guiseppe Maria Palatucci, the Bishop of Campagna during the 1940s. He worked with two members of his family to save 961 Jewish lives in Fiume during the Second World War. His contemporaries included the Cardinal of Genoa, who hid at least 800 Jews during that time, and the Bishop of Assisi who hid 300 persons for two years. The Archbishop of Lwow publicly barred from the sacraments any Catholic who collaborated with the Nazis, and sheltered over 200 people. On 31 December, 1940, following his example, every priest in Warsaw preached a homily against anti-Semitism, and, by the end of 1943, they had sheltered about 650 Jewish children in Warsaw’s churches and convents.

St Joseph Sebastian Pelczar, Bishop of Premysl, Poland, 1920s. From his ordination to the priesthood onwards, he was dedicated to the social teachings of the Church outlined by Pope Leo XIII in the encyclical Rerum Novarum. As a priest and president of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, he opened hundreds of libraries, printed and distributed thousands of books amongst the poor, and opened a school for servants. He established the Fraternity of Our Lady, Queen of the Polish Crown, to care for the poor and the orphaned, and for apprentices, servants, and the unemployed, and founded a religious order of women to care for women and girls. As bishop, he opened soup kitchens, homeless shelters, schools for poor country girls, and offered tuition assistance to poorer and less educated seminarians.

Dominic Tang Yee-Ming, the Bishop of Canton, who was imprisoned by Communist authorities for 22 years, seven of those spent in solitary confinement.

Blessed Clement August von Galen, a cardinal who delivered such vocal opposition to the Nazi and Stalinist regimes that he won for himself the nickname, ‘The Lion of Munster.’

Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, Archbishop of Saigon. He spent 13 years in a Communist reeducation camp – nine of those years in solitary confinement – and, during that time, smuggled messages of faith to his people. They’ve since been published as ‘The Road of Hope.’

Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, Primate of the Church in Poland, who was arrested in 1953, and disappeared for two years. (By the end of 1953 in Poland, 37 priests were killed, 260 disappeared, 350 were deported, 700 imprisoned and another 700 were sent into exile.)

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