Nov 29, 2008

Huang Guangyu, Chinese Catholic Billionaire

"China's Sam Walton" disappeared on November 19, and the mystery deepened when even Xinhua, the state-owned news agency, could not get a comment from the police. It seems that Huang Guangyu's fate is being handled by the Ministry of Public Security which will consider charges that he manipulated share prices in companies with links to Gome, the company he founded. Shares of SD Jintai, a little-known pharmaceuticals group controlled by Huang's brother, Huang Junqin, soared more than 700 percent in 2007. The source also indicated that the reason for Huang's investigation is far more "complicated" than mere "stock price manipulation.

Mr. Huang Guanyu is a 39-year old billionaire who left school in his poor, mostly Catholic village at the age of 16. He now has a wife and two children who live in an apartment in an eastern suburb of Beijing. In late 2006, he and his brother were investigated by police for alleged financial irregularities involving the use of a loan to speculate in real estate, but he was released without charges.

I'm always interested in what is happening in communist China and was quite surprised to discover that Huang Guangyi is a Catholic. He commented to the Financial Times that he was "buoyed by stories from his Catholic parents about the Bible and about ancestors who had been traders throughout Asia." Huang is not a member of the Chinese Communst Party or any part of the Chinese political establishment and explained:
Even if I wanted to join the party, I do not think I would be qualified because I am a Catholic. My family has a long Catholic tradition which dates back generations."
Huang Guangyu was born in the small rice-growing village of Chaoshan in the Chaoyang District of Shantou, Guangdong on the southeast coast of China. Shantou (formerly Swatow) is a major port and the second-largest city in Guangdong Province. The city (about the size of Boston) is the location of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shantou/Swatow. The last Shantou Bishop, Charles Vogel, (Mission Etrangeres de Paris, MEP), died on April 13, 1958 and no further Bishops have been appointed under official and unofficial Communist repression.

The first Catholic missionaries in China, Matteo Ricci and Michael Ruggerius, worked for two years (1589-1591) near Shantou, in Ch'aochou. Shantou villagers have a long history of Catholicism, and some have migrated to establish new Catholic communities in Singapore and Hong Kong. In 1950 when the Communists took over, the Shantou diocese was home to 30,000 Catholics, 59 priests, and 30 parishes. Sixty-eight years later, virtually no information on Catholic statistics for Shantou can be found.

From articles on Huang over the past several years, he appears to be firmly Catholic in an atheistic country and surely has both religious and business enemies. I personally believe that Huang is a good example of Catholicism in China and has not stolen from or cheated anyone in his business dealings. But multiple newspaper accounts of his arrest (check Google News) are concerned that he is being unfairly persecuted and that his legal defense may be marginal. We'll see in the trial whether President Hu Jintao's promise of a new "rule of law" in China is actually accomplished.

December 30, 2008: It's the end of the year and Huang and his wife have been restricted from contacting anyone to discuss or publicly respond to charges. TOTAL SILENCE! Even an official Chinese website admits "Gome [Huang's company] told Xinhua the company had been unable to contact Huang." Does Huang's publicly-professed Christianity have anything to do with his arrest, imprisonment, and inability to respond to charges?

Going back two years to the LA Times profile of Huang, I was struck by the following:

"On the backs of Wang’s business cards and those of all Gome employees are Huang’s three cardinal rules:

Do not accept gifts from customers.
Do not take kickbacks.
Do not use your position for personal gain.

Printed at the very bottom is a hotline number for people to report employee misdeeds. Huang said the rules reflected his religious upbringing."

Nov 26, 2008

Cardinal Stafford: The New Ice Age

The insightful and bold Cardinal Stafford (formerly Archbishop of Denver now assigned to the Vatican where he heads the Apostolic Penitentiary) told U.S. Christians in intense and fiery language why we are in the fight of our spiritual and physical lives. Reporter John L. Allen, Jr. (who unfortunately works for the regrettable NCR) has two posts on the Cardinal's address (here and here). A portion of the Cardinal's address was posted to YouTube and attracted a great deal of (mostly negative) attention:
"Our exploration this weekend takes place in the context of Nov. 4, 2008. On that date, a cultural earthquake hit America. Senator Barak Obama was elected President of the United States. He appears to be a relaxed, smiling man. His rhetorical skills, as I mentioned, are very highly developed. He has a way of teasing crowds, and, from all reports, even individuals one-to-one.

Under all of that grace and charm, there is a tautness of will, a clenched jaw, a state of constant alertness to attack and resist any external influence that might threaten his independence. A ‘state of alertness,’ yes … that’s putting it mildly. Beneath each word he speaks, he carries on sapping operations against the enemy city.

His clenched jaw was seen at his talk before the Planned Parenthood supporters July 17, 2007. There he asserted, and I’m quoting somewhat out of context but not out of his meaning: ‘We are not only going to win this election, but also we are going to transform this nation. … The first thing I’d do as president is to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. … I put Roe at the center of my lesson plan on reproductive freedom when I taught constitutional law. … I don’t want my daughters punished by a pregnancy. … On this issue, I will not yield.’

Note the way the president-elect wished to describe the killing of his unborn grandchild. His daughters must not be ‘punished,’ ‘punished,’ by pregnancy. His rhetoric is post-modernist, and marks an agenda and vision that are aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic. Catholics weep over these words. We weep over the violence concealed behind the rhetoric of our young president-to-be. What should we do with our hot, angry tears of betrayal? First, our tears are agonistic. We must acknowledge that. For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden."
My own opinion is that the Vatican has very good intelligence on Obama's spiritual viewpoints and political goals and sees great danger for the Church. [See here for congratulations to "the first President with a completely nonreligious upbringing", as described by a well-known Humanist/Atheist.] Church leaders have decided to immediately confront Obama because they know who he is and what he would like to do about organized religion. I'm sure the Vatican intelligence service knows a lot more about Obama than we think. For example:
  • What kind of religious upbringing did Obama have from the ages of six to ten?
  • What were the spiritual viewpoints of his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. [Obama says "The values she taught me continue to be my touchstone when it comes to how I go about the world of politics."
  • What was the background of "Frank", who successfully mentored Obama on adoption of beliefs in high school?
  • What were the details of Obama's trip to Pakistan for three weeks in 1981 when US citizens were banned from entering Pakistan except for official business? [See over 11 forum pages discussing this single question here.]
  • What do friends, co-workers, and others who have heard Obama's private viewpoints say about his spiritual life and goals?
  • In private conversations, has Obama positively or negatively viewed the Catholic Church led by the successor to St. Peter and protected by the Holy Spirit? His autobiography clearly states what he thought of the Muslim and Catholic faiths while a child:
    In the Muslim school, the teacher wrote to tell my mother that I made faces during Koranic studies. My mother wasn't overly concerned. 'Be respectful,' she'd say. In the Catholic school, when it came time to pray, I would close my eyes, then peek around the room. Nothing happened. No angels descended. Just a parched old nun and 30 brown children, muttering words.
I'm guessing that the Vatican intelligence service has substantive answers to all the above questions (and many more), and may recognize Obama as a true enemy of Jesus Christ and his Church. Don't kid ourselves--we have true enemies who positively espouse human sacrifice of innocent lives that has always been associated with past ages of Satanic worship. Wikipedia has a good lesson on the history of child sacrifice.

That's the reason to include some additional comments from the final copy of Cardinal Stafford's address, as provided by John L Allen, Jr. [My emphases in bold].
President Thomas Jefferson’s celebrated 1802 letter to the committee of the Danbury Baptist Association assert[ed] “a wall of separation between Church and State” [and] introduced a latent and powerful virus which would eventually be used to diminish and then to wound mortally a theology of discourse in the public arena.

It has led to the increasingly secularized states of the American union and their active hostility towards the Catholic Church. Some of these governments are threatening Roman Catholic adoption agencies because of their refusal to select same-sex couples as potential adoptive parents. They are forcing Catholic hospitals to accept medical procedures which are contrary to the dignity of the human person. They are insisting on hiring practices which will destroy the Catholic identity of health and social services under Catholic Church auspices. They have not refrained from coercing the individual conscience. Here the federal and state governments are enshrining the primacy of secular laws over against religious principles. These decisions are the legal and moral progeny of Jefferson’s insistence on debarring personal faith from the public forum. And this is only a beginning.

In 1973 alone the U. S. Supreme Courts’ pro-abortion decision was imposed upon the nation. Its scrupulous meanness has had catastrophic effects upon the identity, unity, and integrity of the American republic. It has undermined respect for human life. We have been horrified and uncomprehending witnesses for over two generations to America’s decline from “a mansion to a dirty house in a gutted world”...

The 1973 Court’s alteration has even more radically transformed the way we think about others, especially the least among us. Its inexcusable evasions about the dignity of human life, and their prolongation to the present, have condemned those of us who oppose it to disillusionment and bitter isolation. Both Republican and Democratic partisans have abused rhetoric on this issue. The President-elect is a skillful rhetorician. Civic life has been invaded with an anti-humanism so toxic that it is proving mortal to the body politic. Nothing has been left untouched by the court’s lethal wand. Social engineering and the price-systems have infected all Americans with a pervasive, technological mind-set. Economics, administration, sexuality, language and, above all, human life are being manipulated by complex strategies of power.

After 40 years of widespread contraceptive practice, the consequences appear now as the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.... The demonic four are the following: marital infidelity; disrespect for woman, governmental despotism in the regulation of births, and the human body manipulated and destroyed as a technological artifact.... These four shades are insinuating their deathworks upon whole nations and cultures...

Governments are dissolving religious and philosophical values and remaking them into the distortions of a dominant, cybernetic model...

In the United States President - elect Barack Obama and the Vice-President-elect Joseph Biden, a Catholic, campaigned on a severe anti-life platform....

...Sometimes it seems as if modern humanity is rushing headlong toward this goal of producing itself technologically. If humanity achieves this, it will have exploded itself... into thin air, into a region where the absolutely meaningless is valued as the one and only ‘meaning’...

The Church’s response to the technological/scientific hegemony just described has not involved any condemnation of technology or of science as such. Rather is based on her recognition of the present spiritual climate for what it is: A New Ice Age....We must turn south and even return to our origins, the desert. How? By recovering the structure of truth in its relation to goodness and beauty.
Address given by J. Francis Cardinal Stafford before the International Conference to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute on Marriage and the Family at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. Please see here and here for the original and completed versions of his address.

Nov 25, 2008

FSSP and ICKSP Latin Mass Priests

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) recently updated their numbers of priests, deacons, and seminarians. The statistics are quite impressive, considering that college graduates are required to be formed for seven more years before being ordained:
  • Total members: 347
  • Total Priests: 208
  • Total Deacons: 11
  • Non-deacon seminarians: 128
  • Deceased members: 4
  • Nationalities: 26
  • Average age of members: 37 years
Founded in 1988, FSSP members are now active on four continents, 17 countries, and 102 dioceses. The Fraternity has ordained an average of 13 new priests a year since 2000 to offer the old Latin Mass, the most reverent of Catholic liturgies. FSSP seminaries are located near Denton, Nebraska and at Wigratzbad, Germany.

In 1990, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP) was formed to offer the old Latin Mass. The ICKSP has 35 houses in ten countries, 50 priests, and have trained more than 60 seminarians in 15 years. They have 13 apostolates in the U.S. staffed by ICKSP priests trained at their International Seminary near Florence, Italy.

Kansas City is fortunate to have both FSSP and ICKSP priests serving local Catholic communities. The websites of the two indult Latin Mass groups are found here and here. More information on the indult Latin Masses in Kansas City and St. Joseph is published here.

A third Latin Mass community in Kansas City is St. Vincent's Catholic Church which is staffed by priests of the irregular Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). St. Vincent's is described here and here. Rorate Coeli continues to publish the most recent news on the possible healing of the rift between the Vatican and the SSPX.