This story may receive little notice. It’s a magnificent and heroic account of noblility and dignity and faith.

“Mgr James Lin Xili, bishop of Wenzhou (Zhejiang) died on 4 October
at the age of 91. For his faith he spent 16 years in labour camps and
in recent years, though ill and immobilised in bed, he was constantly
under police surveillance. …

In 2004, on the occasion of his 60th priestly ordination, they banned him from wearing the insignia of bishops.

According to the agency UCAN, the police closed a Catholic site of
Wenzhou, guilty of having published the obituary on Msgr. Lin and
messages of condolence from the faithful. The local government was
afraid that the bishop, whose condition worsened in late September, may
have been buried on October 1, risking a rally of thousands of people
on a day on which security measures were at their maximum level, given
celebrations for the 60 years of the Republic of China.”

That statement of fact says a lot.

“Msgr. Lin Xili was ordained priest in 1944 and graduated from the
Catholic University in Beijing, the Fu Ren, in 1948. Returned to his
diocese of Ningbo, he worked in pastoral care at the beginning of the
Communist persecution.

In ‘55 he was arrested for “counterrevolutionary crimes.” For 16
years he was imprisoned in a forced labour camp, working as a cobbler.
Released in ‘71, after Mao’s death he recommenced in full his pastoral
work restoring many churches destroyed in the Cultural Revolution and
forming one of the most vibrant Catholic communities in China. In ‘92
he was ordained bishop of Wenzhou in secret and his community continued
to flourish, today counting over 100 thousand faithful.”

While politicians and politically motivated activists are grabbing
headlines around the globe, heroes like Monsignor Lin Xili have
continued to win individual hearts and minds by being a holy and
faithful shepherd.

Last week, Pope Benedict asked in a homily “is holiness still relevant?” Thankfully, the answer remains yes.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....