HONG KONG, JULY 9, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Martyrdom isn’t merely an event from the past, but an event that continues to inspire, says the Hong Kong diocesan weekly, the Sunday Examiner.
The newspaper reflected this week on the canonization in 2000 of 121 martyrs that had triggered conflict between the Holy See and the Chinese government at that time.
The canonization took place on Oct. 1, the National Day of China, and was viewed by Beijing as “an intentional provocation to hurt the Chinese people,” the editorial recalled.
“Ten years have passed,” it continued. “We need to consider whether anything was learned from these unfortunate disputes or did those 121 martyrs die in vain?
“Martyrdom is not merely an event of the past, but something that can inspire us today.”
“On the mainland, many local Churches still struggle to be in communion with each other,” the editorial stated. “The faithful suffer because of misguided political ideology and pressure to reject revealed truth. However, past experience has taught the Church that in every era, the presence of martyrs only strengthens the fidelity of the faithful toward the Church.
“The martyrs of China gave the ultimate witness to the Gospel with courage. Their faithfulness echoes the Confucian ideal of sacrificing oneself for a noble cause.”
The editorial recalled that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians” (Tertullian, ca. 160-220AD), and “certainly, this seed of faith will bear fruit in China.”
Among the 121 martyrs declared saints in 2000, the youngest was seven and the oldest 79, and there were 87 Chinese and 34 expatriate missionaries.
The saints, martyred between 1648 (the Qing Dynasty) and 1930 (the period of the Republic of China), including 6 bishops, 24 priests, 8 brothers, 7 religious sisters and 76 laypeople.
Today is the feast of the Chinese Martyrs, and a liturgical celebration was held at the Holy Martyrs and Blessed of China Mass Center, in the New Territories. They also attended a seminar on “How the Chinese Catholics follow the example of the Holy Martyrs and Blessed.”