Underground Catholic bishop dies in China

CNA Staff, Dec 31, 2020 / 03:25 pm (CNA).- According to the Catholic outlet AsiaNews, headquartered in Rome, Bishop Andrea Han Jingtao, 99, a leader in the underground Catholic Church in China, died Dec. 30. Han Jingtao was the underground Bishop of Siping.

In his early years growing up in a Catholic family, Han received a high-quality formation and education from the Canadian missionaries of Quebec, who ran the apostolic vicariate in his region of China before the communist revolution.

After Mao Zedong took power, the late bishop was sent to a concentration camp where he would be imprisoned for 27 years (1953-1980) “for refusing to participate in the ‘independent and autonomous’ Church, as Mao Zedong wanted,” AsiaNews reports.

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Father Reginald Foster, Requiescat in Pace

Father Reginald Foster, O.C.D, died on Christmas Eve from complications arising from Covid-19. (Yes, I know – people across America are dying with bullet wounds and head trauma, falls, heart attacks, and what not else from ‘Covid’, but we might trust this one, for now).

But whatever it was that took his soul to God, his death marks the end of an era, and I thought I would squeak in a little Ave atque Vale for Father Foster before this year came to a close. He was one of the foremost Latinists of the 20th century. A brilliant student, the young priest was appointed the Pope’s chief Latinist in 1969, responsible for composing and translating pontifical and Magisterial documents of all sorts, as well as teaching generations of students at the Gregorian. I suppose for those outside the Church’s fold – and, sadly, even for many within – a ‘Latinist’ might signify expertise in Spanish-Hispanic-Mexican-Argentinian culture – like, say, Hilaria Baldwin – but no. Father Foster was a peritus in the linguam Latinam of the ancient Romans, and before them the Etruscans, which was in turn adopted by the Catholic Church in the late fourth century, and then by the Christian culture and civilization that the Church formed and founded.

I’ve often thought that Father Foster had a near-ideal job: Living at the Vatican, immersed in the Church’s teaching, precise translations – with one’s days off hiking in the Dolomites or plunging into the Mediterranean, or wandering the streets and monuments of the Eternal City. I have dreamt that one day, perhaps…But I am a victim of our cultural loss of Latin, and any British schoolboy of 1910 or so would mop the floor with my smattering.

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