Remembering a Pilgrim on His Centennial: Archbishop Stanislaus Lo Kuang
Translated by Purple Kwong
1. Lo Kuang (羅光), the Hunan Catholic
Lo Kuang claimed that he was born on New Year's day of the first year in the Republic of China (ROC) calendar. A secretary, who had served him for several years said that his actual date of birth was on December twenty-something of the year previous to the first year of the ROC calendar. People in those days used the lunar calendar, so it is not certain what the actual date was. Lo Kuang thus designated January 1 of ROC 1 (1912) to be his birthday. The reason was simple — it was easy to remember. As a result, Lo Kuang was born on the same day as the Republic of China.
Lo Kuang's hometown was Hengyang in Hunan Province, or more precisely in Doupoting, a village belonging to Hengyang City. Lo did not say much in his memoirs about his religious experiences at home. He should be a fifth or sixth generation Catholic in the Lo linear family in Nanxiang (South Village) in Hengyang. Actually, Lo Kuang wrote more about his grandmother from the Guo (郭) family, which had a history of generations of being Catholics in Beixiang (North Village) in Hengyang. As he remembered it, this grandmother was the center of the family's religious faith. All in all, Lo Kuang was from a very religious Catholic family, and their faith was expressed through daily prayers, attending Sunday Mass, and celebrating Church feast days.
Since 1840, Hunan and Hubei provinces were mission districts entrusted to the Italian Franciscans. That was usual practice of Catholic missions in China in the 19th century. Rome assigned missionaries from a particular province of a certain religious order to take charge of missionary work in each prefecture or vicariate apostolic. Missionaries from other congregations would not usually work in that particular mission district. But there would be local diocesan priests there. Hengyang originally belonged to the Changsha Vicariate Apostolic. It was not until 1930 that Hengyang became a Vicariate Apostolic in its own right. In fact Hengyang was the hub of activity of the Catholic Church in Hunan Province. It had the largest number of Catholics in Hunan, and the longest period of glorious days. Lo Kuang was from this multi-generation community of Catholics.
Before the Xinhai Revolution (the Chinese Revolution of 1911), Hunan and Hubei were centers for the reformers. There is only a slight difference between reform and revolution; it all depends on the attitude of the participants. In his memoirs, Lo Kuang said he did not remember anything about the destruction brought by the warlords in the early years of the Republic of China. All he recalled was the village life of a well-off peasant family. “As a child, I found both village and city life peaceful, without any hardship. During some years, the Xiang River overflowed and Nanxiang was flooded, but the flood had never affected my home. During other years there was drought, and my uncles had to toil to transport water to our area. The harvest was poor, but we never experienced famine.” In 1926, the Chinese Nationalist Party (the Kuomingtang or KMT) army entered Changsha. Since it was a time of KMT-CCP (Chinese Communist Party) collaboration, the hidden communists instantly appeared in various places throughout Hunan. They undertook “land reform” and “class struggle” campaigns. Lo Kuang remembered these clearly: “The communists organized the farmers' association and some hoodlums in the village to lead the cry against landlords and certain members of the gentry class. They kidnapped a few landlords and people of standing in the village. Although the communists were expelled from the KMT, and the CCP eventually disappeared, bandits were always roaming around my hometown and peace was gone forever.” That was a common experience of Chinese people in those days.
2. Lo Kuang, the seminarian
In Nanxiang of Hengyang, there was Yude Primary School, and in the city was Renai Primary School; both were Catholic schools. Lo Kuang at first studied in Yude School, but then the school closed down, so he went to the city to study at Renai School. There he completed his primary school education. In 1923, he entered Sacred Heart Seminary in Huangshawan and became a minor seminarian. According to Lo Kuang, his vocation path was like this: “I applied first to Xihu Secondary School, but my English was poor and I was rejected. Then I applied to Xinmin Secondary School and was admitted… My uncle thought that the school was not good enough, and he suggested that I enter the seminary, and offer myself to the Church.” This simple narration shows that Lo Kuang had no objection to becoming a priest, but he entered the seminary simply because of his filial obedience to the elders in his family. In a family, which was Catholic for many generations, Lo Kuang's success in becoming a priest would bring honor to the Lo family.
As mentioned earlier, many things happened in Hunan Province after 1926, and Lo Kuang's years in Sacred Heart Seminary were not peaceful. In two or three instances he had to escape from the soldiers. The first Chinese bishop that Lo Kuang met was Bishop Cheng Hede, Vicar Apostolic of Puqi. Bishop Cheng was among the first group of six Chinese bishops ordained after Archbishop Celso Costantini came to China as Apostolic Delegate. In 1928, Rapha?l Pallazi was ordained Coadjutor Bishop of the of Changsha Vicariate Apostolic; Bishop Cheng was invited to participate, but he fell ill on the way, and died in Hengyang three days after Raphael Pallazi was ordained bishop. (Lo Kuang recalled that it was due to the erection of Hengyang Vicar Apostolic, but in fact Hengyang Vicar Apostolic was established in June 1930).
The minor seminary closed in 1929. The Franciscans of Hunan and Hupei together founded a major seminary in Hankou. Bishop Pallazi sent seminarian Guo Fan to the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome for further study, while Lo Kuang and other seminarians went to Hankou. When they arrived in Changsha, they found out that Bishop Pallazi had received a telegram from Archbishop Costantini, requesting that one more seminarian be sent to Rome; Lo Kuang was chosen. He only stayed in Hankou for three days and then travelled to Shanghai. In October 1929, he went to Rome to study at the Pontifical Urbaniana University. Since then he never returned to China.
These episodes of Lo Kuang were related to Costantini, who was Apostolic Delegate of the Holy See to China. Although not actually an ambassador, the function was similar. The main purpose of Costantini's
mission to China was to eliminate the impact of European imperialism on the Church in China, and to promote the normal development of the Church there. With this purpose in mind, the ordination of the first group of six Chinese bishops and the sending of outstanding Chinese seminarians to Rome to study were carried out under this plan. At that time the young Lo Kuang did not realize that the Church in China was in a period of transition, but not long afterwards he began to conscientiously play his role in the history of his time.
Lo Kuang casually described his years of study in Rome in this way: “The professors taught in Latin, and it was not difficult to listen to their lectures.” In April 1931 Pope Pius XI blessed the dormitory building of the Pontifical Urbaniana University. Lo enthusiastically described the ceremony in great detail. He mentioned that the pope asked the rector of the university: “You must have about 25 Chinese students here, right?” This particular remark was a sign of the pope's concern for the Church in China. That Lo Kuang made note of it shows that he was aware that he was among the cream of the Church in China that received formation in Rome.
3. Lo Kuang, the priest
In February 1936, Lo Kuang was ordained to the priesthood in the Urbaniana University. He continued to stay in Rome because he was pursuing a degree in law. As a person of great ideals, Lo was reluctant to return to China immediately after becoming a priest. It so happened that a Chinese priest who should have reported for duty to the Urbaniana University as professor of Chinese did not show up; consequently Propaganda Fide appointed Lo Kuang to the post. Lo therefore continued to stay on in Rome. Lo said: “After ordination to the priesthood, I stayed at my alma mater for another seven years.”
The principal duty of this Chinese priest who stayed in Rome was to teach in the university, and the secondary purpose was to pursue his doctoral degree in Canon Law. But he never forgot his identity as a priest. He prayed every day, said the Rosary, recited the breviary, and made his meditation and examination of conscience. In the early morning on weekdays he would say Mass in a convent, and on Sundays he said Mass in a nearby parish and heard confessions. This was Lo Kuang, who fulfilled all his duties as a priest. People could not find fault with him. He was a disciplined person; he fixed his schedule for each day, each week and each month, and he would perform his duties effectively without being interrupted.
His schedule was already very tight, but Lo Kuang never forgot that he was among the most educated of Chinese priests. Even though the Holy See had its apostolic delegate in China, he felt that it was regrettable for the Church in China that China and the Vatican still had not established formal diplomatic relations. Lo Kuang remembered Lou Tseng-Tsiang, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Prime Minister of the Republic of China, and by then a Benedictine monk in the Abbey of Saint-Andre-les-Bruges in Belgium. While still a seminarian, Lo Kuang already had frequent correspondence with Lou, from whom he learned a lot about foreign affairs. At the same time, after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937, upon the request of Chiang Kai-shek, Bishop Yu Bin went to Europe and the United States on diplomatic business. He also took the chance to promote China-Vatican relations. With this background, after the death of Pope Pius XI in February 1939, Lo Kuang for the first time got involved in China-Vatican diplomatic affairs.
In The Biography of Lou Tseng-Tsiang,
Lo Kuang recalled those events: “On March 2, our present Pope Pius XII was elected. Nations around the world were getting ready to send their envoys to attend the ceremony of installation to be held on March 12. I hurriedly wrote to Lou Tseng-Tsiang, and asked him to urge the Chinese government to send an envoy to the Pope's inauguration ceremony. I even suggested that diplomats Vi Kyuin Koo or Qian Tai would be appropriate.” Lou Tseng-Tsiang agreed with this suggestion. He asked the Chinese embassy in Poland to telephone the central government in China to request that they send an envoy to the Vatican for the occasion. The Chinese ambassador to France Vi Kyuin Koo led a delegation to Rome on March 31. In his diary, Lo Kuang casually mentioned attending the coronation ceremony of the Pope. But in his diary he did not mention about his contribution in suggesting the sending of a Chinese delegation. From then onwards, Lo had moved from one who cared about China-Vatican diplomatic relations to one who took an active part in it.
Lo Kuang's actual involvement in China-Vatican diplomatic relations dated back to January 1943, with the setting up of the Chinese embassy in the Vatican. Hsieh Shou-Kang, the first Chinese Minister Plenipotentiary, invited Lo Kuang to be the “consultant on religious affairs”. At that time Lo Kuang's ability only allowed to act in a supporting position. He was not yet up to the level of an independent worker. We can see that Bishop Yu Bin had a better network within the Chinese government and in the Vatican. Cardinal Celso Costantini was Secretary of the Congregation for Propagation of Faith and took part in policy making in the Vatican. Lo Kuang still had a lot to learn from Lou Tseng-Tsiang about aspects of foreign affairs. Nevertheless, all of them held similar views regarding the development of the Church in China. Lo Kuang learned a lot from them, and in the meantime he built up his own network and relations.
In his supporting role, Lo Kuang participated in some major events in the history of the Church in China. The first event took place after the Second World War. The Vatican officially assigned an Apostolic Internuncio to China. Lo Kuang's suggestion that Antonio Ribeiri be the first Vatican nuncio to China was accepted. The second event was the establishment of the Church hierarchy in China. In 1946, all the Vicariates Apostolic in China were raised to the status of Dioceses, with the establishment of an archdiocese in each province. At that time, there was a saying that in the future all the archbishops of the 20 archdioceses would be Chinese, and an additional saying said that Lo Kuang would be the archbishop of Hankou. However, it turned out that only the archbishops of Beiping, Nanjing and Nanchang were Chinese. The third significant event that Lo Kuang experienced was the pope's appointment of Tien Ken-hsin as the first Chinese cardinal bishop, simultaneously becoming the first Asian cardinal bishop. Lo Kuang did not play any part in this event, since “his group” had in mind Lou Tseng-Tsiang or Yu Bin as the candidate for the cardinalate. It had never occurred to them that the pope would appoint the humble, low-profile Tien Ken-hsin to that position.
In January 1947, the second Chinese Minister Plenipotentiary to the Vatican, Wu Ching-Hsiung arrived in Rome. For a time Lo Kuang considered returning home, but after some hesitation he eventually stayed behind as consultant for religious affairs. Since the beginning of the war, Wu Ching-Hsiung had been translating the Bible. He began with the Psalms.
Gaining good comments, he continued with a translation of the New Testament, but the feedback from this was both positive and negative. The main reason was that Wu excelled in both English and French, but he did not master Latin and Greek. Thus some foreign missionaries considered him not up to the task. One of the purposes Wu was assigned to the Vatican was because the Vatican had a Biblical Commission, and if Wu had any questions, he could get an authoritive answer from the Commission. Lo Kuang of course provided a helping hand in Wu's translation of the Bible. Lo recalled: “Wu did a lot of work in translating the Bible, and the translation he brought to me was already a third draft. I compared his translation with other Chinese translations, and with versions in English, French, Italian, German, Latin and Greek. I would identify problematic sentences and discuss them with him. He would reconsider my opinion and amend those sentences.” People familiar with the development of the Chinese Bible would certainly know of Wu Ching-Hsiung, but it would not have come to anybody's mind that Lo Kuang also played a role in the translation of the Bible.
After World War Two, China faced drastic changes. Lo Kuang, who helped in Bible translation, and Wu Ching-Hsiung, who was working on Bible translation, also felt the pressure. News about the situation in China worried them. Their sources of news came from many countries, and some of it was about the civil war in China between the KMT and the CCP. After 1948, the Communist army seemed to be gaining the upper-hand. In territories occupied by the communists, the dioceses faced religious persecution. Confronted by communist parties in various countries, including Italy, Pope Pius XII decided to be firm. He requested that church leaders in all countries “remain in their places”. Since church leaders had to remain in place, in early 1948, the Vatican rejected Tien Ken-hsin's plan of going to the United States. They even did not approve of Tien's
going to Rome for an ad limina visit. But persuaded by various people, Tien went to Shanghai in June. Because of this, Riberi and Tien confronted each other. In December of that same year, Yu Bin went to the States again, but before that he first went to Rome. At first Pope Pius XII did not want to meet him. But after Lo Kuang asked various people to mediate, the pope reluctantly agreed to receive Yu Bin. At that time, rapid change was taking place in China. Riberi finally agreed to evacuate hundreds of seminarians and young priests from China. Tien Ken-hsin left Beiping and Yu Bin left Nanjing, and never returned to their dioceses again. In the eyes of Pius XII, both Tien and Yu had not performed their duty of taking care of their flocks. Yu Bin became unpopular in Rome. By May 1949, Wu Ching-Hsiung, after considering various factors, especially his family situation, decided to resign; Lou Tseng-Tsiang also passed away early that year. Consequently, among those who had given much guidance to Lo Kuang in the past, Costantini was now the only person that Lo could rely on. Lo remained in the embassy without a nuncio. The Chinese government then appointed Chu Ying, first secretary of the Chinese embassy in Italy, to be the Minister Plenipotentiary in the Vatican.
Lo described this desolate scene: “We did not hear from Wu again after he left. As for myself, I only played the role of a consultant, and apart from that, I spent my time in study and writing…. When our nation was strong, people came up to me on all occasions, and they also appeared very warm to me. But after our government retreated to Taiwan, very few people came to me, and at most they were only expressing some sympathy for China.” Lo remained in this embassy without an envoy for five years. During this period the Korean War broke out, and in the light of this new strategic global relationship, Taiwan's
situation was suddenly stabilized. Antonio Riberi who steadfastly remained in China to perform his duties, was expelled by the Chinese Communist regime in September 1951. He then stayed in Hong Kong, until October 1952. On the pretext of consecrating Fr. Joseph Kuo as archbishop of Taipei, Riberi went to Taiwan. There he re-established the “Vatican embassy to China.” Nevertheless, the government of the Republic of China in Taiwan postponed the sending of an envoy to the Vatican. It was only until October 1954 that Hsieh Shou-Kang was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary of the Republic of China to the Vatican again. Lo Kuang said: “Hsieh came to the Vatican for the second time, … and the social status of the embassy ebbed and flowed with the fate of the nation. Losing the vast stretch of territory in mainland China and relocating to Taiwan, the Republic of China did not have a place in the international arena, and even the embassy did not have any standing diplomatically. Hsieh did not have many social functions to attend.
When Lo Kuang wrote about his particular situation, he said: “When Cardinal Costantini was Secretary of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, he often asked me to return to China, and he even elaborated, ‘You return to China to spread the Gospel, and you can be of much help to us. It is difficult for the Holy See to send a diplomat to be the bishop of a diocese.’ Cardinal Costantini treated me as a father treated his son (these were Costantini's exact words). A father is always happy to see his son promoted to a higher rank and become famous. But God's wisdom is not human wisdom. … Some people teased me saying that I am spiritual, but at the same time secular, wanting to gain official rank. People who know the whole picture would know that these words are nonsense.” Becoming an official, in Lo Kuang's case, could refer to two types, one was holding office in the Church, that is, to become a bishop, and the other was to become a government official and be a diplomat. What I meant by knowing the whole picture was that the Church would not designate a church affairs consultant to be a bishop, and the government would not formally assign a clergyman to be a diplomat. In that situation, then, why did Lo Kuang still stay in Rome? I assume we can say that he had no home to return to!
4. Lo Kuang, the Bishop of Tainan
From 1950s to 60s, there was not much change in the diplomatic situation of Taiwan. Pope Pius XII died in October 1958, and the Archbishop of Venice Cardinal Angelo Guiseppe Roncalli was elected to succeed as Pius as pope, choosing the name John XXIII. He had a positive and friendly manner towards the Church in Taiwan. First of all, he assigned Yu Bin to be Chancellor of Fu Jen Catholic University, which was preparing for its restoration in Taiwan, and assigned Cardinal Tien Ken-hsin to be archbishop of Taipei. These two Chinese church leader, who were living in the United States now had new-found positions in Taiwan. Through liaison between Chinese and Vatican foreign affairs units, the Republic of China's representation in the Vatican was raised to the status of an embassy. Furthermore, to Lo Kuang's surprise, in March 1961, he was appointed bishop of the newly erected Diocese of Tainan (when he was just a church affairs consultant and not well known, either in the Vatican or in the ROC). Tainan Diocese was detached from the Kaohsiung prefecture apostolic, with Tainan County as the boundary line. At that same time the Kaohsiung prefecture was raised to the status of a diocese and Cheng Tien-Siang, O.P. was appointed bishop. The Hsinchu Diocese was also erected, covering Taoyuan, Hsinchu and Miaoli counties, which had been separated delineated from the Taipei archdiocese, with Tou Pao-Jin, Secretary of the Pontifical Urbaniana University, as bishop.
Lo Kuang at first hesitated upon being invited to be a bishop in Taiwan. He described how he felt when he got the news: “On March 24, Cardinal Agagianian, Prefect of the Congregation for Propagation of the Faith, summoned me and told me that the pope appointed me to be bishop of the Tainan Diocese. I desired to resist the appointment, but the will of the Pope was the will of God, which I did not want to violate. Moreover, if I declined the invitation, people might think that I wanted to continue the comfortable life I had in Rome, and did not want to labor in Taiwan. Thus although I was worried to tears at this news, I still accepted the appointment.” From this we can see that going to Taiwan, or precisely going to Tainan, was not Lo Kuang's first wish. Was Lo Kuang really sympathetic to Taiwan, which bore the name of “Free China”? Up to that time, Lo Kuang's only experience of Taiwan was when he accompanied Tien Ken-hsin to Taiwan as secretary, when the latter visited Taiwan for the first time in September 1957. At that time agriculture was still the main economic activity in Taiwan, and the way of life was totally different from Rome. Psychologically Lo Kuang did not feel connected to Taiwan; perhaps returning to his homeland in Hunan was his real heart's desire. But it was impossible for him to return to the mainland. Finally, he reluctantly consented to go to Tainan in Taiwan.
On May 21, 1961, three Chinese priests, namely Lo Kuang, Tou Pao-Jin and Cheng Tien-Siang, were ordained bishops by Pope John XXIII in St. Peter's Basilica. This somehow repeated the ordination of the first group of six Chinese bishops in 1926, which demonstrated the Holy Father's
love for “Free China”. On September 8, 1961, Lo Kuang arrived in Tainan, and on that evening he went to see the residence that the Dominican Fathers had prepared for him: “… It was a small place with two rooms on the upper floor and the lower floor, and I would use the one on the upper floor… When I raised my head I saw a long signboard on the upper floor, with the name of a Protestant Church on it. The board was surrounded by bright neon lights. I entered the room, and afterwards stated clearly to the nuncio and to Bishop Cheng (who were accompanying me) that I could not live there, otherwise the people of Tainan would think that I was bishop of the Protestant Church. … At night, I said the Rosary by myself, gradually calmed down, switched off the light, and went to sleep. In fact my frustration had long gone already, and I laughed at myself, ‘See, you will be inaugurated tomorrow and become bishop of Tainan, but on the first day you don't even have a residence, just like Jesus when he was born in Bethlehem, there was no room for him.’ Then I continued, ‘I am so much better than Jesus! I have somebody who gives me a place to stay, and they are the best two rooms of their congregation.’”
Not long after Lo Kuang arrived in Tainan, the most important event of the Catholic Church in the 20th century took place — Vatican Council II. Lo Kuang was already taking part in the preparation work in Rome before he became a bishop. After the Council started, Lo Kuang was a member of the Commission on Mission. He said, “I joined the meeting of the Commission on Mission, and I found myself most fortunate because I attended the first meeting up to the very last meeting.” About Vatican Council II, Lo remarked that the first phase was a “beginner's” meeting; “nobody knows how a Council should proceed.” Then the Council gradually got on the track, and in the following three stages of the Council, we were gradually able to consolidate different views. In a newsletter during the second stage of the Council, Lo Kuang expressed his feelings about the Council, “The love of Christ, and the need of the Church, were always in the hearts of the bishops. … Every one of us bishops who are taking part in the Council benefit both spiritually and intellectually, especially in the plenary sessions, we use our senses and experience to know our Church better.”
Lo Kuang took part in the meetings of the Commission for Missions, and helped to complete the Decree Ad Gentes: On the Missionary Activity of the Church. “Ad Gentes includes both the theory and the actual pattern of mission activity. … This Decree particularly attributes missionary work basically to Jesus Christ, with the spirit of Jesus as its spirit, and the objectives of Jesus as its objective. Furthermore, since missionary work is the work of Jesus, thus the whole Church, from the Pope, the bishops, extending to priests, Sisters, and the laity, everybody has the duty to carry out missionary work.”
While going through the various phases of the Council, Lo Kuang gradually developed his affection for the Tainan Diocese. This was expressed through writing, because during the third and fourth stages of the Council, Lo frequently wrote letters to priests of the diocese, reporting to them the things that were going on in the Council, pointing out those things that would be beneficial to the building up of Tainan Diocese. Lo Kuang was good in administration, planning and implementation. More importantly, due to his summons, many overseas Chinese priests joined the Tainan Diocese. Thus the diocese was enriched, and many new ministries were started. These priests were those who had escaped from mainland China, or who studied and were ordained priests in Europe in the 1950s. They chose to go to Taiwan and to serve in Tainan Diocese. Although these priests might not be residing in the bishop's house, during meals they often gathered in the bishop's house. “There were often more than ten priests having meals together, and they had come from the north, east, south and west of China, including Hebei in the north, Hunan in the south, Zhejiang in the east, and Shanxi in the west.”
Lo Kuang built a cathedral in Tainan in Chinese architectural style, with “Our Lady Queen of China” as the patron saint. “Built in accordance with the topography, the cathedral was hexagonal in shape. The architect adopted the style of a Chinese palace. The interior decoration followed that of a Roman basilica.” Lo Kuang described his experience of holding Mass in Our Lady Queen of China Cathedral in this way: “Seated in the bishop's chair (cathedra), I am in the central high position of the church, where I can see all the parishioners, and feel that I am hosting the liturgy. When I go to the altar and face the faithful, and we recite our parts in the prayers of the liturgy, I know that everyone in the church is taking part in the liturgy. When I raise the host and the chalice, and look up at the dome, I can feel that I am offering everyone and everything to God in heaven. I have been offering Mass for thirty years, and it us only in the cathedral of Tainan that I can experience the real meaning of the Mass.”
Besides building a church, Lo Kuang also set up an “activity center for university students” in Tainan, especially for students of the National Cheng Kung University. Catholic architecture students from Cheng Kung University did the design and layout drawing, and supervised the construction of the center. Lo Kuang borrowed money from some priests to build it. The construction was completed a year after Lo Kuang was installed as Bishop of Tainan. Some prominent laity of the Church in Taiwan were formed in the faith at this center. Why was Lo Kuang particularly fond of young Catholic university students? He said: “People said that I have taught in university for 25 years, and I like to study, that's
why I am particularly fond of university students.” Lo Kuang did not deny such words. Moreover, he also set up “St. Pius Seminary”, which also commenced a year after his installation as bishop. A particular characteristic of this seminary is that it is a seminary of adults, because at the very start 6 seminarians were over 30 years old. The coming together of this batch of adult seminarians was due to the unique situation of the Church in Taiwan at that time. Generally speaking, the faith in a new mission area is not so stable, and it was difficult to find the seeds of a vocation among the children of new converts. Conversely, it was easier to find vocations from among the first generation of Catholic refugees.
5. Lo Kuang, Archbishop of Taipei
On May 15, 1966, Lo Kuang left Tainan and went to Taipei to be the archbishop there. A year and a half earlier, due to poor health, Cardinal Tien Ken-hsin applied to Propaganda Fide to assign Lo Kuang to be coadjutor bishop of Taipei. In the meantime Tien's health deteriorated badly. He decided to resign, and retired to the Divine Word Missionaries house in Chiayi for nursing care. Therefore Lo Kuang directly succeeded Cardinal Tien as Archbishop of Taipei. On the one hand, Lo felt sad to leave Tainan, but on the other hand, he was willing to take up the position of Archbishop of Taipei, which was the most important post in the Church in Taiwan.
Before Lo Kuang officially took up the position of Archbishop of Taipei, in March 1966, he went to meet Pope Paul VI. At that meeting he told the Pope his observations about the Archdiocese of Taipei. He said, “The Chinese priests of the Archdiocese of Taipei have come from various provinces of mainland China, were trained in different seminaries, and their formations are very different.” The pope encouraged Lo Kuang to shoulder this “very heavy but glorious Cross”, and “your responsibility is to conduct this orchestra.”
On March 28, 1969, the pope promulgated a list of 33 new cardinals; Yu Bin was the first on the list. The pope's conversation with Lo Kuang had somehow hinted that Yu Bin would be chosen, and Lo Kuang was a bit disappointed. But from the pope's affirmation of him, he felt that there would be another chance, and he could look forward to becoming a cardinal in the future.
Lo Kuang considered that his major work in Taipei was to organize the laity to take part in the work of the church. In accordance with the Decree Ad Gentes: On the Mission Activity of the Church, from Vatican Council II, in 1971, he founded the “Council for the Lay Apostolate”. At first he faced strong opposition: traditional priests considered that there were already many lay organizations, and it was not necessary to have one more. Moreover traditionally there was no such thing as evangelization by the laity. On the other hand, a group of progressive-thinking priests were of the opinion that this sort of organization should be initiated by the laity themselves, instead of being established from the top down.” Anyway, the Council for the Lay Apostolate is now a common organization in parishes in Taiwan, and how they function depends on their relation with the parish priest.
6. Lo Kuang, President of Fu Jen Catholic University
In August 1978, Cardinal Yu Bin resigned from the Presidency of Fu Jen University, and Archbishop Lo Kuang succeeded him. This article will not go into the details of the contributions of Lo Kuang to the university as President. However, we must understand that to be President of a university is not a leisure post after retiring from the duties of archbishop. In fact it is a higher position in Church ministry.
On February 28, 1984, Pope John Paul II received the seven bishops of Taiwan, and Lo Kuang, representing the other bishops, told the Holy Father the opinions of the Church in Taiwan. After about half an hour, the Pope and the bishops entered a large hall, where more than a hundred Chinese (Taiwan) priests, Sisters and laity who at that time were residing in Rome, were waiting for them. The Holy Father delivered a speech in English on the “Bridge Church”. The pope first of all emphasized that “you are always in my heart”, but the most important words in his speech were: “All of you Catholics in Taiwan or overseas, your wonderful duty is to become a ‘Bridge Church’ to your fellow countrymen in mainland China. There are our Catholic brothers and sisters who for the time being are like seeds hidden in the fields, but would continue and pass their faith down to future generations. All effort and sacrifices would not be in vain, and the time will come when they would proclaim and celebrate Christ in a form in line with Chinese culture, which the Church respects, hopes and expects.” With the intercession of Lo Kuang and the Taiwan bishops, Taiwan and overseas Chinese Churches acquired the role of “Bridge Churches” in respect to the Church in mainland China. Time has proven that these Taiwan “Chinese” bishops have more correct observations regarding the relationship between politics and the Church on the mainland than do “foreigners” and the diplomats of the Vatican.
After Lo Kuang retired at the age of 81, he still lived and taught at Fu Jen. Since 1996, his health had deteriorated quite badly, and most of the time he was in Taipei Veterans General Hospital. He could not speak, but his mind was still clear. He wrote short articles compiled into a book with the title, “Writings on the sickbed”. He passed away on February 28, 2004 in the Veterans Hospital. On the last birthday before his death, I went to the Hospital to see him. I brought with me the book “A History of Sino-Vatican Relations,” co-authored by Mr. Kong Kwok Hung and myself. On that day his students gathered at his bedside. I didn't say much. I just put the book down and left. Later the public television broadcast a story about him, entitled “A Church scholar”. The feature showed Lo Kuang, who at that time was already unable to speak, but on his writing board we could see some words, which included “Sino- Vatican”. Thus, I know he must have read my book.
Lo Kuang, of the same age as the Republic of China, and with a strong Hunan accent, destiny had brought him to Rome for 31 years and later he resided in Taiwan for 43 years. If not for crossing paths with the history of the Republic of China, if not for the entanglements between Church and politics, Lo Kuang would not have had such a legendary and somewhat atypical life. I say atypical because if Lo had lived in a time a peace, he would have become a renowned scholar, or he would have become the bishop of Hunan. He definitely he would not have become Archbishop of Taipei and president of Fu Jen University in Taipei. Lo Kuang knew exactly his position and he clearly understood that he had made history. Most of the materials in this article are from Lo Kuang's own writings, which were published in his lifetime, collected in the series The Complete Works of Lo Kuang. I would say that the real author of this article is in fact Lo Kuang himself. I am only doing the editing work, which he entrusted to me on his sickbed. I have fulfilled this duty to the best of my knowledge and understanding.