This is a follow-up to another article about the Cardinal Kung: "Bishop Kung Was Tricky That Way, and Other Stories of the Saintly, Stubborn, Persecuted Ignatius Ping-Mei Kung of Shanghai."
To briefly summarize the main points of his life: Father Ignatius Kung, a fifth generation Chinese Catholic, was ordained Bishop of Shanghai just before the Communists took over China, and he was imprisoned in 1950 for thirty years because he would not renounce the pope and join the Chinese Patriotic Association that the Communists created as a local version of the Church under their control. Five years after his arrest, Kung was convicted of treason and sentenced to life. While he was in prison, he was forbidden to correspond with anyone, even family members, forbidden to say Mass, and not permitted to read the Bible.
During his imprisonment, the world did not forget his heroic sacrifice. Bishop Fulton Sheen wrote in his Mission magazine in 1957: “The West has its Mindszenty, but the East has its Kung.” (Jozsef Mindszenty, as you may already know, was the leader of the Catholic Church in Hungary, who was given a life sentence by the Communists in 1949 because of his resistance to the their policies.)
In 1979, while still in prison, Kung was named a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II in pectore. In pectore means secretly, in the heart of the Pope. Elevations in pectore are sometimes done when a pope wants to honor a cleric while not putting him or other Catholics in danger in a situation where the Church is being persecuted.
Cardinal Kung's Death in CTWhen Ignatius Cardinal Kung died in March of 2000 at the age of 98, he was in exile far away from his Shanghai homeland, living in his nephew's home in Stamford, CT. As Fr. George W. Rutler wrote in a Crisis magazine article, when Kung first went to Hong Kong from Shanghai for medical care after his release, he had been unsettled by how much had changed in the Church while he had been in prison. Just for one small example, Kung "was amazed that Catholics no longer observed the Friday abstinence that he had kept for 30 meatless years."
Kung preferred the traditional Latin Mass partly because Latin was (and still is) the official language of the Roman Catholic Church. The Communist authorities preferred Chinese-language Masses because they were more in keeping with their goals to have their patriotic association replace the Catholic Church. Catholics who resisted the patriotic association went underground, and years after the priests who had joined the patriotic association started celebrating the newer form of the Mass, priests in the underground Church had kept on celebrating the older form.
In order to realize how difficult it was going to be for Cardinal Kung's friends and relatives to be able to arrange for a traditional Requiem Mass after he died, you have to realize that after the revised Mass of 1969, now called the Ordinary Form, was introduced, the new form of the Mass became almost the only Mass there was for the Roman rite of the Catholic Church all over the world. The older form of the Mass, now called the Extraordinary Form, was almost completely banned in practice along with Latin, and along with Gregorian chant, between 1969 and 1982, and the Extraordinary Form Mass was still greatly restricted in the year of Kung's death.
Cardinal Kung's Requiem Mass in CACardinal Kung's Requiem Mass was remarkable because it was unusual in many ways.
The year 2000 was thirty-one years after the virtual ban of Latin and the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, along with Gregorian Chant, after the Second Vatican council. When Cardinal Kung died, sixteen years after the 1984 indult that allowed bishops to give permission in some cases for the Extraordinary Form to be celebrated, and twelve years after the 1988 motu proprio in which Pope Saint John Paul II urged a "wide and generous" application of the 1984 indult, permission was still hard to come by.
Ignatius Kung died seven years before Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum further relaxed restrictions against the traditional Latin Mass and opened the way for more frequent celebrations.
|Five Wounds Portuguese National Church|
For a while, things seemed to be going smoothly. Cardinal Kung would not only get his wish for Requiem Mass, but Cardinal Shan of Taiwan agreed to celebrate a Pontifical Requiem Mass in his honor.
In the celebration of Extraordinary Form Masses, the priest faces the altar, which is understood to be the "liturgical East," so that posture is called ad orientem. The symbolism behind ad orientem celebrations of the Mass can be glimpsed in the definition of the Latin word orientem, which means: daybreak, dawn, sunrise, east. The sun rises in the East, Christ is called the Sun of Justice, the dawn from on high, and His Second Coming is expected from the east.
Some people have been taught to believe a priest facing ad orientem is offensive because the priest is "turning his back to the people." But the result of the priest praying the Mass ad orientem is to take the focus away from the priest and to focus our attention on God. In that way, the priest together with the people face together in the direction from which we look for the Second Coming of the Lord. Even though the ad populum orientation became common after Vatican II, the council did not mandate it.
When the bishop of San Jose at first made his stipulation, consternation ensued. It must have been hard to imagine how the ad populum orientation could have been carried off in an Extraordinary Form Pontifical Mass. Then at some point, to the relief of all those who were trying to organize the Mass, the bishop changed his mind, and he agreed to allow Cardinal Kung’s Requiem Mass to be celebrated ad orientem.
Some say that the bishop removed his restriction because Cardinal Shan of Taiwan was going to be the celebrant, and it would be impolitic to contradict the wishes of a living Cardinal, even if he was willing to contradict the wishes of a dead one.
Cardinal Kung’s nephew, Joseph Kung, has written at the Cardinal Kung Foundation website that the bishop’s change of heart was due to intercessory prayers of the his dead uncle, and also that the bishop's allowing them to celebrate the traditional Requiem facing the liturgical East was Kung’s first miracle.
On March 20, 2000, an astounding one thousand people attended Cardinal Kung’s Pontifical High Requiem Mass. The St. Ann Choir sang the Gregorian chant for the Mass along with Renaissance polyphony under the direction of Stanford Musicology Professor William P. Mahrt.
The St. Ann Choir is also remarkable for its endurance, because it had providentially been able to keep on singing Gregorian chant and polyphony at Masses in nearby Palo Alto for more than thirty years by then before, during, and after the Second Vatican Council, long after that type of Sacred Music was virtually banned. (For more about the St. Ann Choir's remarkable achievement, see Miracle in Palo Alto: How the St. Ann Choir Kept Chant and Polyphony Alive for 50 Years.)
|Requiem Mass at Five Wounds in 2009|
The choir sang the hymn “Tu Es Petrus” (You are Peter), which uses the words Christ used when He made Peter head of the Church. For those who know the stories of Kung's life, as described in the article mentioned earlier, “Tu Es Petrus” was a poignant reminder of Kung’s long martyrdom. In addition, “Tu Es Petrus” was a celebration of the canny way Kung was able to convey his courageous refusal to deny the pope to Cardinal Sin in the face of Communists trying to keep them apart during a show visit.
Kevin Rossiter, who had only recently joined the St. Ann Choir at the time of Kung’s funeral, sent me these recollections.“There were a lot of photographers and people apparently from the (non-communist) Chinese press. The homily alternated between Chinese and English and was very good, telling the usual stories about him (the show-trial, about the singing “Tu Es Petrus” ) but also explaining his political strategy from very early on (e.g., in preparing lay catechists for the time when he knew the church would have to go underground). The cardinal used the occasion to announce the beginning of the case for his canonization. The cards for the funeral with his picture were very beautiful—I have one somewhere, but it has been misplaced during moves, so it's still probably in a box or pressed into a book. Those are the things I remember most. The atmosphere was very joyful.”
Choir Director Professor Mahrt shared some of his recollections of Kung’s Requiem Mass also. “At some point the casket was opened for the congregation to pay their respects, and all filed by the casket. At the time I thought, ‘I will probably never again witness the funeral of a saint or see him resting in a coffin.’”
Burial in Santa Clara Mission Cemetery
Before I knew anything about Cardinal Kung, somebody pointed out his marker to me at the doorway to the chapel, and I wondered how it came about that a Shanghai cardinal came to be interred there. Now I understand.
Six years previously, the body of Archbishop Dominic Tang of Canton, another Chinese member of the Church's hierarchy and friend of Cardinal Kung, had been placed in a nearby vault. In a chapter about Archbishop Tang in his book Cloud of Witnesses, Fr. George Rutler recounted that when Dominic Tang was a young priest in Shanghai, Tang “cycled with his friend Rev. Ignatius Kung Pin-Mei from parish to parish to hear confessions.” Tang had been appointed as apostolic administrator of Canton in 1950, the year after the Communists took over. Like then-Bishop Kung, who accepted his ordination as bishop of Shanghai that same year, Tang realized and accepted the persecution he would be forced to undergo as the result of his ordination. Three years after Bishop Kung was arrested, Tang was also arrested,and he spent twenty-two years in prison without trial.
After they both were released and forced into exile, they maintained their friendship. Archbishop Tang had died while visiting Cardinal Kung in Stamford in honor of the cardinal's 65th anniversary as a priest and his 45th anniversary as a bishop. Archbishop Tang died in the presence of his friend Cardinal Kung, on June 27, 1995. After Tang's death, Cardinal Kung’s nephew Joseph Kung had brought Archbishop Tang's body to Santa Clara for interment. It was fitting that after Kung's funeral, the two friends were reunited.
Father Rutler wrote, “His Eminence was buried next to his friend, and both bodies face the horizon in the expectation that the two old men who, in youth had bicycled together will in a great dawn be buried in their cathedrals in Canton and Shanghai."
Joseph Kung wrote these additional details about the burial in Highlights of the Funeral at the Cardinal Kung Foundation website :
"That the bodies of these two Chinese bishops, ever faithful to the Successor of Peter and devoted to their flocks in Canton and Shanghai despite all adversity, are interred above ground expresses the hope that one day their mortal remains will be transported to China and interred, each at the foot of the altar of his respective cathedral. The same hope was expressed when Cardinal Mindszenty was interred above ground in Austria; and the hope was rewarded when his remains were transported back to Hungary.”Please pray for this intention, and for the canonization of Ignatius Cardinal Kung Pin-Mei.
Cardinal Kung Foundation website.