Recently, on a bus, I was talking with a young Chinese priest studying in Ireland.
He told me he comes from a diocese in north China which has 75 priests and 17,000 Catholics – that is, one priest for every 230 Catholics!
The bishop there is 93 year old and is unique in that he does not allow the government‘s controlling Patriot Association to have an office in his diocese. Yet the government is willing to recognise him as bishop and cooperates to a certain extent. The bishop speaks three European language and translates foreign theological books into Chinese.
The strength of the Church there is in Catholic villages which have survived hundreds of years despite wars and persecutions.
‘We got our faith from Irish priests,‘ he said, ’But when we come to Ireland we cannot find that faith. Why is this?’
I told him I couldn’t answer that because I have been out of the country for most of my life and since my return have also wondered what happened in the meantime.
However, challenged by his question, I am now turning to David Quinn’s ‘How we Killed God’ (in Ireland) for answers.