He’s had more comebacks the Deng Xiao Ping. Deng famously was deposed twice only to bounce back a third time and reshape modern China. Aloysius Jin Luxian SJ, bishop of Shanghai, has been knocked about and pushed over by life, the Catholic Church in China and at the Vatican, by the Jesuits and the Communist Party on so many occasions you could expect him to be punch drunk by now. As recently as last year, his patiently prepared succession plan for leadership of the Shanghai diocese came to an abrupt halt in a single speech. His successor, Bishop Ma Daqin, earned the hostility of the Communist Party and removal from office in a single short speech shortly after his episcopal ordination. So with Ma sidelined and Aloysius Jin’s succession plans thwarted, it was back to the drawing board in Shanghai. But reversals, challenges, conflicts, misunderstandings and opposition are the staples of Jin’s long life, the outline of which is contained in his memoirs published in Chinese in 2008 with the English translation becoming available in late 2012. The worst thing he says about anyone in his memoirs is that they are or were naïve. And he says it of himself frequently enough through the account of his own life as it takes its, at times, tortured path. But what is endearing about his account is the way the almost fresh-faced innocence of the young man still survives in the 90-something’s record of how his long life – including 27 years in various forms of imprisonment – has unfolded. Surprise, wonderment and gratitude flow with the pages.
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