Cardinal Yu Bin came from Shuangcheng County of Jilin Province in Manchuria. He was born intelligent, with a stately appearance, regal bearing, and a mature demeanor. With his resolve to serve the nation and help the people, he joined the student demonstrations during the May 4th Movement to protest against totalitarianism, thus becoming a wanted renegade sought by the authorities. Taking refuge in a Catholic church, he was influenced by the Catholic priests, as the Chinese proverb says: “Those near red ink tend to turn red,” and became a devout Catholic. With his outstanding conduct and exceptional character, he was selected to become a priest who would spread the gospel. Having accumulated numerous merits and accomplishments, he was promoted to Cardinal of China. Afterwards, he served as the chancellor of the Fu-Jen University and devoted himself to education, sparing no energy in encouraging young people to pursue further studies abroad. As a contender for the papacy in Rome, he suffered setbacks due to jealousy and sadly passed away in Rome. It is truly regrettable that his lofty aims remained unrealized.
Today we are going to talk about Cardinal Yu. Cardinal Yu was a very extraordinary character in China. His head was as valuable as that of Chiang Kai-Shek. Back then the Communist party had put out a bounty of two hundred thousand silver dollars for Chiang Kai-Shek's head. Yu Bin's head was also worth two hundred thousand silver dollars. The life of one Catholic civilian was actually as valuable as that of the national leader. One can see how powerful his influence was.
His reputation in the international arena was not insignificant either. Back when the United States came to the aid of China, they did not give the money directly to Chiang Kai-Shek, but instead gave it to Yu Bin. His creditability was even better than that of the national leader; this I know. After Cardinal Yu received the American relief, he frequently discussed with General Li Yan-Wu the matter of handling the American assistance. Li Yan-Wu served as General Ma Zhan-Shan's advisor when he was in his twenties. He was young and talented. Although he didn't have much accomplishment in Manchuria, he was held in high regard by Yu Bin.
The first time I met Yu Bin in Taiwan was at the residence of Wang Guan-Wu. Although he was a Catholic priest and I was a Buddhist monk, we were both from Shuangcheng County of Jilin Province and thus had the connection of sharing the same hometown. Therefore, on that occasion of eating dumplings at the home of Wang Guan-Wu (now recuperating at the National Taiwan University Hospital at the age of ninety-two), he (Wang) invited Yu Bin as guest, as well various other compatriots from Shuangcheng. At that time there was a Catholic leader Zhao Zi-Yang (also known as Zhao Dong-Shu), not the current Zhao Zi-Yang, who also came the vicinity of Lalin, Shuangcheng County. So this was a meal with people from the same village.
The first time I saw Yu Bin, I said to him, “Cardinal Yu, let me say one thing to you that others dare not say. Furthermore, I don't care if you accept it or not; I still want to tell you. You should be a Catholic Buddhist.” Upon hearing this, he gave me a look of surprise, but did not utter a sound. I saw that he was still a bit perplexed, so I added, “You should be a Catholic Buddhist, and I must become a Buddhist Catholic. Let our phi losophies interconnect, and the world shall be free from warfare. What do you think?”
He thought for a bit, and said, “Right! Right! Let's make it so.” Later, he came to the Gold Mountain Monastery, and indeed courteously paid respect to the Buddha. He even went to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and stayed for a week.
He told me that being a cardinal was like being a king. He also told me in detail about his childhood: at what age he did this and at what age he did that. A physiognomist had told him that he had the looks of a king, but in this democratic age there are no kings, so he became an elder instead. He had the appearance of a trustworthy and honest elder.
Ever since he was young, he aspired to contribute to the country and to eliminate the suffering of the people. During the May Fourth Movement, he joined the peaceful demonstrations of the students to protest against the wrongdoings of totalitarian rule; consequently, he became a renegade sought by the authorities, and everywhere there were "Wanted" posters of him. To avoid being captured, he took refuge in a Catholic church.
At that time, the churches received special legal protection, so the Chinese government dared not enter to conduct searches. After living within the church for a while, he was gradually transformed by his surroundings. Listening to the priests day after day, he felt it wouldn't be bad to become a priest himself. Now, if he had taken refuge in a Buddhist monastery in the beginning, it's possible that he would have become a Buddhist monk instead. As the proverb says:
"Those near red ink tend to turn red. Those dyed with blue
ink become blue, and those dyed with yellow ink become
yellow." In any case, he was baptized.
He proved himself to
be a devout Catholic. He believed that God is alive and
omnipotent, and he wanted to learn from God. The priests all
liked him. Seeing that he was quite young, with such a
distinguished appearance, exemplary in his character, and
exceptionally faithful to Catholicism, they chose him to be
a priest who would spread the gospel. Little by little, he
rose in position. He contributed to Catholicism in ways that
most people could not, and accumulated merits in this way.
Soon he was promoted to become the Cardinal of China. The
position of a cardinal is nearly like that of the sovereign
of a country. Thus he told me himself, "As Cardinal, I am
just like a king." My response was, "What's this about you
being king, eh? I say you sure have the audacity! What's the
big deal? You're the king—so what?" He was a very honest
During one of my visits to Taiwan, when he was the
chancellor of the Fu-Jen University, he invited me to give a
lecture to his students. He was full of fervor for
education. Through his efforts, as many as three or four
hundred students were able to study abroad. The many young
people who received his guidance and assistance are today
very loyal to the Catholic religion.
Cardinal Yu Bin wanted
to seek nomination for the papacy in Rome. There were some
young priests at the time who taunted him, saying, "You're
so old already. What's the use of running for Pope? You have
nothing more to contribute. You had better step down." He
probably found such a remark intolerable: "How can a young
person like you be jealous of me like this?" Later, one of
those younger priests was indeed elected, but he died
shortly afterwards. Cardinal Yu died of anger over the
comments that the younger priests had made in the car. Do
you know that he died right in the car? That's why the text
says that he suffered setbacks due to jealousy. They don't
talk about this in the Catholic Church; it's too
embarrassing. However, I know it to be the case. He died in
He said to me, "I'm old already; they ought to elect
me as Pope earlier, so I can accomplish more." "Then the
price of your head would double and you'd be worth four
hundred thousand silver dollars." I said.
Cardinal Yu owned
many Chinese radio stations at the time. He was quite a
lively character. It's truly regrettable that his lofty
goals remained unrealized. He was too concerned about fame.
Since he was too attached to his reputation, he died of
anger. He didn't care much about profit, however. He didn't
have much wealth when he died.
to be continued