Cancer Is My "Angel," Says Cardinal
Dec 07, 2007
Taiwanese Prelate Spreads Message of Courage.
HONG KONG, DEC. 7, 2007 (Zenit.org).- After being diagnosed with lung cancer last year, Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-hsi didn't wait to die, but rather got up to inspire others to face life with courage.
The Jesuit cardinal, who is the retired bishop of Kaohsiung and former president of the Chinese regional episcopal conference in Taiwan, began his "Farewell to My Life" tour in October.
His first visit was to Hsinchu, located on the northwestern coast of Taiwan, and since then has visited the six other dioceses of the island.
"I treated the cancer as my 'little angel,'" the cardinal told ZENIT in a telephone interview. "It guides me to tell people that we should have the courage to face the challenges at our life."
The tour came to completion Wednesday when the prelate visited Fu Jen Catholic University in Taipei. The university offered him an award to honor his love for life.
Cardinal Shan Kuo-hsi turned 84 on Sunday.
The Chinese cardinal said he was "very happy to be a witness of the Gospel" at the last stage of his life.
The cardinal said he had visited a drug abuse center in Taitung and met 300 inmates there Nov. 22. He told them, "The cancer let me know that as I am entering the last stage of my life, I should try my best to contribute the society."
He prayed for the inmates and appealed that people should use "love" to settle the problems in their daily life.
Cardinal Shan Kuo-hsi was diagnosed with lung cancer in July 2006. He shared with those he met on the tour that he was shocked with the diagnosis, and with the prospect of only having a life expectancy of 4 to 5 months.
"At first I asked the Lord, 'Why me?' When I calmed down, I recognized that it is the will of the Lord," the cardinal said. "He wanted me to help the others by sharing my personal experience with them.
"And now, I will confirm that 'Why it is not me?' A cardinal does not have a privilege to stay healthy forever!"
He said that after his death, his body will be turned into fertilizer for the land of Taiwan, but his soul will be returned to the Lord.
The Chinese cardinal also praised the heroic example of the late Pope John Paul II, who tried his best to live out the last minutes of his life with dignity.
Cardinal Shan Kuo-hsi is a native of Hebei province, northern China. He left mainland China after he joined the Jesuits in 1946. He was ordained priest in the Philippines in 1955.
He was named bishop of Hualien, Taiwan, in 1979, and bishop of Kaohsiung in 1991. He was elevated to cardinal in 1998, and retired in January 2006.