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MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) — San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has honored the fortitude and sanctity of jailed Catholic journalist and freedom advocate Jimmy Lai.

In his sermon during the “Requiem Mass for the Forgotten” celebrated in Miami, Florida, on March 15, Archbishop Cordileone read a letter he personally received from Lai to draw attention to his unwavering faith in the face of persecution from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

“Last fall, our Archdiocese hosted a prayer vigil for Jimmy Lai and also Cardinal Zen and the others suffering under the current regime in Hong Kong,” the archbishop of San Francisco said. “We came together for that prayer vigil to offer spiritual support and bring greater awareness to the tremendous suffering Jimmy Lai especially is enduring for the sake of freedom in a very oppressive regime.”

READ: Archbishop Cordileone launches project to honor ‘modern martyrs of communism’

Archbishop Cordileone proceeded to read a personal letter he had recently received from Lai, who has been imprisoned in Hong Kong since 2020.

“Here is what he [Lai] had to say in that letter: ‘Suffering, actually, I am not, though in prison. I am not free, but only externally. Prison is a place of simplicity and poverty, where desires and attachments are eliminated. It opens my heart to the voice of God. I live no longer; Christ lives in me. I take measure of my thoughts and actions from within and obey no external constraints. For God is within me. I no longer think and act according to external necessities and constraints. With essence and truth within, I can touch the infinite in the finite. Unite myself with God, who is within me. I shall go on with my life here in peace, certain of God’s hope and promise, and have joy praising God.’”

“Mr. Lai chose to stay behind rather than flee to safety for the sake of the freedom of his people. Or better yet, to be a living sign of their oppression,” the archbishop stated.

“What a difference one’s perspective is who suffers severe oppression for the sake of integrity of conscience.”

“All that is sacred is taken away. At least what we would consider sacred: material possession and contact with loved ones, comfort and conveniences. Even access to spiritual resources, especially Confession and the Holy Eucharist. And most obviously, the deprivation of freedom itself,” he continued

“But for the spiritual person, the perspective is different. Freedom is on the inside. And the greatest freedom of all no one can take away. The freedom that comes from integrity of conscience, no matter the cost,” Archbishop Cordileone said.

The prelate stressed that “it is that the deprivation of all that we used to consider important in life, and maybe even sacred, reveals to us what is truly sacred and immovable.”

“We are alarmed at the growing injustices in the world, brutal repressions of governments fueled by godless ideologies in some parts of the world, and a sort of secular fundamentalism, taking possession of countries that used to pride themselves on being liberal democracies,” he continued.

“Some of us, and I include myself among them, thought the world had learned the painfully hard lessons of atheistic totalitarian regimes that encompassed the globe in the previous century. But we see them in new but similar guises now in the twenty-first century, fueling a worldwide crisis of refugees fleeing their homelands to seek safety.”

Archbishop Cordileone recently launched the project “Requiem for the Forgotten” to honor the modern Catholic martyrs of communism.

In an essay titled “Modern Martyrs of Communism,” he explained how Catholics “must once again sing our own songs and tell our own stories so that we can share the truth, goodness, and beauty of faith with the world.”

“This is one reason I’ve asked the Benedict XVI Institute to launch a new multiyear project telling the story of these heroic martyrs of communism—in liturgy and hymns, but also in paintings, poetry, plays, videos, and essays, partnering with the Victims of Communism museum in Washington, D.C., among others,” he wrote on March 6.

Jimmy Lai, a Chinese-British Catholic freedom activist and media tycoon, is currently facing charges of violating the CCP’s draconian “national security law,” which could lead to a life sentence. By these charges, Lai is accused of violating the National Security Law (NSL) that Beijing imposed on the island in June 2020 in order to suppress dissent against the CCP. Lai is currently serving a six-year jail term for alleged “fraud.”


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