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Santa Clara University


When I was first called and asked to be a member of the Catholic University Delegation to China to investigate educational exchange programs, I hesitated. I'm not a very good traveler on other people's terms: tours and delegations are pre-determined, they leave little elbow room, and I'm not the most seasoned adventurer in the world. Anything beyond pasta, enchiladas, and roast beef I am immediately suspicious of; and I had heard about the rigors of Chinese travel.

But I was goaded into it by my Jesuit brothers; and I also knew that if I passed up this chance to take the definitive photograph of the Great Wall, I'd never be able to look a camera in the lens again. So pushing aside all hesitations, I decided, "Why not?"

A small group of us met in San Francisco International Airport on Thursday morning and took off for Tokyo. On the plane we saw a very gentle Japanese movie about a retarded man who can see only the beauty in life and becomes a nationally-renowned artist. A worthwhile reminder at the beginning of this trip into uncertainty. For in addition to my own personal hesitations, we have been told that this delegatimi is the first Catholic delegation since Cardinal Spellman's in 1949. And so although the Chinese Ministry of Education is hosting our visit, we are not sure how a group of archbishops, nuns, priests, and Catholic laymen will be received by a government that has been openly hostile to our fellow Catholics, that has imprisoned and tortured some of our fellow Jesuits. Many Catholic Churches have been restored, and priests have been released from prison; but there are ominous signs that the government will allow the practice of religion only on its own terms. We shall see.



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