HONG KONG (CNS) – The newly installed Catholic bishop of Hong Kong has vowed to act to heal Catholics and society at large, divided over Chinese action to quell a two-year protest in favor of the democratic freedoms.
Bishop Stephen Chow Sau-yan, 62, also highlighted the church’s role in educating the city’s youth, who witnessed pro-democracy protests led by college students over the past two years. last years. He said he would work harder to nurture the next generation of Catholics, ucanews.com reported.
“It is my desire to be a bridge between the government and the church in Hong Kong and between the Catholic church, other Christian denominations and other religions,” he told some 550 people gathered for the consecration ceremony on December 4 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
It is through understanding, respect and trust that collaboration can become a living culture in the community, he said.
Some 400,000 Catholics in the diocese of Hong Kong witnessed a rift between them when Beijing last year imposed a new tough national security law to help security forces quell growing pro-democracy protests . A section of Catholics, as well as members of Hong Kong society at large, openly opposed Chinese administrative action, saying it stifled democratic freedoms, while others supported it as essential to maintaining social order and peace, ucanews.com reported.
Bishop Chow’s first speech as bishop of the city also underlined the role of formation.
“A church without young people has no future, and a church without spirituality becomes too dogmatized and formalized,” he said.
He also asked for “prayers, support and collaboration” to help him “carry out this mission” and pledged the best with “all his heart, soul and mind”.
Cardinal John Tong Hon, the Diocesan Apostolic Administrator, led the Mass of Consecration. He concelebrated her with the retired Bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing and Trappist Father Paul Kao, Abbot of Notre-Dame de la joy. in Hong Kong.
During the ceremony, the letter of apostolic appointment was read in English by Mgr. Javier Herrera-Corona, representative of the Holy See in Hong Kong. Father Lawrence Lee, Diocesan Chancellor, read the Chinese translation.
Bishop Chow, a former Jesuit regional superior, said he considers consultation, listening, dialogue and community discernment essential for pastoral planning.
Pope Francis appointed Bishop Chow, then the Jesuit provincial of the Chinese province, as the new bishop of Hong Kong on May 17. The diocese had been vacant since the death of Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung on January 3, 2019.
Trained in educational psychology, Bishop Chow was Honorary Assistant Professor at the University of Hong Kong from 2007 to 2014 and Visiting Professor at the Holy Spirit Seminary College of the Theology and Philosophy since 2012. He has served on the Management Committee from two of the leading Jesuit secondary schools in Hong Kong over the past 15 years.
As the pandemic restrictions only allowed 50% of the seats to be filled at the cathedral and required all to observe restrictive measures, thousands of Catholics across the territory and around the world watched the ordination ceremony live.
Catholics make up about 5.5% of Hong Kong’s 7.39 million people. They include approximately 183,000 Filipinos and 34,000 Catholics of other nationalities.