CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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A much loved pope in the city

HONG KONG (SE): The people of Hong Kong displayed a great love for the late Pope John Paul II, flocking to two requiem Masses celebrated at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on 4 and 7 April 2005.

“Organisers were taken by surprise as mourners swelled into the cathedral compound on the Monday evening. All seats in the church were taken by 6.00pm, two hours before the start of the 8.00pm liturgy. Many more pressed into the standing-room-only areas of the cathedral and the area in front of the main entrance was packed to capacity around a big screen carrying television coverage of the event. 

“Shortly after 8.00pm police blocked the main entrance to the cathedral grounds and directed people to enter by from Caine Road. At 8.30pm, as the congregation swelled to over 8,000 people, wardens closed this gate as well, fearing for the safety of those already inside. 

“Many standing at the side of the church were not able to hear the outside audio, however, as one young Canadian man noted, “The important thing is to be here. I just want to pay my respects and pray for the pope.”

Representatives from the Filipino, Polish and German communities in Hong Kong made a special offering of flowers during the Mass, which were placed in front of a memorial photograph of the pope before the high altar.

On the day of his funeral, over 800 people gathered in the cathedral to follow the ceremony at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican on television on April 8 and the main four free-to-air television channels in the city carried the event live, two with English commentary and two with Cantonese. 

For the first time, a Vatican spokesperson said that people could actually regard themselves as participants in the Mass through the live broadcast, rather than just onlookers.

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