CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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A reading from the bible according to Zen

HONG KONG (UCAN): Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun has taken to the air on Radio Television Hong Kong to tell bible stories in a way you have never heard before.

In a programme that will run for 13 weeks Cardinal Zen said, “I hope to bring the Church’s message to the Hong Kong people through the telling of bible stories.”

The station chose Cardinal Zen’s Bible Stories from among 132 proposals put to an open call for a new community radio programme on the government broadcaster.

The former bishop of Hong Kong made it past a few rounds of interviews with the station production team in March. He described the panel as being shocked when he first appeared, because his original application was submitted by the group with whom he is putting on the programme.

The producers also feared that the outspoken cardinal would use his new platform to talk about sensitive political issues. Cardinal Zen, however, assured them he would stay off politics and concentrate his hour-on-air on social issues.

“They asked me if I would be talking about political things and I told them that I could also talk about morality,” he said.

The Monday evening programme, which premiered on October 12, features the cardinal introducing one figure from the bible, followed by a radio drama put on by his team. Each programme concludes with a reflection by Cardinal Zen.

Louis Kwan, who tuned into the cardinal’s debut as a radio host, said the show could help people understand bible stories better. 

He said that he thinks the story of Noah and his ark, for example, could be used to illustrate some good social reflection on the plight of marginalised overseas workers and new mainland migrants in Hong Kong.

Still, he says that as with any new programme, Cardinal Zen’s Bible Stories could use a bit of a touch up.

Kwan reckons the one-hour format is too long and that the show suffers from a lack of audience interaction. “It would be more interesting if there was a phone-in section,” he said.

Cardinal Zen’s hour on air is subsidised by the station to the tune of $15,000 a show, the usual fee for one hour of airtime, and is scheduled to run until January 10.

It is not the first time the Church has tried public media platforms to air its message. 

In 2001, the Diocesan Audio-Video Centre produced a series of video clips that were aired on public buses, entitled, God on the Bus. The short film clips were estimated to have had a potential audience of more than 1.3 million commuters.

Since 2007, the Living Spring Foundation has produced a five-minute programme called More Than Money on a privately owned financial channel.

“We found that evangelisation at the parish level is limited in its outreach and thus we decided to use the airwaves to spread the Church message further,” Peter Kao, president of the foundation, explained.


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