CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Cardinal cautions on same-sex marriage

HONG KONG (SE): A notice to the diocese released by the bishop of Hong Kong, John Cardinal Tong Hon, encouraging people in the diocese to study the platform of various political parties and candidates standing in the upcoming November 22 District Council Ordinary Elections, was sent to parishes and Church pastoral workers on November 5.

The letter puts the possible inclusion of same-sex marriage in the proposed Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance in its sights, saying that this constitutes a challenge to and misinterpretation of the core values and key concepts of marriage and family in Hong Kong.

Cardinal Tong says, “The very foundation of society is being undermined.”

The bishop of Hong Kong describes the current situation as being critical and then encourages people in the diocese to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world during the coming election campaign and scrutinise the political platforms of parties and candidates.

Cardinal Tong does not suggest how or in what way people should vote, but does encourage people to give due consideration to “the stance of each candidate and that of the political party he/she might belong to with regard to the core values of marriage and the family, and the proposal to enact the Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance.”

He says that in this way people will be contributing to upholding the values of marriage and the family as the foundation of society.

The letter from the bishop of Hong Kong points to what it calls the evident virtual propagation of sexual liberalisation under the umbrella of academic freedom as being a misguided culture, which not only implicitly, but publicly, and even pompously intrudes into daily life, directly affecting the coming generation.

Cardinal Tong cites a pastoral letter that he published at the end of September in which he called for a strengthening of the institution of marriage and not a redefinition of it.

He also cites the recently concluded Synod of Bishops on Family Life, which was held at the Vatican during October, as reconfirming what has been a constant teaching in the Catholic Church on marriage and family.

The Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance contains many suggested steps to be taken in outlawing what have been long-term discriminatory attitudes and actions against the same-sex attracted, women and the disabled. The cardinal only isolates same-sex marriage as problematic.

But the chairperson of the Equal Opportunities Commission, York Chow Tat-ngoh, claimed at a street rally in support of the anti-discrimination ordinance that its passing would not lead to the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

However, Cardinal Tong says that in the current climate to accept the ordinance with this inclusion would in his opinion turn Hong Kong society on its head. 

The letter drew an immediate hostile public reaction with leading political figures and advocacy groups saying that he is out of step with current Catholic thinking as expressed by Pope Francis.

UCAN reported that some who participated in the Gay Pride Parade on November 7 said that the cardinal’s letter prompted them to get out in the streets in solidarity.

But the public outcry may point to the far deeper challenge of how to deal with relationships that go beyond feelings and intimacy, and an inability to form healthy non-marital relationships.


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