CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 17 November 2018

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Be reconciled

In calling the Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis is urging the world to contemplate the face of Christ, to experience the great mystery of God’s mercy, thus setting the proclamation of God’s merciful love in both word and deed as the guiding principle of faith and spirituality.

In simple language he is saying that expressing mercy in action should be taken as being the basic standard for Church life.

Mercy can be represented in the Chinese tradition by the character ren (benevolence). Han Yu, a precursor of Neo-Confucianism during the Tang dynasty, said, “Universal love means ren.”

Mencius, a philosopher of the Confucian tradition during the Warring States period, reflected, “The feeling of commiseration is the principle of ren.” Mencius further defined the feeling of commiseration as “all men have a mind which cannot bear to see the suffering of others.”

Mercy in its entirety includes love, sympathy, compassion and almsgiving, all of which are fundamental principles of good human behaviour.

Every year, the local diocese organises a study camp for the priests and permanent deacons in Hong Kong to facilitate their pastoral work and to keep them abreast of the latest theological and philosophical developments in the Church.

This year’s study camp was conducted by Father Robert Schreiter, a renowned professor of theology at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, the United States of America. The three-day seminar addressed the issues of the ministry of reconciliation; Hong Kong’s mission as a bridge across divides; and witnessing to Christ during the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Father Schreiter teaches pastoral theology and is well known the world over for his studies in politics, as well as reconciliation, which, whether addressed towards self, others or God, is an essential element for the self-cultivation of spirituality.

In this divided society, the pursuit of reconciliation must be a top priority of pastoral care. The Church in Hong Kong must be a bridge amidst social problems, a role it has played with the Church in China over past decades.

The late John Baptist Cardinal Wu Cheng-chung visited the mainland during his lifetime, as has the current bishop, John Cardinal Tong Hon. His predecessor, Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun taught theology and philosophy at seminaries on the mainland, and many local priests, sisters, brothers and lay people have also offered formation programmes on biblical studies and liturgy.

But in the past 10 years or so, the mainland has tightened control over Church activity, which has stymied the regularisation of relations between China and the universal Church.

Reconciliation is not unconditional acceptance, nor acceptance without principle or abandonment of truth for compromise—reconciliation may not abandon justice, as this would only lead to social and political corruption rather than the development of society.

Jesus said, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” The truth of love lies in sacrifice; the truth of mercy lies in giving and in generously putting self-interest aside. It is only when there is mutual trust, truth and justice, and when all parties are of good will that reconciliation and understanding can be achieved. SE