CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

Print Version    Email to Friend
All ages must know about Church in China

HONG KONG (UCAN): Organisers of a two-part series of talks on the Church in China hope the symposium will motivate Catholic people in Hong Kong to take more interest in religious persecution on the mainland.

About 40 people gathered at the Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Chapel at the University of Hong Kong on April 15 to hear Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun say he believes Pope Francis understands the suffering of the Church in China.

Referring to a homily given by the pope in South Korea during his 2014 visit, the former bishop of Hong Kong quoted him as saying that there are many martyrs in the modern Church.

However, he noted that some Vatican officials believe negotiation and compromise with the Chinese government will ease the suffering of Church people on the mainland.

“In fact, it is a mistake,” he told the gathering.

Cardinal Zen said that he believes that Catholics in China are not afraid of suffering, but they do fear the ambiguous attitude of the Vatican.

He said that Catholics need to be more discerning about news coming out of China, as some stories concerning the Church may not be accurate.

Arthur Tsang Man-hin, a student organiser from Hong Kong University, said the symposium was inspired in part by a December editorial written by Cardinal Zen that was published by AsiaNews in which he asks, “What will 2016 bring to the Church in mainland China?”

He added, “We hoped the event would give young Catholics here more information about the Church in China and transform their concern into prayer.”

Tsang explained that many young Catholics are happy just to participate in their parish activities, but do not see the need to engage in issues of social justice and religious freedom.

He explained the purpose of the symposium as being to challenge that attitude.

“The issues of the Church in China are not just social, but also concern the persecution of our own religion,” Tsang said.

Cardinal Zen opened the meeting by lighting a paschal candle, then invited all present to light a candle from its flame.

An April 8 gathering, held at the City University of Hong Kong, featured Anthony Lam Sui-ki, a senior researcher at the Hong Kong Holy Spirit Study Centre, and Father Bruno Lepeu, from Paris Foreign Mission Society.

Catholic student groups from the City University and the University of Hong Kong organised the event.

Father Lepeu congratulated the organisers, saying these types of events help foster a better understanding of the plight of Catholic people in China.

Twenty-two-year-old Paul Li, who came from Beijing to study in Hong Kong, said he had strong concerns about the future of religious freedom in China, as the government of the current president, Xi Jingping, is placing stricter and stricter controls on faith groups and social organisations.

“We certainly hope the situation will improve in the future. But it is hard to be optimistic now, and to willfully wish there is an exception on religious matters,” Li said.

Li is studying politics and said he believes that while concessions are important to any negotiation, there is always a bottom line one should not cross.

“The boundaries of right and wrong should not be blurred. The principles should be set, so that the blood of our predecessors will not have run in vain,” he said.

Or Yan Yan, the project officer for the Justice and Peace Commission, said Catholics in Hong Kong should treasure their religious freedom and support religious freedom in mainland China.

“Some Chinese Catholics once told me that they were encouraged to see the support of Catholics in Hong Kong,” she said.

She also encouraged young Catholics to visit China frequently and see the situation of the local Church for themselves.

More from this section