CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Diocese responds to Rainbow Action

The day after disrupting a public talk on homosexuality held at St. Jude’s Church, North Point, on Sunday, 13 March 2016, Rainbow Action, an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights advocacy organisation, extended an invitation to the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong for an open dialogue on the proposed Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance. The invitation came in the form of an email sent to the diocese and a press release in Chinese and in English. 

On April 28, the Diocese declined the invitation on the grounds that, having considered all the circumstances, including feedback received from many parishioners and others regarding the widely-reported incident at St. Jude’s Church, it had come to the conclusion that, at this stage, an open dialogue would be counter-productive. 

The Diocese made clear that it would remain open to communication at all levels, but did not wish to be pressured into adopting any particular form of dialogue with any particular concern. In keeping itself open to dialogue with concern or action groups, the Diocese would continue to follow the steps outlined in John Cardinal Tong Hon’s Pastoral Letter on Proclaiming and Living the “Gospel of the Family” [6 November 2014 (Revised version)], in the section on A Call for Continuing Catechesis and Pastoral Reflection and Action.

In adopting this approach, the Diocese is seeking to do justice to all the issues raised and problems perceived, many of which cut across boundaries and are multi-disciplinary in nature. The Diocese will be studying and considering in depth, among other materials, two study reports released recently, namely: 

1) A Study on Discrimination Experienced by Sexual Minorities (31 December 2015),
conducted by the University of Hong Kong, as commissioned by the Constitutional
and Mainland Affairs Bureau;

2) Study on Legislation against Discrimination on the Grounds of Sexual Orientation,
gender Identity (SOG) and Intersex Status
(26 January 2016), conducted by Chinese
University of Hong Kong, as commissioned by the Equal Opportunities

The Diocese invites the concern or action groups that advocate equal rights for sexual minorities to study Catholic social teaching, particularly with regard to human sexuality, marriage and the family. These teachings are readily accessible and can be said to be in “open dialogue” with all, especially those who search for what is true and good and what will advance the well-being of individuals and families, and of society as a whole. 

These groups were also encouraged to study the newly released Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), of Pope Francis. 

Lastly, the Diocese emphasises that if we were to compare the words of Pope Francis with what the Catholic Catechism teaches about marriage, the family and homosexuality, and with what John Cardinal Tong has said in his aforementioned Pastoral Letters, they would find no material difference between them. 

Thus, the claim by some Catholics and concern or action groups that John Cardinal Tong has deviated from the “compassionate approach” of Pope Francis is entirely unjustified. 

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