CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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International ecclesiology conference

HONG KONG (SE): “To learn and then review what one has learned, how pleasant! To have friends coming in from afar, how delightful! Not being ruffled when a man finds himself unappreciated, what a gentleman!” Vladimir Latinovic, from the University of Tübingen, quoted Confucius as saying in welcoming delegates to the Tenth Annual Gathering of the Ecclesiological Investigation International Research Network at the Ming Hua Theological College in Central on July 21.

The international gathering chose Christianity and Religions in China—Past, Present and Future as its topic of scrutiny for this year’s gathering, which was hosted by the Anglican Ming Hua Theological College and the Centre for Catholic Studies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

In his introduction to the event, Archbishop Paul Kwong, the primate of the Anglican Province of Hong Kong, said that the climate in which the Church in the territory lives today is one of unease and a vast pluralism in politics, with tensions further intensified by the increasing rich-poor divide and a variety of social concerns.

He pointed out that the very principle of harmony in relations between the special administrative region and China, one country, two systems, is being challenged, which also challenges the Church to involve itself in promoting dialogue among the warring parties in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust, although it will not come in one voice.

He strongly defended his membership of the National People’s Congress, saying that although he has been criticised from both inside and outside his Church, it is in the Anglican tradition to engage with government, as it cannot be restricted to doctrinal matters only and its vocation is to bring the peace of the incarnate God to broken societies.

“We will address these problems in the Chinese way—quietly,” he said.

Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung spoke from the perspective of his experience in China with Caritas, quoting Pope John Paul II as saying the Church can find its identity and mission in social services.

He stressed that love for Church does not contradict love for country and there needs to be a fusion of Church and culture. “Charity is the first and simplest response,” he said, adding that there is also a need for humility, concern and formation of the heart.

“It is about giving people an opportunity to develop to their fullest potential,” he added.

He stressed the importance of Churches and civic organisations working together. “We need synergy,” he said, “and it takes many hands to do it.”

The Reverend Martyn Percy, from Christ College in Oxford, added the dimension of local Churches developing what he called their own, identifiable DNA, which he said happens naturally, but the challenge to its members is to discern it.

He spoke of the World War II era bishop of Hong Kong, Bishop Ronald Hall, as having that sensitivity, as he understood that ministry is an ecclesial development that comes out of a context heavily coloured by its lived experience.

Reverend Percy added that despite the difficulties, China remains stubbornly religious and, in practice, this is expressed in the pro-active hospitality of the social gospel.

He said that Hong Kong has been a great example of this.

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