CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Coadjutor bishop for diocese

HONG KONG (SE): “To be honest, I’m very nervous,” Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung said in response to an announcement from the coordinator of the Holy See Study Mission in Hong Kong, Monsignor Ante Josic, that he had been appointed by Pope Francis as the coadjutor bishop with right of succession to the incumbent, John Cardinal Tong Hon.

Bishop Yeung described the news as being like an Annunciation, which he equated with a call to accept God’s mercy and move forward in a merciful way.

He then paid tribute to what he called his two mentors during the 44 years since he entered the seminary; Cardinal Tong and the former bishop of the city, Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, describing them as two big trees offering a protective shade in the heat of summer.

“Cardinal Zen’s wisdom is a God-given gift, which I can only admire,” he said, describing the persistence of the cardinal as a rare and admirable quality, which he also confessed he finds difficult to emulate.

“Cardinal Tong has always been a kind and accommodating gentleman,” Bishop Yeung continued, saying that his love for the Church and for China, especially its people and culture, has taught him to really appreciate the beauty of the Church in a Chinese culture.

“But,” he reflected, “The Lord says, ‘Arise, let us go forth from here.’ All that I can say is to use the words of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Annunciation, ‘Thy will be done’.”

Bishop Yeung was ordained a bishop together with Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing and Bishop Stephen Lee Bun-sang as an auxiliary in Hong Kong on 30 August 2014. At 71 years of age, he is much the senior of the relatively youthful Bishop Ha and Bishop Lee has since been transferred to Macau.

Prior to the ordination of the three, Cardinal Tong announced that since he was turning 75 on July 31, he had already tended is letter of resignation to the pope, as required by canon law, but had been given a three-year extension.

The three years will run out on July 31 next year, at which point it is anticipated that the pope will accept his resignation and Bishop Yeung will become the bishop of Hong Kong.

But not all has been smooth sailing.

Initial Facebook responses expressed disappointment with Church leaders as being too soft in their stand on China and, in the charged political atmosphere of the city at present, Bishop Yeung had to face the music at the Caritas Institute of Higher Education in Tseung Kwan O on the following day when he arrived for a graduation ceremony.

He said that the passion of younger people is to be admired, even if he cannot always agree with them, but he does agree that the interpretation of the Basic Law by Beijing was not necessary, as it is not always advisable to use power just because you have power.

On the sticky issue of same-sex marriage, he said that disagreeing with the idea does not preclude respect and love for the same-sex attracted.

He also added that he believes that showing localist sentiment and supporting independence are being confused by the government and that the lack of adherence to the Basic Law and One Country, Two Systems lies at the root of the issue.

Bishop Yeung was born on 1 December 1945 in Shanghai, but came with his family to Hong Kong when he was four-years-old.

He attended the Holy Spirit Seminary College in Aberdeen and was ordained a priest on 10 June 1978. He later studied public relations and education in the United States of America.

He is best known for his work as the chief executive of Caritas-Hong Kong, a role he took on in 2003, and also as a vicar general of the diocese from 2009.

When it was announced he was to become a bishop, Bishop Yeung said, “No one knows the road ahead and no one knows what will develop.”

But conscious of the fact that no one can do it alone, he concluded his greeting saying, “I pray that all my brother priests here in Hong Kong, religious, missionary and diocesan, all religious men and women, all the wonderful laity of Hong Kong will continue to support me and provide me with your advice and assistance.”

He then took his leave with the simple words, “May God have mercy on me” and “May God always keep you in his love.”

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