CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 23 September 2017

Print Version    Email to Friend
Diocesan guidelines get a revamp

HONG KONG (SE): The diocese of Hong Kong has published a revision it its 35-year-old guidelines to pastoral practice in an effort to meet the needs of modern times.
The new guide has been in preparation for at least five years and while the English edition and the section on the sacrament of matrimony have not yet been completed, they are in the pipeline.
 
“We think something is still lacking in the guide, but as new priests have been asking for advice on contemporary matters, the Board of Diocesan Consultors decided the publication should not be delayed any longer,” Father Dominic Chan Chi-ming, the vicar general of diocese, said.
 
“There were sometimes arguments about certain pastoral practices, so it is within the natural development of the diocese to revise the guide,” he explained.
 
“If there are any disagreements in the future, everyone should refer to the new guide,” Father Chan stressed.
 
The diocese held four information sessions between May 24 and 26 to introduce the new guidelines on parish management, liturgical practices and pastoral care.
 
In an open session on May 26, Father Thomas Law Kwok-fai, the director of the Liturgy Commission, told some 400 catechists and parish staff that the Catholic Church has various rites but “differences are usually pastoral in nature and not doctrinal.”
 
The new guidelines address a wide range of issues from burial of the dead to receiving communion and, in same aspects, differs from the old one.
 
In an official sense at least, it makes a clear statement about what has been an open debate among local people in recent years as to whether receiving communion on the tongue or in the hand is more reverend.
 
“As long as the bishop approves, receiving holy communion on the hand or on the tongue is alright. We should not judge or dictate to others and we should not criticise others because of personal favour,” Father Lee Len, the chancellor of the diocese, said.
 
In 2003, when Hong Kong was hit by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun called for communion on the hand only, in addition to dipping the host into the chalice (intinction) instead of the Vatican approved directive of drinking directly from it, for hygiene reasons.
 
While the ban on receiving on the tongue was dropped when the risk of infection abated, the guideline on intinction is still the practice in the diocese today.
 
“The new guide needs more promotion as many people just don’t follow the rules,” one parish secretary told UCAN on the quiet.
 
“The old pastoral guide sat on dust-covered shelves for years. No one looked at it. I used to ask the priests or senior parishioners to ask another parish if they had any questions,” she said.
 
“Though I prefer to follow the rules, I am not rigid and keep space for the parish priest to make discretionary decisions,” the secretary added.
 
A catechist, Winnie Lee, said the new guide offers some convenience to laypeople. For example, by providing at least a photograph or other evidence that a deceased relative was Catholic, they can have the body buried in a Church cemetery.
 
She recalled that when her 99-year-old grand aunt died two months ago, her family turned their home upside down for her baptismal certificate, but could not find it.
 
“Who looks at their baptismal certificate from time to time, especially when it has not been used for decades?” she queried.

More from this section