CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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One bishop’s dreams

HONG KONG (SE): While Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung sees many challenges for the Church both in China and Hong Kong, as well as internationally, he told the French publication La Croix in an interview published on October 18 that his primary focus is on his own diocese.
The 71-year-old bishop believes that the local Church’s major priorities are local and as the bishop of Hong Kong he sees many immediate challenges that what he terms a fractured society presents.
“Hong Kong is a society full of challenges, at the same time, it is also a fractured society,” Bishop Yeung explained. “We have different people, different voices and opinions, and I always hope there’s an opportunity we can sit down and really talk and listen. This is not going to be achieved overnight.”
He added, “This society is aging rapidly. It is one of the cities in the world that in less than 20 years one in three people will be over 65-years-old.”
But he explained it is not the older generation that will lead the city into the future and the question that presents itself to his mind is “who will be carrying on the torch?” but “the younger generation whether you like them, whether you agree with them, in just a few more years time, they will be the mainstream of society.”
Bishop Yeung has always had a particular interest in and affection for young people. In his first press conference after his installation as bishop on August 2, he said that one of his personal desires is to do something for the young people.
He described them as facing problems over employment, social mobility and housing, all of which he described as unresolved issues in society that are not of their own making.
He then expressed the hope that the Church can be involved in creating ways to give them an outlet for their hatred, discontent and disappointment and, his even bigger hope is that the government may find in itself the ability to actually listen to their voice and understand what lies behind their discontent.
However, the young are not the only group that he believes is facing the challenge of frustration, discontent and ostracisation, as those in their sunset years are in much the same boat.
“Our elderly people need to feel dignified and valued,” he explained. “We must also care about our younger generation... Not all of them want to fight the government, they just need to express their discontent and those in power have to listen.”
These are the words of a priest with a strong background in social services, as he was for many years the chief executive of Caritas, one of the biggest social service providers in the city.
He told La Croix that he still feels like he would be more comfortable in his old job, but as bishop he believes that he can find ways to express that dimension of himself.
La Croix quoted him as saying that one of his dreams is to propose a scheme on a local level to help young entrepreneurs in Hong Kong, as both unemployment and rising rental costs are a major challenge facing young people.
He said that he had proposed to the government that the disused school buildings in the city be converted into shared workspaces for young business leaders, which he believes would help create a sense of community, while also fostering creativity.
“The young generations are a very important pastoral responsibility for the Church, to help them to learn, but also to help them to grow,” Bishop Yeung explained.
While he does not discount the responsibilities of the local Church on a wider international front and holds strong views on the situation of the Church in China, he is also of the opinion that as a diocese, Hong Kong is limited in what it can do.
Nevertheless, he believes that what can be done should be done and he strongly believes that Pope Francis’ approach of stressing the positives rather than the negatives may bear fruit one day and although the dialogue between Beijing and the Vatican may not blossom in the short run, it is better to be talking than staring silently at each other.
He also praised the Caritas initiative called Share the Journey aimed at reminding us that caring for migrants and refugees is an important expression of our faith and we should not forget that each and every one of us is but a traveller on this earth.
The Share the Journey campaign was launched by Pope Francis in Rome on September 27, the same day as Bishop Yeung presided over a prayer service to kick it off in Hong Kong.
He pointed out that it is not only Europe that has baulked at receiving refugees, but Hong Kong does as well, and a big challenge that faces the whole city is to build a social solidarity that can welcome the stranger, as the environment is not just a physical thing, but also about relations with the earth and how we utilise its wealth—it is also about how we respect each other.
So what does he see as the main challenge? “It is only through listening to them and thinking through their perspective that we will then know what to do and discern what is more important,” La Croix quoted his as saying.

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