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Bishops of Hong Kong and Macau discuss Sino-Vatican relations with pope

VATICAN (SE): Pope Francis met with Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing of Hong Kong, together with Bishop Stephen Lee Bun-sang, bishop of Macau, during their ad limina visit on the morning of June 23 for an hour and 14 minutes the Chinese-language Catholic weekly, Kung Kao Po, reported.
 
Together with the pope and the Vatican secretary of state, Pietro Cardinal Parolin, they discussed the ongoing dialogue with China.
 
After the meeting, Bishop Yeung told the Kung Kao Po that Pope Francis is taking a cautious approach towards Sino-Vatican relations and that he supports the pope.
 
“On China, the Vatican position is clear,” AsiaNews reported the bishop as saying. He added, “The Vatican does not want to irritate anyone; it does not want to make any wrong moves (for the Church), but at the same time it must do something for the good of the Church and of Chinese society.”
 
Taking a cue from the trade talks and the shadow of a trade war between the United States and China, the bishop said, “On the question of religion, it is a bit like in commercial matters. The United States and China go on agreeing on some things, disagreeing on other things, but they continue to talk. It’s the same for us too: we need to keep talking.”
 
Bishop Yeung said, “Diplomatic relations are not established overnight. Those between the Vatican and the US, or between the Vatican and Great Britain have required almost 200 years ... We all have to be patient. China has 5,000 years of history and dialogue with it takes time. There are things we agree on, and things we disagree on.”
 
He went on to say that the pope has asked that people pray, saying, “We want to pray for him, for the Church in China, and for all those who have sacrificed their lives for the faith in China, so that we too can be ready to sacrifice our lives for the gospel.”
 
Bishop Yeung said the pope was presented with the prayer cards for the Church in China that are distributed in the parishes of Hong Kong. He told the Kung Kao Po that the pope examined them in detail and said he would pray with everyone.
 
Speaking on another matter close to his heart—young people—Bishop Yeung pointed out that many in Hong Kong are under-employed and the with cost of housing stratospherically expensive, they delay having or are disinclined to start families, and if they do get married, they are forced to live in extremely small flats with their parents and even grandparents. 
 
The bishop expressed his appreciation for the young people who participated in 79-day Umbrella Movement in 2014, pointing out that, “Our young people are victims of economic development, they are very frustrated therefore they demand more justice and more freedom.”
 
However, he also noted, “They are impatient, they seek immediate gratification. But you cannot plant a tree in the morning and catch the fruits in the evening.”
 
Bishop Yeung stressed, “It is urgent to reach out and be close to young people to help them discern, to help them in their daily lives so that they understand and live the call of Jesus. It is necessary to help them to mature in a spirit that gives them the strength to go forward.”
 
The bishop of Hong Kong said that Pope Francis is also concerned about young people, especially their formation in religious institutes.
 
The pope advised the bishops that, apart from organising youth events, a good relationship be developed with them. The pope believes the clergy should help young people encounter God and empower them to discern and choose the path to which they have been called.
 
When informed about the diocesan Year of Youth, Pope Francis became excited and asked questions about it.
 
During the meeting, the pope spoke in Italian with an interpreter present. He took notes from time to time and humbly remarked that he needs to listen to the views of the bishops.
 
The last ad limina visit by the bishops of Hong Kong and Macau was made by Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun and Bishop José Lai Hung-seng 10 years ago. The visit after that, scheduled for 2013, was overtaken by events following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of Pope Francis. 

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