CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 15 December 2018

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Ecumenical pilgrimage to promote Christian unity

HONG KONG (SE): Over 30 teachers and students from three theological colleges in Hong Kong went on pilgrimage from June 16 to 29 to visit significant places in Church history. These included churches and centres in Germany, Switzerland, Italy and the Vatican, providing them with a deeper understanding of the Reformation, and the division and development of different denominations in the Church. 
 
The trip, organised by the Diocesan Ecumenical Commission and Hong Kong Christian Council, was joined by students from the Holy Spirit Seminary College of Theology and Philosophy, Divinity School of Chung Chi College of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Lutheran Theological Seminary.
 
Participants went to Germany to visit the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany, where Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door; the headquarters of the Lutheran World Federation and that of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland; and the office of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity in Rome. They also had an opportunity for a brief audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican. 
 
Song Choh-on, a master’s student at the Divinity School of Chung Chi College was happy about the trip, which he said, gave them a chance to look at the history of the division of the Church, as well as the groups now working for ecumenism. He believes Christians can improve their relationship through communication.
 
Song, a member of the Tsung Tsin Mission of Hong Kong, said the Decree on Ecumenism was covered in the programme of the Chung Chi College and ecumenical worship is held on the campus. However, he said that topics about ecumenism are rarely mentioned in Protestant communities.  
 
He shared that he joined a summer ecumenical pastoral training programme organised by the Hong Kong Christian Council last year and was assigned to work at the Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission. 
 
He recalled that he helped organise the memorial activities for Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Liu Xiaobo, and had a chance to meet with people from different parishes. He said the experience helped him know more about the Catholic Church and that justice can bring Christians together.
 
Another participant, Tseung Yin-man, a master’s student at the Lutheran Theological Seminary told the Kung Kao Po on July 23 that the trip broadened her horizons and taught her more about different denominations. 
 
Tsang, a Lutheran, believes that it is not difficult to have ecumenical dialogue if people from different denominations can exchange their views more often. Having a Catholic husband, Tsang said the two of them often join the liturgies of the other Church and honestly share their thoughts afterwards.
 
Yeung Yuk-ching, of the Holy Spirit Seminary College of Theology and Philosophy, said the trip gave them a chance to look at history and share their views on faith. She was especially impressed when Catholic participants recited the rosary when all the pilgrims were invited to pray together.
 
Yeung said visiting the church in Germany where Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses gave her a chance to learn more about the original purpose of the Reformation. She came to know more about the background of the Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis redintegratio) promulgated in 1964.
 
Beginning in May last year, Diocesan Ecumenical Commission and Hong Kong Christian Council have organised pilgrimages to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and to gather people from different denominations to promote ecumenism. 

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