CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Appreciating differences is key to ecumenism

HONG KONG (SE): Participants at the Taizé International Meeting of Young Adults in Hong Kong said that understanding and respecting each others’ differences is key to promoting ecumenism and to having harmony among people of different denominational and cultural backgrounds. The ecumenical gathering titled, Pilgrimage of Trust and Reconciliation, was organised by the Taizé Community and in Hong Kong from August 8 to 12.
Sara Var Laar, a Protestant from the Netherlands, and Agata Gozagorzenicz, a Catholic from Poland, stayed with the same host family. They expressed their happiness that the Taizé gathering gave them a chance to talk about the differences in their religious traditions, such as the doctrines on the saints and the Eucharist, and resolved that they would respect the differences instead of trying to push the other into agreement. 
Lioba Urause, a participant from the Diocese of Essen in Germany, said she joined the gathering in Hong Kong in order to learn more about different cultures. She wanted to visit the Tao Fong Shan Christian Centre in Shatin, and the Buddhist Tze Shan Monastery in Taipo, to find out more about the Protestants and the Buddhists in Hong Kong.
A Catholic, she chose to join the choir at St. John’s Anglican Cathedral during evening prayer services because she rarely has a chance to sing in an Anglican church.
Also choosing to visit the Buddhist monastery was Joey Lirio, a Catholic teacher and his wife, Mayen, from the Philippines. Lirio said he wanted to know more about the Buddhist traditions and their practices. 
He stayed at a school together with Catholic and Protestant participants from Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, and had opportunities to share his views with them in the evenings.
He was happy to talk with the Protestant delegates and realised that although there are differences, “by appreciating the differences, we can have unity in diversity, which is the spirit of Taizé,” he said. 
Lirio observed that the participants he met from Hong Kong mainly shared about the difficulties in finding a job they liked and that he felt that had not identified their mission in life. 
However, he believes that most young Filipino people he knows, apart from looking for a job, have already set out to help others through different services in churches.
He was happy to see that people, who were losing their direction in life, came to the Taizé meeting as he believes they will be inspired through the sharing of others as well as the quiet moments which bring them closer to God. 
Out of the over 2,700 participants from over 40 countries, an estimated one third were Protestants, creating good opportunities for inter-denominational dialogue and prayer. Ecumenical evening prayer services were held every day from at both St. John’s Anglican Cathedral, Garden Road, as well as the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, Caine Road.

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