CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Remain hopeful like saints talk urges

HONG KONG (SE): People were encouraged to live out Catholic social teachings with hopefulness amidst adversity at a talk and a prayer service in memory of Archbishop Oscar Romero, organised by the Justice and Peace Commission, at St. Andrew’s Church, Tseung Kwan O, on September 9.
 
The commission organised a series of talks about prophets in the Old Testament, as well as modern day saints in under the theme, God’s Appointed Messengers, in response to the upcoming canonisation of Blessed Archbishop Oscar Romero and Blessed Pope Paul VI in October 14.
 
Guest speaker, Mary Yuen Mee-yin, a scholar in religion, remarked that the Church today should approach the poor and the marginalised like Archbishop Romero. It should also live out the social teaching of the Church following the principles in Gaudium et Spes (the Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World) promulgated by Pope Paul VI at the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council in 1965.
 
Yuen briefly reviewed the life of the archbishop, who, right after he was installed, allied himself with the rich and was not concerned about social issues. His life reached a turning point when his best friend, Jesuit Father Rutillio Grande, was assassinated in 1977 for protecting the poor, which made him aware that violence in society must be stopped and that the Church should protect human rights and the marginalised. 
 
She added that the archbishop was also influenced by the teachings of the Second Vatican Council as well as the liberation theology that emerged in Latin America, and became outspoken against poverty and the suppression of human rights. He insisted on staying with the poor even though he received death threats. He was assassinated while celebrating a Mass in a hospital chapel in San Salvador on 24 March 1980.
 
Kung Lap-yan, an associate professor at the Divinity School of Chung Chi College of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the archbishop’s martyrdom is a “dangerous memory” as he was murdered after taking sides with the oppressed in society and openly criticising the government and the military. 
 
He believes such memories can make people feel more pessimistic when faced with  the present political situation and the influence of Beijing in Hong Kong. He urged people to think about how Hong Kong society arrived at its present situation first instead of being saddened by the martyrdom.
 
Kung said the archbishop and other murdered priests are all martyrs who upheld justice and let people see Jesus Christ in them. He urged those present to look into the meaning of the suffering as the sufferers showed great hope and unity—qualities which cannot be found in other people.
 
A prayer service was held afterwards in which people prayed for hope in society, the pursuit for eternal values instead of economic benefits, the suppressed, the poor as well as the people of El Salvador.
 
Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing, the auxiliary bishop of Hong Kong, said that Archbishop Romero was remembered because he was a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ and a shepherd leading people to God. 
 
Responding to the earlier remark about Archbishop Romero’s martyrdom being “dangerous memory”, Bishop Ha said our faith is also based on memories of Jesus Christ who died and resurrected. He exhorted everyone to follow Christ and keep the examples of saints and the love of Jesus Christ in mind. 
 
At the conclusion, Bishop Ha blessed the participants with the relics of Blessed Romero, the patron saint of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese.

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