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Study retreat looks into China situation

HONG KONG (SE): A study retreat was organised for clergy by the Diocese of Hong Kong from January 8 to 10, to deepen their understanding of the situation of the Church in China.
 
With the help of different researchers on the subject, the retreat covered four topics, including the theological principles behind the reforms of Pope Francis, Chinese president Xi Jinping’s policy on religion, the provisional Sino-Vatican agreement on the appointment of bishops reached on September 22 and the future of the Church in China. 
 
Father Peter Choy Wai-man, chairperson of the Diocesan Commission for Ongoing Formation of the Clergy told the Chinese-language Kung Kao Po on January 3 that the study retreat was organised as some priests had doubts about the provision Sino-Vatican agreement. He hoped that it would help them learn more about the situation of the Church in China and the role that Hong Kong has to play. 
 
Speaking on January 8, Reverend Chan Kim-kwong, a scholar in theology interested in Sino-Vatican relations who has published books about the Protestant Church in China, noted that the core value in China is following the Communist Party and rejecting universal values, which explains why individual rights are regarded as less important. 
 
Given this situation, it is the government that grants religious freedom and other civil rights, while religions deemed to be foreign are supposed to fall in line with local principles. 
 
“As a result, many people hope for political stability rather than more freedom,” he explained.
 
Mary Yuen Mee-yin, a professor in moral theology in the Holy Spirit Seminary College of Theology and Philosophy, said on January 10 that there is tension between the social teaching of the Church and the reality in China. 
 
She explained that while the Chinese government pushes principles like the independence of the Church in China from the Vatican and condones the demolition of crosses on church buildings, the faithful on the mainland, despite their limited rights, are still able to openly oppose the demolitions and launch social welfare projects.
 
Yuen believes that the Church has to engage in dialogue with the Communists and seek common ground while promoting love and justice. She believes Catholics should also believe that they can exercise their influence. 
 
Annie Lam Shun-wai, a researcher of the Holy Spirit Study Centre, looked into the development of the Church in China and the Sino-Vatican agreement.
 
She told the Kung Kao Po on January 10 that lay people in Hong Kong can journey with those on the mainland. She believes with the improved education and the enthusiasm of the young Chinese Catholics, the Church in China has much to share. 
 
She added that as Hong Kong has hosted many international Church events, it can act as a platform for lay people to communicate with the universal Church.
 
Addressing the recent provisional Sino-Vatican agreement, Lam said people tend to have different sentiments and views about it so she hopes the tension can be relieved through communication and prayers.
 
Father Bruno Lepeu, of the Holy Spirit Study Centre, said religion has always been affected by politics so he encourages the people in Hong Kong to learn more about the situation in China and communicate with the people there to facilitate spiritual growth on both sides.

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