CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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How Church has grown with Hong Kong

HONG KONG (SE): Around 80 people attended seminar about the role of the Catholic Church in the development of Hong Kong over the past century, organised by the Centre for Catholic Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong on April 27.
 
Father Louis Ha Ke-loon, director of the centre and the diocesan archivist, talked about the relationship between the Catholic Church and the city. 
 
He said the number of Catholics increased rapidly after the influx of migrants who fled from mainland China during and after the two world wars, the civil war and the change of political regimes. 
 
This was also the time in which Catholic Church played an active role in developing the facilities of the city.
 
Father Ha also recounted that, as the apostolic letter, Maximum illud, issued by Pope Benedict XV 100 years ago, urged the Church was to respect cultural differences, by the second half of the 20th century Chinese bishops were being appointed to head the diocese and in 1960s, the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) began handing over ministries to local priests.
 
Father Ha said the Church made a lot of effort to help solve labour disputes in 1970s. Later in 1980s, it adopted a neutral attitude on political issues but was ready to speak up and take action when necessary.
 
Father Ha said he believed the positive impression of the Church in the hearts of Hong Kong people was nurtured by their experiences in the 50 to 60 years following the Second World War. 
 
In those years, Church people set up different groups to address social problems. 
 
In one example, the Industrial Relations Institute was set up in 1968 by Jesuit Father Patrick Terence McGovern, who was also an unofficial member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, to help solve labour problems. 
 
Another example put forward was the effort of PIME Father Giosuè Bonzi in promoting the wellbeing of mentally-disadvantaged people through his work with the Fu Hong Society. 
 
Father Bonzi was awarded Hong Kong’s Bronze Bauhinia Star in 2018 for his service.
 
The talk was sponsored by the Diocesan Archives Office and the Kung Kao Po.

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