Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing attends a 2017 prayer service in Hong Kong to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. (Photo courtesy by UCA News)
Sourced from the UCA News by Tracy Cabrera
HONG KONG — Christians in this former British crown colony have criticized China in the city state’s affairs including religion, which they said is now being influenced by the communist politburo even as it reminded the rule on ‘separation of church and state’.
With the death of Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung last January 2019, for over two years Hong Kong has been without a bishop and Cardinal John Tong Hon, aged nearly 82, has served as apostolic administrator from the time of Yeung’s passing despite having retired as bishop in favor of Michael Yeung in 2017.
The question now posed by most Christians is why is the Church taking so long to appoint a new bishop?
The short answer, they said, is politics while the slightly longer answer is that the Vatican is searching for a candidate who will please Beijing without infuriating the faithful in Hong Kong.
The obvious choice would be current Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing, who is widely loved and respected in Hong Kong as a pastoral leader who cares for his flock and a shepherd who combines wisdom and courage, to stand true to his values as a religious leader without being a firebrand.
But for the regime in Beijing and its puppets in Hong Kong, this is not good enough. They demand nothing less than absolute, total, unquestioning loyalty and any hint of dissent is by itself an immediate disqualification.
Bishop Ha has wisely kept his head down recently, but in 2019 he appeared often at prayer vigils during the protest movement, saying that “no matter how long” the protesters stayed, he would stay with them.
“The shepherd should not just be with the sheep but also guide them,” he added. And he spoke out against police brutality, saying: “They just want to voice their demands. Why do they deserve that (violence)? I can’t understand why Hong Kong has become like this today. We just want to live freely. We don’t deserve it.”
Such statements earned Bishop Ha an immediate black mark in Beijing.
Where China is concerned, the Vatican prefers to play politics and diplomacy rather than exercise its moral leadership
But Hong Kong is not—at least not yet—part of the Vatican’s agreement with Beijing over the appointment of bishops. On paper, Hong Kong maintains its autonomy, at least over ecclesiastical affairs. So again, why is Rome delaying?
Again, the sad answer is that where China is concerned, the Vatican prefers to play politics and diplomacy rather than exercise its moral leadership. In the big scheme of things, the appointment of a bishop of Hong Kong is a small matter by comparison with its continued silence over the genocide of the Uighurs, the intensifying persecution of Christians in China, or the destruction of Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy in total breach of an international treaty, the Sino-British Joint Declaration. But it is illustrative.
On April 16, nine of Hong Kong’s most prominent, internationally respected, moderate, mainstream, peaceful and senior pro-democracy campaigners were sentenced, having been convicted the day before Good Friday of unauthorized assembly for taking part in protests in 2019.
Six of them—Martin Lee, the so-called father of the democracy movement and one of the city’s most respected barristers, media tycoon Jimmy Lai, solicitor Albert Ho, parliamentarian and trade unionist Lee Cheuk-yan, parliamentarian Cyd Ho and intellectual Margaret Ng—are Catholics. While the Catholic media worldwide has recognized this in its coverage, Rome has stayed silent.(AI/MTVN)