Hong Kong bishop-elect: I am not afraid, but believe prudence is a virtue

Hong Kong Bishop Chow

The newly appointed bishop of Hong Kong says he believes prudence and dialogue were a way forward in the challenges facing his diocese.

Bishop-elect Stephen Chow Sau-yan told journalists that he did not think it would be wise to comment on especially controversial issues, particularly on China, the day after his appointment.

“That would be rash,” he said. “But it is not because I am afraid, but, I think, I believe that prudence is also a virtue.”

During the 45-minute press conference, organized by the Diocese of Hong Kong, Chow responded to questions about religious freedom in Hong Kong.

This is at a time when the region is being tested after the passage of national security laws.

“For me, religious freedom is a basic right,” Chow said.

He added that he believed Cardinal John Tong Hon, the diocese’s apostolic administrator since January 2019, had encouraged the government not to forget the importance of allowing the practice of all faiths.

With “Beijing, I believe that we must also start also with a sense of – we don’t assume they are enemies. So how can we, through our faith have some dialogue, have some understanding together,” the bishop-elect said.

The people of Hong Kong have historically enjoyed freedom of worship and evangelization. While in mainland China there is a long history of persecution for Christians who run afoul of the government.

The Diocese of Hong Kong has been without a permanent bishop since January 2019. Since then, millions of people in Hong Kong, including many Catholics, participated in large-scale pro-democracy protests.

The Chinese government also gained the power to suppress the movement with the passage of national security laws.

When asked if he would publicly mark the June 4 anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, the bishop-elect said that this “depends on the legal requirements.”

Chow said the church will adopt a position of “passive co-operation” in politics as the city grapples with the fall-out from months of protest and the imposition of a wide-ranging national security law by Beijing.

“I pray for China. I pray for all those who have passed in 1989.”

Chow said he thought that “listening and empathy” was very important to heal the divisions within Hong Kong. He added that “unity is not the same as uniformity.”

“I’ve just been appointed. I really have no grand plan of how to unify. But, I do believe there is a God, and God wants us to be united,” he said.


Catholic News Agency

Hong Kong Free Press

America Magazine

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