PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 July, 2012, 12:00am


Church right to ordain own bishops

Emperor Constantine legitimised Christianity in the 4th century and dominated Christendom.

When he chaired the Council of Nicaea in AD325, the bishop of Rome was just one of some 1,800 bishops from various parts of the Roman Empire at the ecclesiastical meeting. In AD800, the pope gave Charlemagne, king of the Franks, a title that eventually became known as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

The pope took orders from Charlemagne, including the one to add, reluctantly though, the word filioque ('the son' in English) to the decision made almost 500 years earlier at the Council of Nicaea, so that the decision became 'The Holy Spirit comes from the Father and the Son'.

This addition was challenged by bishops outside the emperor's sphere of power, resulting in the Schism in 1054, whereby Christianity split into the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

In 1077, the pope started the struggle with the emperor for dominance. Civil wars were fought between German princes loyal to the pope and those loyal to the emperor.

The dispute centred on whether the pope or the emperor could ordain bishops. The wars split Germany into many states, and it would not be a united country again until 1871.

Through these conflicts, the pope won the exclusive right to ordain bishops. But is it really an exclusive right? The Maronite Catholic Church in the Middle East still retains the right to ordain bishops, and the Vatican is only happy to receive, subsequently, the notification about the ordinations.

That the Catholic Church on the mainland is doing the same should not be treated as a sin.

Lai Shing-kin, Quarry Bay

Christians wary of Leung's links

New Chief Executive Leung Chung-ying is seen as being sympathetic to the Chinese Communist Party and less concerned with the policies adopted during Hong Kong's long history as a British colony.

This is an important issue when it comes to religion.

Religious freedom has been enjoyed since the colony was ceded to Britain in 1842. Christians have thus far eluded the untold persecution that ravaged the mainland following the 1949 communist revolution. Many residents are wary of the party's dismal human rights record and its implications for Christians in Hong Kong.

Churches in the city are likely to vigorously oppose any attempt by Beijing to impose its religious policies under its new chief executive.

Residents have little tolerance for the party's nefarious schemes to dismantle their autonomy.

Brian Stuckey, Denver, Colorado, US

War on drugs wastes lives and money

There was yet another photo opportunity with customs officers in front of the 'city's biggest seizure of cocaine' ('Customs seizes record HK$760 million cocaine haul', July 7).

Yet another boast that the seizures reflect 'determination and confidence to fight against trafficking of illegal drugs'.

Yet another bit of nonsense.

A recent New York Times article noted that the price of cocaine today is 74 per cent cheaper than it was 30 years ago. This number proves, as the article pointed out, 'that the struggle on which they have spent billions of dollars and lost tens of thousands of lives over the last four decades has failed'.

Harvard University studies show that legalising all illicit drugs would produce net benefits to the US of US$65 billion a year by reduced spending on enforcement and less crime.

Even if we can't accept legalising, there are other options. The Global Commission on Drug Policy, with former presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Brazil, wants national governments to 'depenalise' drug possession and sales. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an international organisation of criminal justice professionals who have seen the wasteful futility and harm of current drug policies, calls for repeal of prohibition and replacement with a tight system of legalised regulation (like alcohol).

Why does Hong Kong feel it necessary to parrot America's failed, costly and dangerous 'war on drugs'? Why don't we talk about better ways?

We should have the guts to consider these other options - legalisation or 'depenalisation' - rather than exulting in yet another pointless drug haul. A haul that does nothing to stem the flow and price of illicit drugs. Or are the photo opportunities just too hard to resist?

Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay

Bilingualism is a Canadian success story

At the consulate of Canada, we follow with great interest your My Take column.

However, we must disagree with the comparison Alex Lo drew with regard to the ability of French-speaking Canadians from Quebec to mix 'with the rest of the English-speaking country' ('Hong Kong blind to China's renaissance', July 10). We believe this to be an over-simplification and a reductive analysis of Canada's linguistic and cultural success.

Our country is bilingual, with two official languages placed on an equal footing. Both French and English are fundamental to the Canadian identity. We are proud of this unique characteristic and the fact that our two official languages truly underpin a modern and multicultural society based on tolerance and pluralism.

French-speaking Canadians continue to actively contribute to Canada's success at home and abroad. They are well integrated and proud participants and citizens, whether they be Quebecers, Acadians, Franco-Manitobans, to name only some of the many places where they live together with fellow English-speaking Canadians.

Every day, the vitality of the Francophonie across Canada (from sea to sea to sea) demonstrates that our multi-linguistic heritage contributes to our strength and vitality as a country.

Venez le constater par vous-meme! Come and see for yourself!

Jean-Christian Brillant, consul and spokesman, consulate of Canada

Officials need to enforce smoking ban

I refer to the letter by David Tjian ('Officers failing to be proactive', July 3) about people breaking no-smoking rules.

There are some people who break the law on purpose. I saw a man smoking at a food stall in the government market complex at Sheung Shui. Rather than phoning the Tobacco Control Office, diners just moved away from him. I can understand this. Gangsters can cause problems and the ones who eventually suffer can be stall owners and their families.

I saw a Hospital Authority poster at Fanling Medical Centre in nine languages reminding people that those who violated the no-smoking ban would be fined.

However, I see no similar posters from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department or Tobacco Control Office in food courts. The authorities are not treating the smoking ban as a priority.

This is in contrast to America, where they take the smoking ban regulations very seriously.

Pang Chi-ming, Fanling

Explain ugly fence on Bowen Road

Would anyone from a relevant government department care to explain why permanent chain-link hurricane fencing topped by barbed wire is being placed along both sides of Bowen Road?

This is happening from the intersection of Bowen Drive and Bowen Road to the intersection of Wan Chai Gap Road and Bowen Road, a distance of approximately 1.5 kilometres.

To add insult to injury, the fencing is adjacent to the ubiquitous corrugated steel railings and appears to be set in concrete.

It looks like someone is expecting a terrorist attack on Bowen Road.

Stuart R. McCarthy, Western district

Why was bin Laden harboured?

Hong Kong-based Pakistanis have the right to criticise the US about the accidental deaths of civilians in their country during the ongoing war against terrorism ('HK Pakistanis rally against US killings', July 9).

But they also have a duty to explain to the world why their country harboured the murderer Osama bin Laden, who was responsible for the deaths, not just of Americans, but of Europeans, Asians and Africans on September 11, 2001.

Renata Lopez, Wan Chai