Catholics Not in Communion With Rome

Anglican Church in HK has strayed from supporting genuine Christian values

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 January, 2012, 12:00am

In his Christmas address, Anglican archbishop Paul Kwong berates hawkers operating at Fa Yuen Street for 'selfish' behaviour with regard to their opposition to more stringent regulations on street market operations ('Church leaders hit out at 'selfish' Hong Kong', December 24).

He then turns to troublesome neighbours who oppose development projects. Note there is no reference to the Anglican Church's plans to build a seminary, kindergarten and other facilities on government land adjacent to its site on Mount Butler.

Residents maintain that they were not consulted and the project will have an adverse impact on property values and traffic conditions in the area. According to the archbishop, these residents should be prepared to make sacrifices for the public good - read, the good of his church.

The church is being gifted a substantial tract of prime land in exchange for allowing the preservation of historical and listed buildings on its compound at Lower Albert Road. Surely the very notion that the church should demand its pound of flesh to ensure the integrity of these buildings is an act of supreme selfishness on its part?

The oldest building, Bishop's House, was handed over to the church in 1849 by the colonial chaplain. Unlike the hawkers toiling on Fa Yuen Street seven days a week, 12 hours a day, the first archbishop and his successors have never had to break sweat to enjoy the benefits of this prime central site. The church should recognise its good fortune and make some sacrifices to enrich the community instead of pursuing every last possible benefit that it appears to be legally entitled to.

But this is the church that went to court to avoid paying legitimate profits tax when it redeveloped St Christopher's Home at Tai Po, originally slated to be a home for retired clergy, into the Deerhill Bay luxury development. The church made a profit of HK$452 million on the deal while Sheng Kung Hui Foundation, which manages church properties, was allocated 120 units and earned HK$667 million. No doubt it will, in time, find some excuse to redevelop the Mount Butler facilities into an equally lucrative residential complex.

The archbishop should read the Sermon on the Mount, 'And why beholdest thou the mote in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam in thine own eye?' and reflect on how far the church has strayed from supporting genuine Christian values.

Martin Brinkley, Ma Wan