Protesters besiege coadjutor bishop of the Catholic diocese of Hong Kong over gay rights stance

Michael Yeung Ming-cheung appointed by Vatican on Sunday was also confronted on his views over Beijing’s recent interpretation of the Basic Law

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 November, 2016, 11:46pm
UPDATED : Monday, 14 November, 2016, 11:46pm

The newly appointed coadjutor bishop of the Catholic diocese of Hong Kong was besieged by protesters on his first day in the post yesterday over his stance on gay rights and other political issues.

Michael Yeung Ming-cheung, 69, was appointed by the Vatican on Sunday, and is expected to become bishop of Hong Kong after Cardinal John Tong Hon’s term expires next year. Tong, 77, has passed the retirement age of 75.

A coadjutor bishop is appointed to assist the bishop in administration of the diocese.

Yeung was confronted by a group of protesters on his views over Beijing’s recent interpretation of the Basic Law, as well as remarks he made comparing homosexuality with drug addiction.

“This is what youngsters are like, being passionate and fearless, you cannot expect them to be all very obedient,” Yeung said. “Even I may not agree with them completely, I will tolerate them.”

Yeung attended a graduation ceremony at Caritas Institute of Higher Education in Tseung Kwan O on his first day in the position yesterday during which a group of students held up banners and rainbow flags in protest.

The students surrounded Yeung and stopped him leaving the venue, at which point he explained his thoughts on a number of issues.

Yeung said the interpretation of the Basic Law was regrettable and believed it was not necessary despite the central government having a right to make the move.

He said he had been misquoted by some media on remarks about homosexuality.

“I meant that even if children take drugs, their parents will disagree but they still love them. I have the same feeling towards homosexual people. Even if I disagree, I still love and respect them,” he said.

He was firm on insisting Hong Kong should not become independent from China, saying the idea was “absolutely impossible and unfeasible”.

“I am Chinese by blood, my parents are Chinese and I passionately love Chinese culture,” he said.

He added he believed most people who placed more emphasis on the Hong Kong part of their identity were showing localist sentiment rather than supporting independence.

“They want to keep a little distance from the mainland. But this can be done by implementing the Basic Law and one country, two systems principle,” he said. “There is no need for independence.”

Yeung said the church would not get involved in the election of the next chief executive as it did not agree with the voting system.

He said it would be good for the Vatican to begin talks with the central government, although human rights issues would be one topic of concern.

Born in Shanghai in 1946, Yeung has been auxiliary bishop of Hong Kong since August 2014.