Catholic Church

New Hong Kong bishop signals need for political reform drive

Michael Yeung says it would be a shame if Hong Kong people only cared about economic growth

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 August, 2017, 9:52pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 August, 2017, 10:51pm

The Catholic Church will call for action to relaunch the political reform process at an appropriate time, as it would be the city’s shame if people only cared about economic growth.

The comment was made by Hong Kong’s new bishop, Michael Yeung Ming-cheung, at a eucharistic celebration at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Caine Road on Saturday afternoon to mark the commencement of his ministry.

Among those attending the mass were Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, former leader Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and his wife Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei, finance minister Paul Chan Mo-po, labour minister Law Chi-kwong and food and health chief Sophia Chan Siu-chee.

When the mass began, Yeung entered the church in the company of his predecessor, retiring Cardinal John Tong Hon, and other clergy officials. Tong expressed gratitude to the public for its support as he walked Yeung into the cathedral.

In his speech, Yeung said the diocese had drawn attention to important livelihood and social issues including political reform, which he said was important for the well-being of Hong Kong.

“The church is not a political party. The church knows its role is different from that of a political party. If need be, the church should make a call [to relaunch political reform] in a proper way so the concerned parties can act accordingly,” Yeung said.

“If one day ... people only care about the city’s economic growth, it would be a shame.”

The head of the Catholic Church also pointed to the problem of “relationships poverty”, reminding young people that electronic devices could not replace person-to-person relations in life.

Yeung walked over to the government officials and shook hands with them after receiving blessings from the clergy and practitioners.

Yeung, 71, was appointed by Pope Francis to succeed Tong on Tuesday – a day after Tong’s 78th birthday.

Before becoming bishop, Yeung drew criticism when he appeared to compare homosexuality with drug addiction.

In November 2015, the then auxiliary bishop said the Catholic Church would speak up against homosexual behaviour just as it would against drug abuse.

But Yeung insisted on Wednesday that he was misquoted at the time, as all he wanted to say was that the church would love gay people even though it did not accept homosexuality.

He also pledged to speak out on issues related to freedoms and human rights, but insisted that the church could not compromise the biblical teachings against homosexual behaviour.

The new bishop also pledged to pay more attention to the underprivileged and urged the government to listen to young people’s voices.