07/28/2009, 00.00
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Msgr Domingos Lam, Bishop Emeritus of Macau, dies.

by James Wang
He led the diocese through the period of transition from Portuguese to Chinese rule.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Bishop Domingos Lam Ka-Tseung, Bishop Emeritus of Macau died yesterday at the age of 81. He led the diocese at the time of Macau’s transition from a Portuguese colony to its return to mainland China in 1999. His successor, Msgr. Jose Lai Hung-seng, told a Catholic weekly of Hong Kong, Mgr. Lam had been in hospital with deteriorating health conditions since May last

Bishop Lai had words of praise for his predecessor, recalling his efforts to develop and strengthen the Catholic Church during Macau’s transition from Portugal to China. He increased the number of prayer centres and parochial halls to strengthen the network of parishes. He also supervised the growth of cultural institutions to increase the influence of the Church on the territory. Bishop Lam was also among the advisers to the Chinese Government for the drafting of the Basic Law, the mini-constitution that would guide the territory after 1999.

The transition of Macao to Chinese rule was not as traumatic as that of Hong Kong in '97. Many economic aspects of the then Portuguese colony were already under the guidance of Beijing and the transition was thus far softer. The issue of religious freedom did not even give rise to difficulties.

The diocese of Macao was the first to be founded by Jesuits in the Far East in 1576. Bishop Lam was the first ethnic Chinese bishop in Macao, succeeding Portuguese Bishop Arguiminio Rodrigues da Costa in 1988. One year earlier Msgr. Lam had been elected coadjutor bishop. Bishop Lam left the leadership of the diocese when he reached 75 years of age, in 2003.

Photos. Bishop Lam receives an award from Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio (1999).

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