Bishop Chow arrives in Beijing in the footsteps of Matteo Ricci

The bishop of Hong Kong began his visit, at the invitation of the “official” archdiocese of the Chinese capital. Welcomed by Archbishop Li Shan and a few dozen faithful, he prayed in the cathedral before an image of the Jesuit pioneer of Christianity’s inculturation in China. His visit’s goal is to “promote exchanges and interactions between the two sides”.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Bishop Stephen Chow of Hong Kong began his visit to Beijing, on the path set by Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), the great Jesuit pioneer of the mission and inculturation of Christianity in China.

Welcomed yesterday upon his arrival in the Chinese capital, Bishop Chow took part in an evening prayer in the Church of the Saviour with Archbishop Li Shan, who has chaired the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association since last summer, and a few dozen faithful, an image of Matteo Ricci in front of the altar.

Known in China as Li Madou, the great Jesuit pioneer was declared venerable last December by Pope Francis with the promulgation of the decree on heroic virtues, the first step towards beatification.

Bishop Chow, a Jesuit like Matteo Ricci, is the first bishop of Hong Kong to make an official visit to the Archdiocese of Beijing since the former British colony was returned to China in 1997.

In 2008 the then Coadjutor Bishop John Tong had been invited to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, but he was not allowed to meet Archbishop Li Shan.

Bishop Chow, who is accompanied by Vicar General Fr Peter Choy and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha, will remain in Beijing until Friday. During his stay, he is expected to visit important sites and organisations of the "official" Catholic community, including the Theological Seminary where many future Chinese priests study.

When, on 9 March, he announced the visit, after receiving the invitation from the Archdiocese of Beijing, Bishop Chow stressed that “the mission of the Diocese of Hong Kong is to be a bridge Church and promote exchanges and interactions between the two sides.”

The long-awaited trip comes a few days after Bishop Shen Bin was transferred to Shanghai by Chinese authorities in a unilateral decision taken despite the agreement with the Holy See on episcopal appointment signed in 2018 and renewed for a second time last October.