The bishop’s five-day visit to the Chinese capital is over. Asked by local journalists about patriotism, the bishop of Hong Kong said that “we have to learn to love the country and the church”. The visit has not been reported by official Catholic bodies.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Bishop Stephen Chow of Hong Kong’s five-day visit to Beijing ended yesterday morning with a Mass at St Joseph's Church.
The visit came at the direct invitation of Archbishop Li Shan of Beijing, who also heads the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. It was also the first of its kind since 1994 when Card John Wu headed the Diocese of Hong Kong and had the habit of visiting the Chinese capital.
Speaking on Thursday to international media in Beijing at the end of a Mass, he concelebrated with Archbishop Li Shan in the Church of the Most Holy Saviour, Bishop Chow said he had invited the archbishop to visit Hong Kong, which met with a "fairly positive" response.
With respect to the visit, the prelate stressed the importance of exchanging experiences, in particular about the training of young priests. On Tuesday, Bishop Chow visited Beijing’s great national seminary, where many seminarians from other Chinese dioceses are also studying.
To a question about patriotism, he replied: "We all have to learn to love the country and the Church. Everybody wants their country to do well. Nobody wants their country to be bad. Being patriotic is a duty. If you are [a] resident of Hong Kong or the mainland, you should love your own country”.
In the brief homily during the celebration, cited on Vatican News, Bishop Chow spoke to the faithful present about the synodal journey promoted by Pope Francis in the Churches of the whole world.
This journey, he said, invites “all members of the Church to listen to each other and, even more, to learn to listen to the Holy Spirit who guides us on our journey."
He added: “The Holy Spirit is the God of unity not of division. For this reason, we hope that the Diocese of Hong Kong, the Diocese of Beijing, and all the Catholic communities on the mainland can have more intense collaboration and exchanges in the communion of love."
As noted, the visit to the Archdiocese of Beijing was strictly ecclesial. Nevertheless, on Tuesday Bishop Chow met with representatives from the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA).
As expected, the prelate did not participate in any official event nor was any meeting with the new bishop of Shanghai, Mgr Shen Bin, announced. The latter, who was recently transferred unilaterally, heads the Council of Chinese Bishops, a body not recognised by the Holy See, but which enables him to meet with important visitors to Beijing.
Thus far, neither China Catholic, the official website of Chinese Catholic organisations, nor the Archdiocese of Beijing post any information or pictures of Bishop Chow’s visit to Beijing on WeChat. Hong Kong newspapers and international agencies are the main source of information for the visit.