10/03/2023, 16.13
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Hong Kong’s accreditation council gives the green light to a Catholic university

The Caritas Institute of Higher Education meets the criteria to become a private university. Now it’s up to the Hong Kong government to approve the new establishment, to be called Saint Francis University. Hong Kong’s Card Stephen Chow has pushed hard for this project. Writing in the diocesan weekly, he reflects upon Francis’s thoughts about China, urging the faithful to “be patient, sincere, and consistent, and keep up our hope in the unfailing love of God.”

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Hong Kong authorities are close to officially approving a Catholic university promoted by the local diocese, which Bishop Stephen Chow has mentioned on several occasions.

According to the Headline Daily, a Chinese-language newspaper, the Caritas Institute of Higher Education (CIHE), a post-secondary college with a strong nursing programme, has been given the green light by the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications (HKCAAVQ).

The latter is tasked with academic and vocational accreditation, education and training and quality assurance, which allows educational establishments to be upgraded to university status.

For the CIHE, the last, political hurdle is the formal approval by the government under Chief Executive John Lee. If this happens, Hong Kong would get a new private university, the third after Hong Kong Shue Yan University (HKSYU or SYU) and Hang Seng University of Hong Kong (HSUHK).

Back in the 1970s, then Bishop Francis Hsu pushed for such an institution. Today, along with the Caritas Bianchi College of Careers,[*] the CIHE offers post-secondary programmes in 35 different disciplines, ranging from social sciences to technologies and economics with about 2,500 students.

Card Chow actively promoted the idea of a Catholic university in Hong Kong when he was the local superior of the Jesuits, before he became bishop.

The initial idea was to build an entirely new university in Fanling, close to the border with the mainland, but the authorities rejected it for urban planning reasons.

Once he became bishop, Card Chow revived the project by suggesting that the CIHE be turned into a university.

While he was in Rome to receive his cardinal’s biretta on Saturday, the Hong Kong diocesan weekly published an article in which he talks about Pope Francis’s visit to Mongolia and what he said about China at the end of the Mass in Ulaanbaatar.

“I must say that the holding of hands would have been better if Bishop Stephen Lee, the Bishop of Macau, was included,” the cardinal writes, citing the moment when Francis called him and Card John Tong and mentioned another Chinese bishop present at the ceremony.

“Nonetheless, the gesture of our Holy Father is clear enough. Our Pope loves China and the Chinese people A LOT! And there is no contradiction whatsoever for anyone to be a good Christian and a good citizen. Basically, both identities should be able to coexist in harmony. 

“Both Pope Francis and his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, have clarified that evangelisation does not imply proselytism. [. . .] Evangelisation is about bearing witness to the love of God, which watches over us and lifts us up when we are down.”

Thus, “In order for the Church to grow, we must attract others with our life-giving testimonies so they will understand who we are and are willing to collaborate with us or allow us to collaborate with them for the greater good.”

While stressing how “Pope Francis and his predecessors have tried earnestly to assure the Chinese government about the loving mission of the Church,” he urges the faithful not to forget “the historical backdrop of China having been exploited and assaulted by foreign powers, which might have included some missionaries.”

The same thing goes for “government bureaucracy that exists in all countries. Hence, we need to pray earnestly, be patient, sincere, and consistent, and keep up our hope in the unfailing love of God.”

[*] Named after Bishop Lorenzo Bianchi, a PIME missionary who served as Hong Kong’s bishop and spend time in prison in mainland China.

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