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Incoming Bishop Appeals for Unity in Hong Kong’s Split Catholic Community

Stephen Chow Sau-yan prays after a press conference in Hong Kong, May 18, 2021.
Stephen Chow Sau-yan prays after a press conference in Hong Kong, May 18, 2021.

Hong Kong’s incoming Roman Catholic Bishop appealed for tolerance Tuesday to unify a Catholic community split by anti-government protests.

He also vowed to honor the victims of China’s 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, who continued to protest despite the political risks.

In his first public remarks since his May 17 appointment, Stephen Chow urged Catholics to respect various viewpoints as part of an effort to mend a diocese that has been divided since antigovernment protests began in Hong Kong’s in 2019.

He said he did not have a comprehensive plan to unify the diocese, but he believed God wanted them to be united.

Chow offered prayers for the hundreds, if not thousands, of victims killed in the massacre in Tiananmen Square.

"I pray for all those who have passed in 1989, in all aspects, from all walks of life," he said.

But Chow added that legal requirements this year would determine whether public observance of the victims is possible.

Chow participated in previous public events to observe the June 4 anniversary of the Tiananmen Square killings.

Pope Francis named the 62-year-old Chow to head the Hong Kong diocese, replacing Bishop Michael Yeung, who died in 2019.

The Hong Kong native was educated in the United States and Irelan, and is a supervisor at Wah Yan College in Hong Kong.

About 404,000 people in Hong Kong are Catholic, representing about 5.3% of the city’s population.

Chow is tasked with uniting Hong Kong’s Catholic community that is divided between those who view China’s control of Hong Kong as an assault on the city’s freedoms, and pro-establishment advocates who favor a less confrontational strategy.

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