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Hong Kong gets new bishop

VATICAN CITY – At 12 noon on 1 Aug 2017 the Holy See press office announced that Msgr Michael Yeung Ming-cheung  is now the ordinary bishop of Hong Kong, following the retirement of Cardinal John Tong from leadership of the diocese.

Bishop Yeung, 72, was appointed coadjutor bishop on 13 November 2016. Card Tong, 79, had resigned four years ago, but Pope Francis extended his responsibility until 2017.

Bishop Yeung was born in Shanghai on 1 December 1945 into a Catholic family and arrived in Hong Kong when he was four years old. He worked in an import-export firm before entering the Hong Kong Seminary at age 26. He was ordained a priest on 10 June 1978. He completed studies in communications (Syracuse, USA) and in philosophy and education (Harvard, USA). Since August 2003 he has been Head of Caritas in the Territory and General Vicar since 2009. He was ordained auxiliary bishop in August 2014.

The news was also announced in Hong Kong at 6 o’clock in the afternoon.

Several observers wonder whether Msgr Yeung will follow  Cardinal Tong’s line of dialogue and kindness towards China, or whether he will take up the more irreverent positions of Cardinal Joseph Zen, a great advocate of religious freedom and very much a friend of the democratic movement of the area.

After his appointment as coadjutor bishop during the closing Mass of the Holy Year of Mercy, Msgr Yeung knelt before Card Tong and then in front of Card Zen. He considers them both “as two great trees under which he can enjoy some shade.”

While not supporting the extremist and independent positions of some youth fringes, he has often expressed his support for Hong Kong’s demands for democracy, warning China of being too heavy handed and hasty regarding the Territory’s affairs, to safeguard the principle of “One nation, two systems.”

In a press conference, after his appointment as coadjutor, he also explained his position on the China-Holy See dialogue: he is happy with the Vatican’s optimism in seeking dialogue with China. “China is a huge country with many issues,” he said, “results cannot be reached quickly, including human rights, which is a matter of concern. Relationships must be developed step by step, bearing in mind human rights, which are a topic of concern. ”

In a brief interview with the South China Morning Post Aug 1, Card Tong first said that he was “grateful” for everything he had experienced. He added, he has “full confidence” in Msgr Yeung. “He is better than me in every way … I am sure he will do better and better.”

Bishop Yeung is also a fierce defender of the family based on the relationship between man and woman. For this reason, he has been criticised by Hong Kong gay lobbies. –

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