Commissioned to protect life
HONG KONG (SE): At a Mass celebrated at the cathedral on May 31 to mark Pro-Life Day, the bishop of Hong Kong, John Cardinal Tong Hon, challenged all organisations in the diocese to be promoters of life.
It is the first time that the diocese has formally marked Pro-Life Day. In his message, which was published at the end of April, the cardinal stressed that human life should be protected from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.
Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing and a deacon, Reverend William Li Fook-sung, the chairperson of the Diocesan Pastoral Commission for Marriage and the Family, also took part in the Mass which was attended by over 500 people.
A shrine to the patron of the unborn, Our Lady of Guadalupe, was venerated at the Mass and prayers were offered for all the unborn, the sick and suffering, as well as victims of violence.
Cardinal Tong urged people to be courageous in their living out of the gospel of life.
Bishop Ha described what he called a culture of death as depriving people of their hope in life.
The auxiliary bishop of Hong Kong encouraged people to be witnesses to hope in life and work to create a caring society to encourage those who despair and let them know that others do care about them.
Bishop Ha lamented that this is producing a culture of hopelessness in the modern world, which has become a dominant factor in eroding the strength of interpersonal relationships.
He described abortion and suicide as giving in to despair in life, adding that it is especially important to protect the unborn, as they have no voice to speak for themselves.
Quoting from the encyclical of Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae), Bishop Ha said life is a strong source of joy in people and the protection of life not only refers to its physical dimension, but also to the word of God.
At a commissioning ceremony during the Mass, 10 pro-life organisations from the diocese, lay communities and medical groups, were encouraged to continue with their work.
Joseph Kam Kai-man, a doctor and the chairperson of the Pro-Life Ministry of the Diocesan Pastoral Commission for Marriage and the Family, said he hopes that people will not only see Pro-Life Day as an event organised by the related   groups, but also live out its message when they come across such issues in their daily lives.
Kam added that the target of pro-life work can be extended to more marginalised groups.
Cheng Wing-ho, a social worker in a sex education programme organised by the Caritas, was among those commissioned by the cardinal during the Mass.
Cheng said he believes that sex education is important for young people, as it can help them understand the value of life which is something that cannot be treated casually.
He pointed out that popular culture tends to overrate sex, while at the same time undermine the value of life. He believes that both need to be presented in a more balanced context.
Yeung Sau-chun, a member of Faith and Light Group, added that she hopes parishes can develop a more understanding culture for mentally-challenged people and give them opportunities to play a role in various activities.
Display boards depicting the mission of the participating groups were set up outside the cathedral to show the breadth of involvement the diocese has in promoting respect for life.
Description:     from Sunday Examiner)