Focusing on a reconciliatory Church

From left to right, Bishop Joseph Ha, Tam Wai-lun, Anselm Lam, Father Stephen Chow, Father Stephen Tong and Father Gerard Whelan, at the Centre for Catholic Studies.

HONG KONG (AsiaNews/SE): The Centre for Catholic Studies will be focusing its research on a reconciliatory and discerning Church in the coming few years, according to its new director, Anselm Lam Wing-kwan, during the inauguration ceremony on October 23. The event also marked the centre’s cooperation with the Jesuits in its research.

Lam, a scholar whose studies cover social ethics, the relationship between Church and politics, as well as sustainable development, took over as director of the centre, succeeding Father Louis Ha Ke-loon. 

Lam said that the institute would conduct studies on reconciliation. According to a report in AsiaNews, he hopes the centre can make a positive contribution at a time when this is very much needed in Hong Kong’s socially divided society after months of violence caused by political discontent.

During the ceremony, Father Stephen Chow Sau-yan, provincial superior of the Chinese Jesuit Province, said the Society of Jesus has now taken part in academic research in China, Taiwan, Macau as well as Hong Kong. He said the Jesuits are sponsoring the studies of the centre and have set up a committee on apostolic research work so that the centre can make cultural and spiritual contributions in the Jesuit tradition.

“We are sponsoring the centre in the coming three years. Its long term future will be under our consideration and discernment during these years,” Jesuit Father Stephen Tong Chak-long, a member of the management committee of the centre, told the Sunday Examiner.

Jesuit Father Gerard Whelan gave a lecture on the same day as the inauguration ceremony on A Discerning Church: Pope Francis and Theological Method, in which he explained the vision and approaches of the Church under Pope Francis, drawing on the thoughts by Bernard Lonergan (1904-1984), a Canadian Jesuit theologian.

The day before, Father Whelan, a professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, delivered a lecture on Reconciliation: Longeran’s Idea of Conversion, attracting about a hundred participants. 

Professor Tam Wai-lun, chairperson of the Department of Cultural and Religious Studies thanked Father Ha for his efforts which laid a good foundation for the centre. Tam said he is happy to see the centre moving into a new era of development.

The centre had been under the management of Father Ha for more than 10 years. He retired last August, but remains the archivist of the Diocese of Hong Kong.

In an interview with the Kung Kao Po, Father Ha said the centre has to face the public and it is part of the Department of Cultural and Religious Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and it is independent of any Church organisation. As a result, it has been dedicated to promoting understanding of Catholicism, as well as exploring topics such as liturgical music, Church architecture and arts in Hong Kong, and the world at large. 

Father Ha acknowledged the efforts of the team at the centre in establishing a network with overseas scholars and inviting them to speak at seminars to promote an exchange of views on different topics. 

The centre has two other ongoing research projects. The first is on the history of the Holy Spirit Seminary (originally called Regional Seminary for South China), which will mark its 90th anniversary next year, while the other project concerns the history of the Hong Kong Federation of Catholic Students.

During the ceremony Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing talked about how the Church in Hong Kong plays a discerning and listening role for society and for the poor. He spoke of how the Church launched the Year of Youth in 2018 and how it has been distributing free meals for the poor. He also spoke about the situation of the Church given the issues surrounding the now-withdrawn extradition bill.

Author: SundayExam