Bishop John’s Travel Diary: Hong Kong and VietnamSaturday 24th June 2023
Earlier this month, Bishop John took a trip to the Far East to develop links with dioceses in Hong Kong and Vietnam
As always, Bishop John documented his trip with a daily diary to keep people across the diocese updated on his work overseas.
Dear friends, I am about to begin another trip to the Far East. Again, in order to limit the number of flights, I have put two trips together. I am sticking to my decision not to fly for recreational reasons and only for work and combining trips when possible. This plan will be employed again in July and August when I am combining the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes with World Youth Day in Lisbon and a conference in Portugal.
The reason for going to Hong Kong arises from the very considerable migration of Hong Kong Chinese to this country following the increased political manoeuvres by mainland Chine to increase its control over Hong Kong. This would seem to be in direct conflict with the agreement made with the United Kingdom in 1997 when we withdrew our administration. I am not sure of the numbers of Hong Kong Chinese who are thought to have moved to the UK but it is clear that Manchester has received a large number, and many of them are Catholics.
The Catholic Church in this country has made generous provisions for the many ethnic groups arriving in this country. The Hong Kong Chinese are rather different. Unlike other groups arriving who are often economic migrants and refugees with real needs and vulnerability, the Hong Kong Chinese are often professional people arriving with employment already agreed. They are able to afford housing and are economically independent. My experience here in the Diocese of Salford is that they settle quickly in their parishes and, although there may be some language difficulties, they have even begun to volunteer for parish activities. However, they lack pastoral provision in their own Cantonese Chinese language. It is clear that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is widely used in Hong Kong and there are needs for pastoral counselling and marriage preparation which really need to be provided in conversational Cantonese in order to be of real assistance.
It is my hope that I can agree some form of provision of priests (and religious sisters) from Hong Kong – whether that be priests visiting this country or having some priests resident here for a period of time. Certainly, Bishop Stephen Chow of Hong Kong has been very keen to meet and discuss the matter. I am to be his guest for six days and I hope to learn something of the present situation of the Church in Hong Kong.
I will then be some days in Vietnam, following up the very successful visit last year to the Diocese of Vinh where we are hoping to progress the agreement of selecting some candidates for studies and priestly ordination for the Diocese of Salford.
That is the introduction to the trip and now I must wait and see how it all unfolds. I am certainly looking forward to a positive outcome to discussions in Hong Kong and a good selection of candidates in Vietnam. I begin my journey with a flight from Manchester to Doha on Sunday 28th May and hope to write the diary until my return on 12th June. Please click the links below to read the diaries in full.