Posted by: rbbadger | August 3, 2008

Back in Korea

Well, I am back home now.  And I must say, it is good to be back.  I left one very humid place for one slightly less humid place.  Still, I am happy to be here all the same.

Yesterday evening, I was able to attend the Latin Mass in Hong Kong.  His Eminence, Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kuin, S.D.B., Bishop of Hong Kong has given great encouragement for the Latin Mass and has given it a home at Mary, Help of Christians Church in Kowloon.  While having the availability of the Mass in our own language can be a great help, especially where missionary labours are concerned, we mustn’t loose sight of our heritage.  It was wonderful to see quite a few young people there.  But probably the best thing that happened was the assistance that a Chinese seminarian for the Salesian religious community gave me.  He saw me in the Church and figured (correctly, in this case) that I didn’t understand Chinese.  While the Mass was in Latin, the sermon was in Chinese.  So, he sat down next to me and translated the sermon into English for me.  I was very grateful for his help.  The people were very kind and some of them spoke English remarkably well.  It was an interesting glimpse into the Catholic Church in China as it was fifty years ago, long before Chinese began to be used at Mass and where Latin was the norm for the whole Church.   All the Gregorian chant propers were sung and everybody sang the Latin Mass parts.  After Mass, some of the youth got up and spoke about World Youth Day in Australia, so Brother Carlos again translated for me. 

I am a great admirer of Cardinal Zen, the Bishop of Hong Kong.  Unlike in the mainland, he is free to operate as a Catholic bishop without any restrictions.  The Catholic Church on the Mainland is seriously persecuted and bishops, priests, nuns, and lay people have been imprisoned.  Cardinal Zen is a critic of the government in Beijing and of the local government as well.  He belongs strongly in the pro-democracy camp and believes that Beijing should grant full democracy to Hong Kong right now.  At present, only about half of the Legislative Council members are elected directly by the people.  The Chief Executive, currently Sir Donald Tsang, GBM, JP, is not elected by the people, but rather by an electoral committee appointed by the Hong Kong SAR government.  Beijing is quite nervous about granting full democracy to Hong Kong, especially if they get someone feisty and independent like Taiwan has had.  They are not comfortable with things they can’t control, as the recent brouhaha involving censoring the internet and foreign journalists found out.  The Chinese government eventually made a major concession granting internet access to a number of sites, but some others are still blocked.  Hong Kong does not have censorship issues like the Mainland does. 

In 2002, the former Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Tung Chee-hwa, sought to introduce the National Security (Legislative Provisions) Bill which would have harmed Hong Kong’s civil liberties considerably.  The protests which were unleashed on Hong Kong were effective and the bill was tabled indefinitely.  The fact that they can protest in Hong Kong is marvelous.  They can’t do it on the Mainland.

The cable car isn’t terribly scary unless you’re afraid of heights.  It was built in 2005 by Leitner Ropeways, an Italian manufacturer of ski lifts, cable cars, and such like in the German speaking area of the Italian Alps.  The area where the Tian Tan Buddha is located is in a pretty rural area.  There are still some areas of Hong Kong, such as Lantau and parts of the New Territories, which aren’t terribly populated.  The scenery was magnificent and I got some good shots of the mountains.

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