Bishop Michael Yeung dies of liver failure at 73

January 04, 2019 15:27
Bishop Michael Yeung, the head of the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong, died on Thursday night at Canossa Hospital due to liver failure. Photo: RTHK

Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung, the head of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong, died on Thursday. He was 73.

The Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong said in a media notice that Bishop Yeung, who assumed the post in August 2017, passed away at 1:30 p.m. at Canossa Hospital due to liver failure.

A vigil mass will be held at the Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Caine Road, Mid-Levels, on Jan. 10 before a funeral mass scheduled for the next morning, according to another media notice.

His remains will be buried at St. Michael Catholic Cemetery in Happy Valley.

Yeung died before he could name his successor. A similar situation happened in 1974 when the then Bishop Peter Lei Wang-Kei died of a heart attack.

The Hong Kong Catholic Diocese was set to hold a meeting on Friday to discuss the selection of an acting bishop, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

But the actual selection of an acting bishop will be held off so that focus will be on the funeral arrangements, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing said on Friday.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor expressed her deep sorrow over Yeung's passing.

In a statement, the Hong Kong leader said Yeung had devoted all his life to the Catholic community and led the diocese to make significant contributions to Hong Kong in areas such as medical care, education and welfare services.

"I had known Bishop Yeung, who took charge of the welfare services of Caritas Hong Kong, since my tenure as the Director of Social Welfare. I was greatly inspired by his benevolence and concern for people from all walks of life, especially the young people and the disadvantaged,” said Lam, who is also a Catholic.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Dr. Law Chi-kwong, Secretary for Food and Health Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee, Education Secretary Kevin Yeung Yun-hung and Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah also issued separate statements to eulogize Yeung.

Born in Shanghai in 1945 before moving to Hong Kong at the age of four, Yeung, who had two master’s degrees in communication and education, was ordained a priest in 1978.

When he took over as the leader of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong from Cardinal John Tong Hon in August 2017, Yeung admitted that he was receiving medical treatment for a health issue, but since his doctor believed his condition was under control, he moved on to his new role.

There were media reports in June last year that Yeung mentioned to the Pope during an ad limina visit that he wished to devote more time to the Catholic welfare agency Caritas after his resignation, but he also said he would hold his position until he turned 75.

Yeung was last seen publicly at last month's Christmas Eve Mass. It is understood that he was admitted to Canossa Hospital after he hosted the event, and his condition subsequently worsened.

On politics, Yeung had said Hong Kong independence would be “absolutely impossible” and “unfeasible”.

In late 2016 after Beijing's interpretation of the Basic Law over the Legco oath-taking saga, Yeung said the move was regrettable, doubting that it was necessary to exercise that power, although Beijing has constitutional rights, RTHK reported.

He also stressed that he was of Chinese blood and would never deny that he was Chinese, according to the report.

– Contact us at [email protected]


Bishop Michael Yeung meets media representatives for the first time since he became the head of the Catholic Church in August 2017. Photo: HKEJ