Most Catholic churches tweak Christmas Eve Mass schedules

December 23, 2019 14:19
A file picture shows the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Hong Kong. Most of the Catholic churches in the city will hold their Christmas Eve Mass hours earlier than usual on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

The majority of Catholic churches in Hong Kong will hold the Christmas Eve Mass hours earlier than usual on Tuesday, a precautionary measure in view of the unstable social situation.

Reverend Dominic Chan Chi-ming of the Hong Kong Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception said on Saturday that the decision was made to ensure the safety of the faithful in view of the recent social movements.

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Caine Road in Central is to hold the annual mass conducted in Cantonese from 8 pm on Tuesday, rather than at midnight as was the practice in the past, while that conducted in English will also be brought forward to 6 pm.

Chan said while most other churches will also hold their Christmas Eve mass early, a few of them will still be held at midnight.

A march had been planned and given a green light by the police to mark the Silent Night, with the route to begin from the Clock Tower in Tsim Sha Tsui and end on Nathan Road.

However, the organizer revealed that as the police have asked it to change the route significantly and only use the pavement, and also start the march earlier than planned -- and given the incident on Sunday when an officer pointed a gun at protesters in clashes after a anti-government rally -- the group has decided to cancel the event in view of public and personal safety.

The group, however, did not rule out the possibility of launching other large events in the future.

In the Catholic Hong Kong Diocese weekly newspaper Kung Kao Po published on Sunday, Cardinal John Tong Hon, acting bishop, noted that the months-long anti-government movement has caused serious social rifts with many citizens having suffered from trauma mentally and emotionally.

As such, Tong urged all sides in society to stop violence, reflect on themselves and seek to solve the current impasse in Hong Kong in a humanitarian fashion as Christmas is coming, so as to rebuild social harmony and heal those who have been hurt both physically and mentally during the social movement.

In his Christmas message delivered on Saturday, Paul Kwong, the archbishop of the Hong Kong Anglican Church, called on the government and the protesters to sit down and start a dialogue with courage, sincerity and humility, and jointly find ways to respond to society so as to break out of the current dilemma.

The government should not limit itself to “rigid thinking” when responding to the society’s voices but should instead take practical measures or actions to address their demands, Kwong said.

"Only through love for Hong Kong, mutual understanding, rational dialogue, walking together, and resolving animosity and hatred through love, can people hope to lead the city out of this difficult situation, and rebuild stability and mutual trust in Hong Kong, so that everyone can live and work in an environment of freedom and stability," the church leader said.

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In his Christmas message, Paul Kwong, the archbishop of the Hong Kong Anglican Church, said the government and the protesters should sit down and start a dialogue with courage, sincerity and humility. Photo: HK Sheng Kung Hui video/YouTube