Hong Kong diocese has released the Chinese edition of Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, a book for which part-time translators took six years to finish. Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, 79, initiated the translation project after the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace presented the compendium in 2004, five years before he retired as bishop of Hong Kong. He will send complimentary copies to Macau, Taiwan, Singapore Churches and to other overseas Chinese Catholic communities. The Chinese compendium is a good opportunity to declare the Church’s social values, even though the mainland Catholics can hardly comment on human rights problem and social injustice, said Cardinal Zen. “This book guides us to build a better society, which is in chorus with the philosophy of the Chinese people for thousands of years. So it will benefit all Chinese, who account for one-fifth of the world’s population,” said project coordinator Father Stephen Chan Moon-hung, ecclesiastical adviser of Hong Kong’s Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) . He agreed that publishing and circulating the compendium or organizing seminars for it would be difficult in the mainland, unless the government relaxes freedom of speech. But “it’s our responsibility to sow the seed,” he said. Besides dealing with the complicated sentence structure, the translators also had to add explanations of some Church terms which have different meanings in Chinese, so that even non-Christians can understand, he said. At the invitation of Cardinal Zen, Cardinal Peter Turkson, the pontifical council president, visited Hong Kong for the book-launching organized by the JPC on March 20. The Ghanaian prelate introduced the contents of the compendium to more than 200 priests, Religious sisters and laypeople. The compendium is a collection of Catholic social teachings. It is an “ongoing development” and needs updating to include Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical letter Caritas in veritate (2009), future papal speeches and Holy See documents on social issues, said Cardinal Turkson. Christians should not let the compendium stay on the bookshelf, but take it as a guideline to transform society, he noted. An electronic copy will soon be available on the Vatican's website. Other Asian Churches including Japan, Korea, Indonesia and Vietnam have also translated the book into their languages. HK13708.1646
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