Stop labeling and start understanding
This is not the first time that some Hong Kong Catholics have opposed others for showing compassion and mercy to gay people
People take part in the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender parade in Hong Kong on Nov. 6, 2015. Hong Kong's streets were colored by rainbow flags as protesters marched in the city's annual gay pride parade to call for equality and same-sex marriage. (Photo by AFP)
Pope Francis is trying hard to embrace gay people. It seems, however, that some Hong Kong Catholics have not yet caught up, as demonstrated by their boycott of a new Catholic online magazine on the basis that members of its editorial team have a record of supporting people with same-sex attraction.
In mid-September a group of Catholics in Hong Kong launched Catholiclaity.net. The platform aims to provide an online space for laypeople to discuss matters relating to their faith.
However, three days after the magazine's launch, a text message circulated urging Catholics to boycott the new platform. It is believed that anti-gay Catholics were the source of the original message.
The message named two members of the magazine's editorial team: Francis Yeung, a Catholic bookstore owner, and Joseph Yau, a theology graduate who works in theology course design.
Accusations have focused on Yeung's bookstore, which has served as a venue for gatherings of Compassion, a local LGBT Catholic organisation, and on Yau's remarks on Facebook and discussions he has held on the topic.
Catholiclaity.net posted a statement in response. The statement argued that provision of a venue does not constitute taking a stance on same sex attraction. It also maintained that Yau's remarks complied with church doctrine.
Catholiclaity.net's editors assert that the purpose of their platform is not to take a stance but to establish honest dialogue. "We believe that only true dialogue and mutual understanding can make a new world with love."
This is not the first time that some Catholics in Hong Kong have opposed their brethren for showing compassion and mercy to gay people.
So, is there any room in a Catholic heart to have true dialogue with those with a different perspective?
For Catholics a true dialogue is important. It helps us to open up our hearts and understand more about others. It also helps us to let others come to know more about our faith.
When questioned about a same sex attracted person, Pope Francis famously commented, "Who am I to judge?" He has also reminded the church not to focus exclusively on the issue of same-sex marriage.
"I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time, especially because the teaching of the church on these matters is already clear," the pope said in an interview with 16 Jesuits publications in 2013.
Ironically some of the faithful who uphold family values by maintaining that marriage is between one man and one woman seldom show concern about other issues affecting our families.
Lee Cheuk-yan, a former Christian lawmaker who focuses on labor issues, once said that long working hours are more harmful for the family than same sex marriage. A recent government report shows that, over the past three years, 34 students have committed suicide. Some of their parents did not even know why their children chose this path, since they had to work overtime and had no time to spend with their family.
Reportedly, Hong Kong Diocese plans to take up family and marriage as its theme for next year, following the conclusion of the Jubilee Year of Mercy in November.
If this is true, I am worried that a narrow vision of family issues will mean that the celebrations may just strengthen fixed ideologies rather than promote dialogue with those who may be different.
It is sad that the conflict between the local church and gay people seems unlikely to be solved, and may even intensify if we continue current approaches.
Only a true and sincere dialogue with those with whom we live with on this little planet can bring us peace.
Diana Lok, is a young Catholic in Hong Kong.
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