Updated: June 28, 2018 08:23 AM GMT
Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung of Hong Kong poses for photographers at a press conference on Aug. 2, 2017. (Photo by Isaac Lawrence/AFP)
Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung of Hong Kong has denied media reports that he asked Pope Francis to approve him resigning from his Episcopal office to dedicate himself to the Catholic welfare agency Caritas.
Bishop Yeung, 73, was one of three bishops from Hong Kong and Macau who this month visited the Vatican to provide an update on their dioceses.
On June 23, the Roman Catholic Pontifical Institute for Foreign Affairs news agency AsiaNews, which had interviewed Bishop Yeung, reported him as saying that he mentioned to the pope he wished to resign as a bishop to better serve Caritas.
The report was written by Bernardo Cervellera, director of AsiaNews.
But when Hong Kong media picked up on the story, Bishop Yeung told the Kung Kao Po Chinese language newspaper, which is owned and operated by the Hong Kong Diocese, that he had been misreported.
This resulted in the Kung Kao Po reporting on June 27 that Bishop Yeung clarified "that he did not broach this topic with the pope."
A subsequent report on the same day elaborated that AsiaNews in Rome had asked about two Bishops Emeritus — Cardinal Joseph Zen and Cardinal John Tong Hon — who retired as bishops of Hong Kong but continued to serve the Catholic Church.
Bishop Yeung's reply that if possible he would like to in future move full-time to Caritas had resulted in the 'misunderstanding.'
Kung Kao Po quoted Bishop Yeung saying that Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-Shing of Hong Kong and Bishop Stephen Lee Bun-sang of Macau could confirm what he had said during the meeting with the pope. But as of yet the two bishops have yet to confirm anything.
As for future plans, Bishop Yeung said would write a customarily letter to the pope when he reached the age of 75 to request his resignation and then wait for the pope to respond.
Bishop Yeung is president of the Council of Hong Kong Caritas and has been assisting it since 2003.
During some past controversies, Bishop Yeung, who has at times aligned himself with Chinese authorities on regulations covering the practice of religion, also maintained that he had been misquoted by various media outlets.
For example, there was an outcry when he was reported as using drug abuse as a metaphor for homosexuality. Bishop Yeung responded that he had only been trying to make the point that parents still loved their children even if they did not agree with them taking drugs.
He took over from Cardinal Tong as Bishop of Hong Kong less than a year ago.