ucanews.com reporter, Hong KongUpdated: March 23, 2017 08:59 AM GMT
John Tsang Chun-wah in this March 21 photo. The the front-runner in the election for the post of Chief Executive of Hong Kong, talked about his Catholic faith publicly. (ucanews.com photo)
John Tsang Chun-wah, one of three candidates for Chief Executive of Hong Kong, talked about his Catholic faith publicly for the first time, quoting from Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation.
A week ahead of the vote, Fong King-lok, a Protestant teacher, sent a public letter to Tsang on March 20 asking about his faith. Fong is one of 1,194 people eligible to elect the Chief Executive on March 26.
"I would like to know what are your religious values? How does God make you today?... I also want to know if the real John Tsang loves God. How will you show your faith?" asked Fong according to The Stand News.
On March 21, Tsang sent an open reply to Fong saying his Catholic faith was of deep importance in his life.
"Pope Francis has said politics is one of the highest forms of charity inasmuch as it seeks the common good," Tsang said, quoting from the Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis' first apostolic exhortation published in 2013.
"Today, I run for the election with universal beliefs about how to bring Hong Kong back with 'trust', 'unity' and 'hope,'" he said.
With regards to a feeling of helplessness in Hong Kong, Tsang said that even Pope Francis could not answer the question posed by a girl about why innocent children have to suffer, during his visit to the Philippines in 2015.
"The pope said: 'Only when we too can cry about the things that you said, are we able to come close to replying to that question.' Our only option is to insist on our conviction and do what we think is correct. I believe social justice can return to Hong Kong and create a harmonious and rational society," Tsang said.
Tsang noted that Hong Kong is a pluralistic society and said he was "concerned about religious freedom." All religious faiths lead people to goodness and the government should treat them equally and avoid intervention, he said.
In contrast to Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, another Catholic candidate who claimed she was called by God to run in the election, Tsang has rarely talked about his faith in public.
Father Lawrence Lee Len, the Hong Kong diocesan Chancellor, told ucanews.com earlier that Tsang is a Catholic but does not attend Mass on Sundays.
In his letter Tsang said he was a former altar boy at St. Francis Church in Hong Kong and joined a youth group at the Transfiguration Church in New York when he moved to the United States with his family in 1965.
Several polls show Tsang as the most popular candidate in the election. According to the latest poll conducted by local daily Mingpao in collaboration with Hong Kong University, Tsang currently has 52.8 percent of voter support, Lam has 32.1 percent and Woo Kwok-hing, the third candidate, only has 10.1 percent.