Hong Kong Catholics, Lutherans endorse ecumenical study

Both churches unite to translate 'From Conflict to Communion'
Hong Kong Catholics, Lutherans endorse ecumenical study

Cardinal John Tong of Hong Kong Catholic Diocese (left) and Bishop Cheung Chun-wa of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hong Kong signed an agreement to endorse an ecumenical translation of "From Conflict to Communion." (Photo supplied)

ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
Hong Kong
July 20, 2017
The Catholic diocese and Lutheran Church in Hong Kong have endorsed a common Chinese translation of the From Conflict to Communion, an ecumenical document marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

The endorsement signing ceremony along with a prayer gathering at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral was presided over by Cardinal John Tong and Coadjutor Bishop Michael Yeung of the Catholic diocese and Bishop Cheung Chun-wa and Vice Bishop Fang Sing-tin of the Evangelical Lutheran Church on July 14.

The two-hour ceremony was attended by several hundred participants, not only from both churches but representatives from other Protestant denominations. Besides prayers and hymns, they also recited the Apostle's Creed in their respective edition. From Conflict to Communion is a study of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity published in 2013 to look at the Reformation and reflect on 50 years of official worldwide ecumenical dialogue.

This was the second translation project between the two local Chinese churches following the ecumenical declaration on the Doctrine of Justification completed in 2014.


A pamphlet of the July 14 signing ceremony (left) and a Chinese ecumenical translation of "From Conflict to Communion" (right), a study by the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity for common commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this year. (Photo supplied)


A joint working team began the translation of the From Conflict to Communion in 2016 until it was published in early July. The common translation offers two Chinese editions in one book — one for the Lutheran Church and one for the Catholic Church — maintaining their respective jargon on church doctrines and biblical names.

Theresa Kung, external secretary of the Diocesan Ecumenical Commission, said that three out of seven members of the working team have been involved in the vetting of the Chinese translation of the justification document.

"Since both sides have already established consensus and communion, the work moved forward smoothly," said Kung. "We were frank and open in discussing differences in certain parts of the book to reach a consensus," she said.

One such major difference is the translation of the word "God" in Chinese, for which the Catholic Church uses "Tian Zhu" while the Protestant Church uses "Shang Di."

Except direct quotes from the Bible, the working team reached a consensus to use "Shang Zhu" for God as the term is also used in the Catholic's Old Testament, said Kung.

Working in a principle of "seeing common ground while reserving differences," the team did not try to unify names of biblical figures or theological jargon used by each church, according to the Protestant team members writing in the epilogue.

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