ucanews.com reporter, Hong KongUpdated: November 14, 2016 11:05 AM GMT
Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Michael Yeung as Coadjutor Bishop of Hong Kong. (ucanews.com photo)
Pope Francis has appointed Auxiliary Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung as Coadjutor Bishop of Hong Kong with automatic rights to succeed Cardinal John Tong Hon.
Some 1,000 Catholics were the first to hear the news at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral during a Mass to conclude local celebrations of the Year of Mercy on Nov. 13.
Addressing the congregation, Bishop Yeung, 71, said he was grateful for having two predecessors who stand "like two big trees offering shelter" while storms currently rock Hong Kong society.
Hong Kong has a charged political atmosphere due to the clash between pro-democracy activists and the local and Beijing governments. The tempest began with the Umbrella Movement in 2014.
The atmosphere has spread into Christian churches. Younger Christians are unhappy with their leaders adopting a reconciliatory attitude towards the Chinese communist regime.
While some Hong Kong Catholics view Bishop Yeung as moderate, there are others who see him as being pro-Beijing or too lenient in matters regarding the Chinese regime.
On the Facebook page of Kung Kao Pao, the diocesan weekly, more than a dozen church members left comments after the announcement saying "Bishop Yeung Ming-cheung does not represent me."
Some expressed "deep disappointment" while others encouraged parishioners to model themselves after the Blessed Mother and be obedient to God's will.
Watch the announcement on the appointment of Auxiliary Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung as Coadjutor Bishop of Hong Kong in this ucanews.com video.
Bishop Yeung avoided controversy in his address and praised the wisdom of Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun as "God's gift" and testifying that "Cardinal John Tong Hon taught me to love Chinese culture, love the Chinese people and love the church."
On his future role in leading the diocese, he told ucanews.com that "I am the assistant of Cardinal Tong. I will follow him as I have been doing."
Knowing Bishop Yeung for some 30 years, Anthony Lam Sui-ki, senior researcher of the diocese's Holy Spirit Study Center, told ucanews.com that "the Holy See knows his age and his health condition. They must have considered these concerns and believed him to be a suitable candidate."
"The new coadjutor is a man of great responsibility and is serious about his principles. He graduated from journalism school so he will know how to use the media in a healthy way to balance out the noise," Lam added.
Yiu Sau-hing, English secretary of the Hong Kong Central Council of Catholic Laity, said Bishop Yeung has a rich administrative and pastoral experience from being the president of Caritas Hong Kong for many years.
"He is not conservative nor radical but a moderate person. I believe he will be a bridge between China, Hong Kong and the Vatican," Yiu told ucanews.com.
Regarding his retirement, Cardinal Tong told ucanews.com that he would wait for further notice from the Holy See.
Hong Kong now has two cardinals, one coadjutor bishop and one auxiliary bishop serving 374,000 Chinese and 189,000 foreign Catholics.
Coadjutor bishop Michael Yeung of Hong Kong (middle) and priests at the concluding Mass of the Year of Mercy at Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Hong Kong on Nov. 13. (ucanews.com photo)