Retired archbishop warns about 'wayward' Taiwan Lourdes Association

Emeritus archbishop of Taipei urges foreign church institutions to stop funding group
Retired archbishop warns about 'wayward' Taiwan Lourdes Association

Archbishop Joseph Ti-kang of Taipei has called on Taiwan Lourdes Association to remove the word 'Lourdes' from its name because of its religious significance. (Photo supplied)

ucanews.com reporter, Taipei
Taiwan
January 24, 2019
A retired Taiwanese archbishop has written a letter in English calling on foreign church institutions to stop providing funds to the Taiwan Lourdes Association.

Emeritus Archbishop Joseph Ti-kang of Taipei, 90, sent a similar letter in Chinese last May in which he accused the association of straying from its mission of caring for people living with HIV/AIDS and of encouraging sexual promiscuity and drug abuse. But no organizations or individuals responded.

A source told ucanews.com that the purpose of the English letter is to hope that more foreign church institutions and members will learn that the association "is doing something bad."

It also aims to put pressure on the association to change its name by removing the word "Lourdes" so that it is no longer seen as doing "unjust things in the name of the Catholic Church."

In the English letter, Archbishop Ti-kang again denounced the association, saying that "on the surface, it conveys the love of God, but in its actual activities it departs from the original intent for which it was founded and violates church teachings."

The letter explained that at the end of 2017, due to the presentation of research on the relationship of the association with the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) movement, the archbishop realized its leading role and activities in the movement.

"I was extremely disappointed and felt very hurt," the archbishop wrote.

The source said the archbishop had previously supported Lourdes Association because he was "uninformed" about the injustices it had done, but now that he knows, he "repents for his previous support."

The archbishop also accused the group's former subsidiary Taiwan GDi Association in the letter of encouraging sexual promiscuity, advocating gay culture and supporting the gay movement.

He stressed that Lourdes Association is no longer a Catholic institution but has been receiving social recognition and resources as a Catholic institution.

He urged church members "to withdraw immediately from the supervisory committee of Lourdes Association and other services, and not to participate in any activities of the association and Taiwan GDi Association."

Archbishop Ti-kang asked the association to stop using "Lourdes" in its title as it is a name of great significance to the church.

The source agreed that the existence of priests and nuns in Lourdes Association could be seen as endorsing it.

Lourdes Association published a statement last May to deny the archbishop's allegations. It said its online radio provided professional opinions on HIV/AIDS and drug addiction and there was "absolutely no evidence of encouraging illegal activity or drug use."

But a church group named Taiwan Catholic Family Guardian Mission spent a long time collecting information and completed a report of more than 10,000 words last September.

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The report claimed that Lourdes Association participated in a gay parade for many years; shared explicit program previews on Facebook; recommended books on high-risk sexual behavior and sexual abuse; and recommended a variety of drugs and indecent websites.

Lourdes Association, formerly known as Lourdes Home, was established by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul in the 1960s with a mission of caring for orphans and disadvantaged children. In 1997, it switched to work for people living with HIV/AIDS, and Taipei Archdiocese provided accommodation for people who had the virus.

According to the association's website, the Daughters of Charity left the association with lay people in 2007, while Taipei Archdiocese also took back its premises.

Nuns of the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit continue to assist the association, while many religious and church groups also support its services.

Lourdes Association helps people with HIV/AIDS, drug addicts and their families, providing them with a link to basic living needs. It also provides HIV/AIDS information and counseling services, support networks, rights advocacy and referral services. It also works on the mainland to provide training courses.

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