Hopelessly compromised new Chinese Jesuit Cardinal: advocate of women's ordination and agreements with China

Stephen Chow, Bishop of Hong Kong, will be created a cardinal on 30 September.

Rendering unto Caesar the things that are God's

The Jesuit prelate is another who can be said to have had a meteoric career. In May 2021 he was appointed bishop of the diocese of Hong Kong. Until then he was Provincial of the Chinese Province of the Society of Jesus. Chow will be created a cardinal at the age of 64 and after two years as a bishop.

The bishop's appointment came after nearly a year of deliberation over his candidacy. He was the third candidate to receive Papal approval for the post, but the first to be publicly announced; the previous two candidates withdrew over political issues before the public announcement.

Who is Stephen Chow?

Stephen Chow Sau-yan was born on 7 August 1959 in Hong Kong. After his pre-university studies, he obtained a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Psychology from the University of Minnesota (USA). He entered the Society of Jesus on 27 September 1984.

From 1986 to 1988 he did his novitiate and graduated in philosophy in Ireland, continuing his theological studies from 1988 to 1993 in Hong Kong, where he was ordained a priest on 16 July 1994.

At Loyola University Chicago he obtained a Master's degree in Organisational Development (1993-1995) and at Harvard University in Boston (2000-2006) he obtained a doctorate in Human Development and Psychology (Ed.D.). He pronounced his final vows on 17 April 2007.

He has held the following positions: since 2007, supervisor of two Jesuit schools in Hong Kong and Wah Yan, Kowloon; honorary assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong (2008-2015) and formator of Jesuits (2009-2017). Since 2009, he has been chairman of the Education Commission of the Jesuit Province of China and since 2012 part-time professor of Psychology at Holy Spirit Diocesan Seminary in Hong Kong; from 2012 to 2014 member of the Presbyteral Council of the Diocese of Hong Kong, from 2013 to 2017 provincial consultant and since 2017 member of the Diocesan Education Council. From 1 January 2018 until now he has been Provincial of the Chinese Province of the Society of Jesus and since 2020 deputy secretary of the Hong Kong Association of Religious Superiors of Men's Institutes.

Favourable to the ordination of women

The Bishop of Hong Kong, Stephen Chow, expressed his hope for the Catholic ordination of women in April 2022, joining several European bishops who have expressed similar sentiments in recent years.

During his homily at the Chrism Mass in the Hong Kong diocese on 13 April 2022, Bishop Chow said he had "resorted to English, just to address our ordained brothers, and I hope one day also the ordained sisters".

The Bishop's homily did not focus on this issue, but called priests and deacons to "Synodality through our own ministries in collaboration with the different capacities, or different roles, within the People of God ... discerning the direction in which the Spirit wants us to move as a body".

His closeness to the Chinese regime

In an extensive interview with La Civiltà Cattolica, Bishop Stephen Chow Sau-yan, SJ, Bishop of Hong Kong, noted that about a third of the dioceses in mainland China are "waiting for their respective episcopal appointments", but defended the agreement between China and the Vatican.

The interview, given to the newspaper's editor, Father Spadaro, takes as its starting point Monsignor Chow's recent visit to the Beijing diocese. The latter explains that "although since the establishment of the interim agreement, an official channel has been established between the respective State Departments of the Holy See and China, we consider our trip on 17 April as a bridge, at diocesan level, between Beijing and Hong Kong".

Monsignor Chow points out that the current Interim Agreement between the Holy See and the People's Republic on the appointment of Chinese bishops "is not closed as some seem to have suggested. But the differences of opinion between the two sides on the assignment of bishops to other dioceses may be a factor that should be better understood".

Bishop Chow further noted that "many Catholics revere the Holy Father and appreciate what he is doing for the Church in China. The bishops I met during this trip are well disposed towards him. But those who are against the temporary arrangement seem to be prejudiced against Pope Francis".

Furthermore, the Bishop added: "I would say that a large majority of Catholics in China are loyal to Pope Francis and hope that the temporary agreement will bring favourable changes to their Church, including a meeting between Pope Francis and President Xi".

Earlier this year, Chow met in Beijing with his Archbishop, Joseph Li Shan, who is controlled and monitored by the Communist government.


Cathcon:  Synodality in China becomes an engine for governmental coercion and control.


Popular Posts