HONG KONG (CNS) — Pope Francis, in a video message recorded on their bishop’s cellphone, encouraged Catholics in Hong Kong and mainland China to be strong in the face of challenges, to be good citizens and to pray for him as he prays for them.
Bishop Stephen Chow Sau-yan of Hong Kong, a Jesuit who was ordained a bishop on December 4, met privately with Pope Francis at the Vatican on March 17 and posted the videos on the Catholic Way website of the Diocese of Hong. Kong on March 23 and on the website. from the Sunday Examiner, with English subtitles.
“Dear brothers and sisters, you Catholics, I greet you with gratitude and love,” read the English subtitles of the pope’s message in Italian to Catholics on the continent. “Thank you for your testimony of faith.”
In both videos, Pope Francis thanked Catholics for how they have endured and continue to endure the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Sometimes the Lord is hidden from our eyes,” he said, “but he is always by our side.”
In his similar message to Catholics in Hong Kong, also subtitled in English, the pope told them, “I wish you all the best. I wish you to be good citizens; May you be brave in the face of the challenges of time!
Bishop Chow told the Jesuit-run American magazine that meeting the pope: “It was like meeting another Jesuit brother.”
“He asked me at the beginning of our meeting, ‘What is the hardest thing that can happen to a Jesuit?’ “, he said. “It’s to become a bishop!” And he said, “I know it.”
Bishop Chow told America that Pope Francis knew the bishop would face challenges and difficulties as head of the Hong Kong diocese, but he should not be afraid.
Then, he said, “I asked him if he would be willing to send his regards and some encouragement to Catholics in the mainland and Hong Kong under the stress of COVID.”
“The Holy Father agreed immediately and I used my iPhone to make both videos,” Bishop Chow told the magazine.