12/24/2004, 00.00
HONG KONG - CHINA
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Christmas fosters hope burdened by politicians' 'decadence', says Bishop Zen

Bishop calls on parents to spend more time with children. "Being with them," he says, "is the most precious gift you can offer."

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – In his Christmas message released today, Mgr Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, Bishop of Hong Kong, called on the whole of society "to take a step" towards Christ and convert.

According to the Bishop, in a Territory whose economy has been hard hit, that faces serious social problems among the youth and difficult relations with central and local governments opposed to full democracy, the coming of Jesus is proof that the love of God is faithful and a reason for not despairing.

In his message, he reminds us that in this Christmas the Eucharist—to which John Paul II has dedicated a special year—is at the heart of the event for it highlights the closeness of God amongst us. This closeness invites us to "act as the good Samaritan" towards one another taking care of each other's problems.

Addressing the clergy, Bishop Zen said their "time and energy no longer belong to them", that they should "be ready to sacrifice their lives to defend their flock". He himself is known for his involvement in the defence of human rights, religious freedom, and democracy, and for his devotion to the people of Hong Kong.

Speaking directly to parents, the Bishop said they should be more present in the lives of their children. Figures show that Hong Kong parents spend the least amount of time with their offspring. But "being with them," he said, "is the most precious gift you can offer."

To political leaders whose credibility with the population has been severely tested by allegations of corruption and collusion with Beijing, he said: "You must be the servants of the people. [. . .] You must be in constant contact with [. . .] the grassroots and respect them."

In the Bishop's opinion, Hong Kong's problems stem from the fact that the search for "short-sighted economic profit has become the only guide in policy-making. [. . .] The gap between the rich and the poor has widened dangerously. It is a shame and a sign of decadence in our civilisation!"

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