The newly appointed Hong Kong Catholic Church bishop said he has no reason not to be in touch with Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

Asked about their relationship, Yeung said he knew Lam since she was the director of the Social Welfare Department and from when he headed the Caritas Centre.

“She was good to Caritas, I have no reason not to be in contact with her,” he said. Lam is a Catholic.

Carrie Lam Michael Yeung
Carrie Lam (second from left) and Michael Yeung (left). Photo: GovHK.

Yeung admitted he often spoke to top officials and rich people, but noted: “I will bend my knees for poor and needy in society. I will ask them if they can truly help us, I am willing to do that.”

“Did [Lam] use us? Of course people use each other. When you wash your hand, your left hand is using your right hand,” he said.

Homosexuality controversy

Yeung was criticised for once comparing homosexuality to drug addiction. He claimed that he was often misquoted, but said he would not jump to clarify every time, to had let the issue pass.

Explaining his words, Yeung said: “Maybe if your son is a drug addict, but do you love him still? You still love him, he’s still your son. Maybe you don’t accept this kind of behaviour, but you still love him.”

“I said homosexuality is not like that, but the people already quoted like I compared this with homosexuality… Even the Pope himself, he said we have to respect people’s dignity.”

“Everybody has his or her own dignity. It’s intrinsic, as long as you are human being, you have the dignity. Hitler’s dignity and Saint Teresa of Calcutta’s dignity – they are the same, as long as they are human.”

Michael Yeung
Michael Yeung. Photo: HKFP/Kris Cheng.

Social concerns

Yeung said he was appointed auxiliary bishop on August 30, 2014, just a day before the National People’s Congress issued a restrictive framework on Hong Kong’s chief executive elections.

“I hope this closed gate [for universal suffrage] can be reopened. But is it easy to do so? We need to communicate on all sides,” he said.

But he said he would not tell people how to vote, only that they should consider their conscience.

Yeung said he will care the poor, the weak and elderly in society, and recognises that young people – who face a lot of issues – harbour some anger and disappointment.

“Some issues are not caused by them, but society… we want to urge communication, so that we listen to them – I hope the people in power, the government, will listen to them tentatively.”

Catholic Diocese
Photo: HKFP/Kris Cheng.

‘Only God knows’

Yeung was also asked by the Catholic newspaper Sunday Examiner about his health. He answered that he will be turning 72 at the end of the year and is the oldest successor to the bishop position.

“I can tell you that a 72-year-old person must have some health issues… But my health issue is not recent… In the 2000’s, I conducted body checks sometimes, and doctors told me to take care of this-and-that. When we have issues, doctors cure them. I am always under treatment, but doctors believe it is basically under control,” he said, without clarifying further.

“No one knows how long I can be [bishop], only God knows,” he added.

He said former bishop Francis Hsu had the job for four years, but his successor Peter Lei was only bishop for a few months before his death.

The Catholic Code of Canon Law states that a diocesan bishop should present his resignation to the Pope when he is 75, or if he “has become less able to fulfil his office because of ill-health or some other grave cause.”

Yeung also denied reports that he did not have a good working relationship with other priests: “I know all the priests, I think we get along very well.”

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.