A Hong Kong priest cancelled a midnight mass for a Christian LGBT group during Christmas after the local diocese told him that homosexuality was “sinful”.

Compassion HK LGBTQ Catholics Union said it was informed by the priest – at the last minute – that he could not conduct the ceremony for around 30 attendees, after receiving a telephone call from Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha.

The replacement Christmas ceremony. Photo: Compassion: HK LGBTQ Catholics Union via Facebook.

The group alleged that the Hong Kong diocese’s Bishop Michael Yeung found out about the plans and asked Ha to order the priest to cancel the mass. “Otherwise this would be seen as going against the bishop and the diocese’s orders,” wrote the group on Facebook on Monday.

A spokesperson from the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong denied that Yeung ordered the mass be cancelled. She told HKFP that Yeung asked Ha to look into the plans.

“Bishop Ha communicated with the relevant persons, and pointed out that the Catholic Church considers homosexual acts as serious violations of chastity,” said the spokesperson.

“If the relevant persons wish to receive the Holy Communion during mass, they must be sufficiently prepared, for example: They must have committed no serious sins (or must first conduct the rite of confession), must faithfully repent for any minor sins, and must fast for the previous hour before receiving the Holy Communion.”

Bishop Michael Yeung. Photo: HKFP/Kris Cheng.

Compassion wrote on Facebook that the ceremony’s attendees were full of questions. “The diocese will send priests to prisons to hold Mass for murderers, rapists and other criminals, and priests go to ‘red light districts’ to hold Mass for sex workers.”

“Why do bishops only target homosexuals? Are homosexuals not fit to join in the annual celebrations on this peaceful and holy night of Jesus Christ’s birth?”

The group added that it did not conduct a traditional mass in order to avoid bringing trouble to the priest, but held a ceremony of gratitude and presented a “birthday cake for baby Jesus.”

“Among over 30 attendees, over half of us felt so moved we shed tears of love.”

Last year Pope Francis said that Christians and the Catholic Church ought seek forgiveness from the gay community over the way in which they had treated them. “[Gay people] should not be discriminated against. They should be respected, accompanied pastorally,” he told reporters last June.

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.