Hong Kong Bishop Michael Yeung of the Catholic Church has been hospitalised for liver failure and is in stable condition.

He was taken to Canossa Hospital last week. He was visited by top church officials, including former bishops Joseph Zen and John Tong, as well as three vicars generals.

Michael Yeung
Michael Yeung delivering the 2018 Christmas Greetings. Photo: Catholic Diocese

In a reply to HKFP, a staff member of the Hong Kong Catholic Social Communications Office confirmed Yeung’s situation and said the Diocese will make an announcement later.

Yeung, 73, became head of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong in August 2017, succeeding John Tong.

The response from the Catholic Church came after many believers received a message from an unknown source at around 10:15pm on Wednesday saying that Yeung was in his “last moments.” The message asked believers to pray for Yeung at 10:30pm.

The Diocese sent a reply to media on Thursday morning, which said: “[Yeung], because of cirrhosis of liver leading to liver failure, was admitted to Canossa (Caritas) Hospital on 27 December 2018 for treatment. His condition deteriorated yesterday, but for the time being remains stable.”

“It is the wish of Bishop Michael Yeung that there be no visitors nor flowers,” it added. “The faithful are kindly requested to pray for the Bishop.”

Yeung carried out Christmas eve mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Caine Road in Mid-Levels last month.

Sources close to the Catholic Church told HKFP that Yeung that been suffering from cancer through recent years, and has had to postpone many of the ceremonies he had agreed to perform this month.

When Yeung held his first press conference as Bishop of Hong Kong on August 2, 2017, Catholic newspaper Kung Kao Po was granted the first question and asked about Yeung’s health and if he could handle the heavy workload.

Yeung replied by saying that he has had health issues for a decade but that it had been “basically under control.”

“I can tell you that no-one can tell how long I can stay [as bishop]. Only God knows,” Yeung said at the time.

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

In June last year, Bernardo Cervellera, the director of Vatican news publication AsiaNews, wrote in a report that Yeung had asked Pope Francis to approve his resignation as bishop. Yeung reportedly wanted to dedicate himself to the Catholic welfare agency Caritas. Yeung then denied through the local Catholic paper that he had resigned.

Yeung’s public remarks have often sparked controversies. Yeung was criticised for comparing homosexuality to drug addiction, but he claimed that he was misquoted by the media.

He had said that the forced removal of crosses in China may be down to issues with the safety of buildings.

Yeung had also defended a controversial pastoral letter in which John Tong urged believers to choose candidates in the 2015 District Council elections based on their stances on the values of marriage and the family, and on the proposal to enact a Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng

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.