Hong Kong Coadjutor Bishop John Tong Hon has mixed feelings about attending today's Olympic opening ceremony because of the absence of other Catholic leaders including Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kun who was not invited.
Bishop Tong said he had mixed feelings about attending the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing because of the government's continuing mistreatment and mistrust of the Catholic Church, CNS reports.
"The five rings of the Olympic logo are known throughout the world. I wish China would attach the same importance to the five interconnected principles of democracy, human rights, the state of law, justice and peace," said Coadjutor Bishop John Tong Hon of Hong Kong.
Bishop Tong's commentary appeared on the front page of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, yesterday.
Bishop Tong said he was honoured to attend the ceremonial opening.
"I've always appreciated the Olympic Games. This year, I'm proud of the fact that my country is hosting them. For me it is an honour to receive an invitation from the government to participate in the opening ceremony," he said.
But Bishop Tong said he was embarrassed by the fact that the government did not invite other leading churchmen, including Cardinal Zen who has been a frequent and vocal critic of the government.
The Chinese government should have had a "more open mind" and invited all religious leaders to attend, he said.
Bishop Tong cited a long list of Chinese church leaders who were either under arrest, detained or harassed by the government and said they were "suffering for our Catholic faith and for fidelity to our Holy Father".
He noted China's recent costly and socially disruptive efforts to clean up air pollution ahead of the games and said a similar effort should have been made to understand the importance of "greater religious and social freedom."
"The authorities still don't trust Chinese Catholics and feel threatened when we practice our faith," he said.
Bishop Tong ended his article with a prayer for the Olympic Games, asking that "the Holy Spirit may lead all who participate in these games to a happy conclusion."
Hong Kong bishop says he has mixed feelings about attending Olympics (Catholic News Service, 07/08/08)
Beijing Olympics 2008