By Devin Watkins
The leaders of 6 religions in Hong Kong are in Rome this week to mark the 40th anniversary of an organization dedicated to improving interreligious ties.
Pope Francis met the “Colloquium of Six Religious Leaders of Hong Kong” briefly on the sidelines of his Wednesday General Audience. He told them: “Upon all of you I invoke joy and peace in the Lord Jesus Christ. May God bless you!”
Vatican Radio caught up with members of the Colloquium on Thursday during their visit to the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Anglican Reverend Peter Koon represents Hong Kong’s Protestant Christian community. He believes the trip will help improve the “harmonious relationship” among the city’s religions.
“This is the first time our six religions in Hong Kong have the opportunity to come to visit the Holy See, and this is indeed a very special trip.”
These 6 religions are Christianity, Catholicism, Islam, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism.
Facing Hong Kong issues
Cardinal John Tong Hon, the Apostolic Administrator of Hong Kong, is accompanying the delegation on their visit to the Eternal City.
“During these 40 years, we have had an official gathering twice a year,” the Cardinal said. “We also have many gatherings [to discuss] particular issues” that affect the 7.4 million people living in Hong Kong.
Kay-wai Ha, who goes by his Muslim name, Ali, said the Colloquium seeks to “spread the news of peace and harmony in Hong Kong, on a religious basis.”
The group also seeks to promote peace in the city. But, as Mr. Ha pointed out, “Anything that is not agreeable with any religion, we don’t go ahead.”
Sik Kuan-yun, President of the Hong Kong Buddhist Association, delved deeper into the role harmony plays in interreligious dialogue.
“As human beings, we have to rely on one another in order to survive and be well, and we have to accommodate one another so that we can thrive,” he said. “If we are in harmony in our thoughts, we won’t fight one another.”
Mr. Sik offered a helpful illustration: “We don’t have to be weavers to have clothes to wear. We don’t have to be farmers to have food to eat.”
Commonalities among differences
Confucianism, said Dr. Tong Yun-kai, brings a unique and helpful doctrine to interreligious dialogue.
“Respect differences, and seek commonalities,” he said, is the goal of the 40-year-old Colloquium. In this regard, Dr. Tong believes the group has been successful.