Lenten Pastoral Letter 2005

Love life, the gift of God!

Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

If the title my Lenten Pastoral Letter, sounds familiar to you, it is exactly how our late John Baptist Cardinal Wu Cheng-chung summarized the overall vision of our Diocesan Synod’s deliberations.

The challenge of Life At the beginning of this year, in his address to the diplomatic representatives to the Holy See, the Holy Father pointed out the four challenges by humanity faced by today, the first of which is the challenge of life.

Life is the first gift of God to a human being, the most fundamental treasure. The Church preaches the Gospel of life and reminds the states that their main duty is to protect this fundamental human right to existence, which unfortunately is facing a more and more serious challenge.

Human life at its initial stage is particularly vulnerable and needs the special protection of state authority. Unfortunately a culture of death is infiltrating the values of today’s society. Abortion is increasingly seems as a way to “solve problems”.

Easy ways to undergo abortion, used on mainland China, have crossed the border and can even spare people from seeking medical assistance in hospitals.

The life of each human person is very precious in the eyes of God, but so many have been deprived of the right to be born. This is a usurpation of the sacred power of God over human life, a terrible crime!


Challenge facing Marriage and Family Challenge of life is surely very much connected with problems concerning family, which today is constantly threatened by various agents in society and in culture.

God’s plan is that a new, tender life be born and be raised up in the warmth of a family. But more and more attempts are made to overthrow the concept of family as the stable and exclusive union of a man and a woman.

Recently the Broadcasting Authority declared that the clause “the respect for the sanctity of the marriage and the importance of the family” be dropped from the codes of conduct for television and radio which are still in force. The reason, they explain, is to allow for more flexibility in discussing different visions of values and cultures.

Is the sacredness of marriage and the importance of the family no longer a part of the common value frame of Hong Kong’s people? With the clause cancelled what will remain of the provision that “the licensee (must) treat the portrayal of family…with sensitivity and not in an exploitative or irresponsible manner”?


Don’t we see that many human tragedies are created by the distortion of concepts regarding marriage and family? Doesn’t a realistic assessment of facts sufficiently prove that an unlimited freedom in this regard can only bring destruction and harm?

Dear faithful, our understanding of “respect life, the gift of God” is very much antithetic with the hierarchy of values of the world, our vision is against the present currents in society. May the Lord who has defeated the temptation of the devil give us courage to declare war on the culture of death and to proclaim the Gospel of life.

To loose one’s life in order to keep it Of course, except for the infants, the gift of life received becomes a responsibility.

Life is capital which we must invest wisely. The secret of a good investment is to make a gift of it, to offer it in sacrifice. The Lord says, “whoever wants to keep his life must be ready to give it up”.

If we spend our life in pursuing selfish pleasures, or we are reluctant to sacrifice our life because of our attachments to interests and desire of worldly success, then we just become walking corpses.

The Lenten Season is a time for fasting, mortification and concern for others.

We must willingly give up our life and restrain all the unworthy desires that are actually anti-life. Only in this way can we strengthen the real force of life. We are facing a challenge, it is a war and no compromise is possible.

In the campaign to help the people affected by the recent Tsunami tragedy we have shown great generosity. Our Diocesan Lenten Campaign gives us another opportunity to exercise our generosity. With the money collected, we can still help the victims of the tragedy, we may also help many other people in need, especially the elderly in facing difficulties, for whom the Holy Father has a special thought in this year’s Lenten message.

Dear faithful, our effort to respect life, to defend family values and to care for our neighbour will make this Lenten season a meaningful one.

Your Bishop

+ Joseph ZEN, SDB
6 February 2005