Chinese Unite Pauline Jubilee and Year of Family


HONG KONG, JULY 1, 2008 ( Cardinal Joseph Zen is proposing the letters of St. Paul to shed light on the challenges faced by families in Chinese society.

The bishop of Hong Kong, in a pastoral letter for the newly inaugurated Pauline Jubilee Year, emphasized St. Paul's teachings on the theology of the body and the family.

Hong Kong is celebrating the Year of the Family in conjunction with the Pauline year.

As "premarital sex, cohabitation and trial marriages have become more socially acceptable," the cardinal wrote, "the traditional concepts about love and sex have become more vague."

Cardinal Zen lamented that local Catholics encounter a variety of marriage and family problems common in Hong Kong.

He hinted that the situation of Catholics today was already described by Paul in the Letter to the Romans: "For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?"

In view of this, Cardinal Zen said in his pastoral letter, released Sunday, that the letters of Paul are among the treasures the Church avails of to tackle this problem.

He recalled what St. Paul said: "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If any one destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and that temple you are."

The Hong Kong Diocese had designated 2007-2008 as the "Year of the Family" -- with 2008 focused on the virtue of chastity -- before Benedict XVI announced the Pauline Jubilee.

Cardinal Zen noted that "the diocese launched the 'Year of the Family' because the vision of Hong Kong society regarding the family and marriage is often in opposition to the plan of God."

The prelate affirmed, however, that the Pauline year and the Year of the Family are good complements.

The "pastoral objective of the diocese is to give us a general orientation for our activities, and the teachings of St. Paul can precisely help us to better specify the objective and give us impetus to achieve it," he said.

The Hong Kong Diocese celebrated a solemn mass at the cathedral for the opening of the Year of St. Paul, though Cardinal Zen was absent, attending the inauguration led by the Pope at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.