HK Catholic leader Michael Yeung Ming-Cheung, 73, ‘in a stable condition’ in hospital following social media reports of imminent death

04-Jan-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong’s Catholic Church leader Reverend Michael Yeung Ming-cheung died on Thursday afternoon. He was 73.

The city’s Catholic diocese released a statement confirming that Yeung died from liver failure at 1.30pm in hospital. It added that funeral arrangements would be announced later. Yeung’s successor remains unknown.

Before news of his death emerged, the diocese said in the morning that Yeung was in a “stable” condition at Canossa Hospital on Old Peak Road, and had suffered from liver failure caused by cirrhosis.

Yeung was appointed to his post by Pope Francis in August 2017 to succeed retiring Cardinal John Tong Hon.

On Wednesday night, social media messages that were purportedly from church members had urged prayers for Yeung, and senior church figures rushed to the hospital’s intensive care unit.

The group included Yeung’s two predecessors, bishop emeritus Cardinal John Tong Hon and Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, as well as vicar generals Reverend Dominic Chan Chi-ming and Reverend Peter Choy Wai-man, and chancellor Lawrence Lee Len.

Zen did not respond to media inquiries when he left the hospital at about midnight.

Yeung celebrated Christmas Eve mass last week at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Caine Road in Mid-Levels.

He also spoke via a pre-recorded Christmas greeting broadcast on December 19.

Born in Shanghai in 1945, Yeung was named an auxiliary bishop of Hong Kong in 2014. He was ordained as a Hong Kong priest in 1978.

According to media reports, Yeung had fallen to the ground twice last month, injuring his face.

In August 2017, Yeung said he had faced some health problems for years, but did not elaborate. He said he had regular health checks and the issues were under control.

In June, he denied he had asked Pope Francis to approve a request for permission to step down from his Episcopal office to dedicate himself to the Catholic welfare agency Caritas, dismissing media reports on the matter as false.

At the time of his appointment as head of the city’s Catholic diocese, Yeung was known for making controversial remarks, comparing homosexuality to drug addiction, for instance.

Just before the pro-democracy Occupy protests of 2014, Yeung said the church would neither encourage nor stop Catholics from joining the protests, but would offer help to anyone arrested.

After the Mong Kok riot in February of 2016, Yeung said in an interview that, rather than condemning anyone, “we are calling for calmness and a clear vision… on the causes of the clash”.

In 2010, Tong used his Christmas message to appeal for the release of jailed mainland rights activists Liu Xiaobo and Zhao Lianhai.


Category: Hong Kong

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