The Christian community — largely Protestant and Roman Catholic
— is estimated to number close to 540 000. The Protestant and Roman Catholic
churches maintain a spirit of fellowship, with the Hong Kong Christian
Council and the Roman Catholic Diocese joining together on special occasions.
In recent years, the Orthodox Church has established a Metropolitanate
of Hong Kong and South East Asia, which is based in Hong Kong.
The presence of the Protestant community dates from 1841. About 300 000
Protestant Christians live in Hong Kong. The Protestant Church is made
up of over 1 300 congregations in more than 50 denominations
with many independent churches. The Baptists form the largest denomination,
followed by the Lutherans. Other major denominations are Adventist, Anglican,
Christian and Missionary Alliance, Church of Christ in China (representing
the Presbyterian and Congregational traditions), Methodist, Pentecostal
and Salvation Army. With their emphasis on youth work, many congregations
have a high proportion of young people.
Protestant organisations operate three post-secondary
institutions: Chung Chi College at the Chinese University of Hong Kong,
Hong Kong Baptist University and Lingnan University. They are also active
in secondary, primary and pre-primary education, in 2003 operating 158
secondary schools, 206 primary schools, 273 kindergartens and 116 nurseries.
There were 16 theological seminaries and Bible institutes, 16 Christian
publishing houses and 69 Christian bookshops.
In health and welfare, Protestant organisations run
seven hospitals with about 3 750 beds, and 18 clinics. There are also
some 59 social service organisations. These social service organisations
provided a wide range of services in 2003, including 227 community, family
service and youth centres, 74 day care centres, 17 children's homes, 35
homes for the elderly, 106 centres for the elderly, two schools for the
deaf and one for the blind, and 47 training centres for the mentally handicapped
and disabled. There were also 15 camp sites. In addition, five international
hotel-type guest houses are managed by the YMCA and the YWCA.
More than 70 para-church agencies and various Christian
action groups minister to the Protestant community and respond to current
issues and concerns within Hong Kong society at large. The church supports
emergency relief and aid projects in developing countries. Two weekly
newspapers, The Christian Weekly and The Christian Times,
present news and comments from a Christian perspective.
Two ecumenical bodies facilitate cooperative work
among the Protestant churches in Hong Kong. The older one, dating from
1915, is the Hong Kong Chinese Christian Churches Union with a membership
of 275 congregations. The second cooperative body is the Hong Kong Christian
Council, formed in 1954. Major mainline denominations and ecumenical services
constitute the membership core of the council, which is committed to building
closer relationships among all churches in Hong Kong as well as with churches
in the Mainland and overseas. The council also encourages local Christians
to play an active part in the development of Hong Kong society. It seeks
to serve the wider community through its auxiliary agencies such as the
Hong Kong Christian Service, Christian Industrial Committee, United Christian
Hospital, Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital and Alice Ho Min Yee
Nethersole Hospital and the Christian Family Service Centre. The council
runs weekly 'Alternative Tours', which give visitors and residents an
opportunity to see how the church serves the community.
The Roman Catholic Church in Hong Kong was established as a Mission Prefecture
in 1841 and as an Apostolic Vicariate in 1874. It became a diocese in
The present Bishop, Joseph Ze-kiun Zen, was installed
in 2002, becoming the fourth Chinese bishop of the diocese. Bishop Zen
is assisted by two Vicars General, John Hon Tong, who is also Auxiliary
Bishop, and Father Dominic Chan.
Bishop Zen became head of the diocese upon the death
of Cardinal John Baptist Cheng-chung Wu who had served since 1975. The
first Chinese bishop was Francis Chen-ping Hsu, who was installed in 1969
and succeeded in 1973 by Peter Wang-kei Lei.
About 239 400 people are Catholics. They were served
in 2003 by 309 priests, 60 brothers and 519 sisters. There are 52 parishes,
comprising 40 churches, 31 chapels and 28 halls for religious service.
Services are conducted in Chinese with three-fifths of the parishes also
providing services in English, and in Tagalog in some cases.
The diocese has established its own administrative
structure while maintaining close links with the Pope and other Catholic
communities around the world. It has the same creed, scripture, liturgy
and organisation as the other Catholic communities world-wide. The assistant
secretary-general of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference has his
office in Hong Kong.
Along with its apostolic work, one of the prime concerns
of the diocese has been the well-being of the community as a whole. In
education, there are 320 Catholic schools and kindergartens which have
about 286 000 pupils. There is the Catholic Board of Education to assist
in this area. The medical and social services include six hospitals, 15
clinics, 13 social centres, 15 hostels, 12 homes for the aged, 15 rehabilitation
service centres and many self-help clubs and associations. Caritas is
the official social welfare arm of the church in Hong Kong.
These services are open to all people. Indeed, 95
per cent of those who have benefited from the wide range of services provided
by the diocese are not Catholics.
To reach people through the media, the diocese publishes
two weekly newspapers, Kung Kao Po and The Sunday Examiner.
In addition, the Diocesan Audio-Visual Centre produces tapes and films
for use in schools and parishes and, overall, the Hong Kong Catholic Social
Communications Office acts as an information and public relations channel
for the diocese.