Vatican announces appointment of Fr. John Chow as new bishop of Hong Kong Catholic Diocese

The Holy See announced on Monday, May 17, the appointment of the current Jesuit Superior General of the Chinese Province, Fr. John Chow, a priest of the Diocese of Hong Kong, as the new bishop of the Diocese of Hong Kong.

Father Chow, 62, is a member of the same Jesuit order as the current Catholic pope, Pope Francis. After graduating from Wah Yan College in Hong Kong and attending the University of Minnesota, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology/philosophy and a master’s degree in educational psychology, he joined the Jesuits in 1984 and received his doctorate in education from Harvard University in 2006, according to a press release issued by the Vatican about the bishop’s appointment. He has been the Superior General of the Jesuit Province of China since 2018, handling the affairs of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau and China, and also serves as the Superintendent of Wah Yan College in Hong Kong.

The bishop’s post has been vacant for more than two years since the death of Bishop Yeung Ming-cheung, the last bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong, in January 2019. The Vatican Apostolic See appointed Cardinal John Tong, a former diocesan bishop, as Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Hong Kong following the death of Yang Mingzhang.

After the death of Yang Mingzhang, there were two popular candidates to succeed him in the Diocese of Hong Kong, namely, Bishop Joseph Hartmann, the current auxiliary bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong, and Father Michael Choi, the diocesan priest. Xia Zhicheng was rumored to have been reluctant to be appointed by the Vatican after he visited demonstrators during the 2019 demonstrations against the fugitive ordinance. Cardinal Joseph ZEN, Bishop Emeritus, has repeatedly spoken out against his appointment as bishop in articles and interviews.

John Chow has taken a number of positions on political issues in recent years. During the incident of opposing the Fugitive Offenders Amendment Ordinance in 2019, he wrote an article in social media, saying that the younger generation was moved to express their demands to the government with their actions for the future of Hong Kong. Last year, after the Hong Kong SAR National Security Law came into effect, Chow Shou Yan sent a letter as the supervisor of Wah Yan College, saying that the school is not a political organization, nor a platform for political mobilization, reminding the students of Wah Yan College that they must pay attention to the legal consequences of their actions in the face of social and political strife. Zhou Shouren said in an interview with Hong Kong Ming Pao Weekly last year that he had participated in the 1989 pro-democracy movement and found that he had the identity of “Hong Kong people” and “Chinese people” deep inside his heart. He also said, “Hong Kong independence” is a violation of the law, students should know the legal consequences, but also need to understand why some people think that Hong Kong needs to be independent. Zhou Shouren believes that when students encounter problems, teachers can guide them to think through discussions and find their own answers.