HONG KONG(UCAN) -- Leaders of the Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox Churches, meeting for the first time at the installation of the first Greek Orthodox metropolitan here, have expressed hope for Christian unity.
The establishment of the Hong Kong and South East Asia metropolitanate of the Greek Orthodox Church and the enthronement of metropolitan Nikitas Lulias here on Jan. 12 reflects the growing Orthodox Church community in Hong Kong.
Cardinal John Baptist Wu Cheng-chung and Auxiliary Bishop John Tong Hon of the Catholic diocese, and Anglican Bishop Peter Kwong Kwong-kit of the Hong Kong and Macau diocese participated at Mass and blessed the new metropolitan.
"Leaders of the three Christian Churches are here for the Mass, which creates a sense of unity in the Hong Kong Christian Community," said Orthodox Father George Klapax, who is temporarily residing in the territory.
He told UCA News that they had earlier had meetings with the Catholic Church, but no concrete plan for Christian unity was formulated.
Father Stephen Tam Kwan, chairperson of the Catholic Diocesan Ecumenical Commission, told UCA News Jan. 7 that the Unity Campaign over the past 20 years was mainly for the Catholic and Protestant Churches. The Greek Orthodox Church will be a new member, he said.
Around 100 Greek Orthodox Church members of the Hong Kong community, mostly expatriates here, attended the installation Mass, at which four Orthodox priests from Hong Kong, India, Indonesia and the Philippines assisted.
The metropolitanate comprises Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore. Along with Korea and Japan, those countries and the region were originally placed under the jurisdiction of the New Zealand metropolitanate.
Ecumenical Patriarch Batholomeos I of Constantinople ordained the new metropolitan in Istanbul on Dec. 14.
He had been chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Chicago, the United States, and pastor of the St. Demetrios Orthodox Church of Chicago.
The Orthodox Church separated from the Catholic Church at the beginning of the 11th century. From then on, the Orthodox Church flourished in the Greek-speaking eastern part of the Roman Empire whereas the Catholic Church grew in the Latin-speaking western part.
The patriarch of Constantinople is considered the "first among equals" in the Orthodox hierarchy, who consider his office a symbol of Church unity.