HONG KONG: Religious leaders say they should inspire hope during financial crisis

December 18, 2008

Religions have a role to inspire people with hope and to help them to overcome the present global financial crisis, leaders of different faiths in Hong Kong have emphasized at an inter-religious event.

"In view of the present global financial crisis, religions can help people to overcome the changes in life, to inspire people with hope, and to give them courage to go forward," Roman Catholic Coadjutor Bishop John Tong Hon, the rotating president of a group called the Colloquium of Six Religious Leaders, told some 100 religious representatives.

Hon was speaking on December 14 at a celebration to mark the 30th anniversary of the discussion group, which took place at a park in a new town Tin Siu Wai, which has many new immigrants from mainland China.

Anglican Bishop Thomas Soo, chairperson of the Hong Kong Christian Council, told media that religious leaders had recently discussed the influences of the financial crisis. "We are concerned that religions should be able to help promote the well being of people, in the psycho-social and spiritual dimensions," he said.

At the same meeting, a Confucian leader said that eastern religions might help the rebuilding of the financial market.

"Western culture encourages competition. Many financial tools in the market are 'zero-sum' games. Philosophies and religions in the east emphasize common good and mutual benefits. They may help in this regard," Tong Yun Kai, president of the Confucian Academy said.

The leaders at the meeting were Buddhists, Catholics, Confucians, Muslims, Protestants and Taoists. They agreed they all cared about social problems and the psycho-spiritual health of Hong Kong people in view of the financial meltdown.

At the celebration, the religious leaders plant a tree to show the harmonious relation they enjoyed during the years.

The Hong Kong Christian Council issued a statement on December 18 saying that people suffering from the "financial tsunami" should not "take it as a personal issue of tackling adversity." People should rather "review their basic values and priorities in their own lives." The council said the church "not only lends a helping hand to those who have financial difficulties, but also keeps speaking out against injustice and the systems in society."

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