Pope Francis has chosen Jesuit Stephen Chow, 62, to be the next bishop of Hong Kong. The appointment was announced on May 17. According to the AP, the American-educated clergyman's appointment will not take effect until December 4.

Chow held a press conference on May 18. The AP quoted the future bishop as saying he had “no big plan” for bringing about unity among the city's 404,000 Catholics. The AFP pointed out that Hong Kong's Catholic community included pro-democracy activists, such as publisher Jimmy Lai, but also pro-Beijing figures, such as Carrie Lam, the head of the city's government.

'Prudence is a virtue'

Lai's newspaper, the Apple Daily, noted that Chow had been "tip-lipped" when asked to comment on conditions that Christians faced in mainland China. The paper quoted the future bishop as saying the communist government's removal of crosses from hundreds of churches was "upsetting." The paper added, however, that Chow had declined to call it "suppression."

The AFP quoted the clergyman as saying he was refraining from further comments about the situation in China because he did not have enough information. According to the news agency, Chow insisted he was not acting out of fear. The AFP recalled Chow telling the press, "I believe that prudence is also a virtue." According to the AFP, the future bishop said he intended to remind the government that "Religious freedom is a basic right."

According to the AP, when asked if he would once more participate in public commemorations of the 1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square, the clergyman said it would depend on what the law allowed.

The AP quoted chow as saying he would be sure to pray for the victims of the massacre.

Striving for unity, not uniformity

The AFP recalled Chow telling the press that accepting people with different opinions was necessary to establish unity. The news agency said he had stressed "To respect plurality is something we all have to learn." The AP quoted the future bishop as saying "Unity is not the same as uniformity."

An American Education

Chow was born on August 7, 1959, in Hong Kong and was ordained on July 16, 1994, according to Vatican News.

The news site said he had received a bachelor's and a master's degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota, a master's degree in organizational development from Loyola University in Chicago, and a doctorate in human development and psychology from Harvard University. Vatican News said the clergyman had also studied in Ireland and his native Hong Kong.

Vatican News also said the future bishop had served as supervisor of two colleges in Hong Kong and had recently been an honorary assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong.