By Catholic News Service
HONG KONG (CNS) -- Pope Francis, in a video message recorded on their bishop's cellphone, encouraged Catholics in Hong Kong and in mainland China to be strong in the face of challenges, to be good citizens and to pray for him as he prays for them.
Bishop Stephen Chow Sau-yan of Hong Kong, a Jesuit who was ordained a bishop Dec. 4, met privately with Pope Francis at the Vatican March 17 and posted the videos on the Diocese of Hong Kong's Catholic Way website March 23 and the website of the Sunday Examiner, with subtitles in English.
"Dear brothers and sisters, you Catholics, I greet you with gratitude and love," said the English subtitles of the pope's message in Italian to Catholics on the mainland. "Thank you for your testimony of faith."
In both videos, Pope Francis thanked Catholics for the way they endured and continue to endure the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Sometimes the Lord is hidden from our sight," he said, "but he is always beside us."
In his similar message to Catholics in Hong Kong, also subtitled in English, the pope told them, "I wish you all the best. I wish you to be good citizens; that you be courageous in the face of the challenges of time!"
Bishop Chow told the Jesuit-run America Magazine that meeting the pope, "It felt like meeting another Jesuit brother."
"He asked me at the start of our meeting 'What is the most difficult thing that can happen to a Jesuit?'" he said. "It's to become a bishop!' And, he said, 'I know that.'"
Bishop Chow told America that Pope Francis knew the bishop would face challenges and difficulties as head of the Hong Kong Diocese, but he should not be afraid.
Then, he said, "I asked him if he would mind sending his greetings and some encouragement to the Catholics in the mainland and in Hong Kong under the stress of COVID."
"The Holy Father accepted immediately, and I used my iPhone to make the two videos," Bishop Chow told the magazine.