The South China Morning Post reported Auxiliary Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung of the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong made the comments on Sunday.
The newspaper said that Yeung made the comparison while defending Cardinal John Tong Hon, who heads the Roman Catholic Church in Hong Kong.
Tong in a Nov. 5 letter urged Catholics to consider candidates’ positions on marriage rights for same-sex couples and a proposed ordinance that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation when they vote in local elections on Nov. 22.
“The church doesn’t have any enemy and it wouldn’t criticize anyone,” said Yeung, according to the South China Morning Post. “It was only talking about a wrong-doing. For example, it was wrong to [abuse] drugs and we would say so, but we still love drug addicts.”
Yeung made the comments a day after more than 9,000 people took part in Hong Kong’s largest-ever LGBT Pride march.
Tom Cooney, deputy U.S. consul general to Hong Kong and Macau, is among the several diplomats from Germany and other countries who spoke during the event.
“We find the bishop’s analogy very unfortunate, disappointing and hurtful to the LGBT community,” Wally Suphap of the Hong Kong Gay and Lesbian Attorneys Network told the Washington Blade on Tuesday in a statement. “At a time when more and more faith communities around the world are engaging in constructive dialogues with their respective LGBT communities, including their openly gay congregation members.”
Tommy Chen, a spokesperson for Rainbow Action, an LGBT advocacy group in Hong Kong, on Tuesday was equally as critical of Yeung.
Chen during a WhatsApp interview with the Blade criticized Tong for not publicly supporting pro-democracy advocates who protested in Hong Kong’s streets last year during the so-called “Umbrella Movement.” The advocate also accused the Catholic bishop of not backing “other human rights issues.”
“This time he’s [trying] to condemn homosexuals,” Chen told the Blade.
Yat-ming Fung of the Catholic Social Communications Office, which speaks on behalf of the Diocese of Hong Kong, on Tuesday declined to comment on those who have criticized Yeung’s remarks.
Tong: Obergefell ruling ‘worse than climate change’
China regained control of the former British colony in 1997.
Tong released his Nov. 5 letter less than two weeks after the Catholic bishops who had gathered in Rome to discuss the family released the final draft of their long-awaited report.
The document states unions between same-sex couples are not “even remotely analogous” to “God’s plan for marriage and the family.” The bishops stressed the church “reaffirms that every person, regardless of their sexual orientation, must be respected in their dignity.”
Tong in a second letter he released on Sept. 21 criticized the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Obergefell case that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples throughout the United States.
“The court there, by a majority of 5-4, mandated the grant of marriage licenses to same-sex couples throughout the USA,” wrote Tong. “In so doing it has effectively redefined marriage in all the 50 states. The resulting ‘climate change’ in moral attitudes and conduct towards sex and marriage, if not properly addressed, can be as bad as and even worse than climate change in the physical environment.”
Tong released the letter ahead of the World Meeting of Families that took place in Philadelphia.
Pope Francis on Sept. 27 celebrated Mass at the event before returning to Rome after his eight-day trip to the U.S. and Cuba.
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