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Stephen Chow (bishop)

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Stephen Chow Sau-yan

Bishop of Hong Kong
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
SeeHong Kong
Appointed17 May 2021
Installed4 December 2021
PredecessorMichael Yeung
Other post(s)Member of Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue (2023–)
Cardinal-Priest of San Giovanni Battista de La Salle (2023–)
Ordination16 July 1994
by John Baptist Wu
Consecration4 December 2021
by John Tong Hon
Created cardinal30 September 2023
by Pope Francis
Personal details
Born (1959-08-07) 7 August 1959 (age 64)
DenominationRoman Catholic
ResidenceHong Kong
Previous post(s)
  • Provincial superior of the Chinese Province of the Society of Jesus (2018–2021)
Alma materUniversity of Minnesota
Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy
Loyola University Chicago
Harvard University
Ordination history
Priestly ordination
Ordained byJohn Baptist Wu (Hong Kong)
Date16 July 1994
PlaceCathedral of the Immaculate Conception, British Hong Kong
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorJohn Tong Hon (Hong Kong em.)
Co-consecratorsJoseph Zen (Hong Kong em.)
Joseph Ha (Hong Kong aux.)
Date4 December 2021
PlaceCathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Hong Kong
Elevated byPope Francis
Date30 September 2023
Chinese name
Styles of
Stephen Chow Sau-yan
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal

Stephen Chow Sau-yan, S.J. (Chinese: 周守仁, born 7 August 1959) is a Hongkonger prelate of the Catholic Church who has served as Bishop of Hong Kong since 2021. He was the provincial superior of the Chinese Province of the Society of Jesus from 2018 to 2021.

Pope Francis made him a cardinal on 30 September 2023.

Early life[edit]

Chow was born in British Hong Kong on 7 August 1959. He studied psychology and philosophy at the University of Minnesota, obtaining a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in Educational Psychology.[1][2] He joined the Society of Jesus in 1984, completing his noviceship in 1986. He studied at the Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy in Dublin, earning a licenciate in philosophy in 1988.[3] He then returned to Hong Kong and taught at Wah Yan College, Kowloon for two years. Starting in 1990, he studied theology at the Holy Spirit Seminary in Hong Kong.[2] On 16 July 1994, Chow was ordained a priest in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception by John Baptist Wu, Bishop of Hong Kong. He undertook postgraduate studies at Loyola University Chicago, receiving a master's degree in organizational development in 1995.[1][2]

Presbyteral ministry[edit]

Chow's first pastoral assignment was at Wah Yan Kowloon and Hong Kong, where he was chaplain, teacher, and school manager from 1996 to 2000.[2] He began doctoral studies at Harvard University in 2000 and received his Doctor of Education degree six years later.[3][4] His thesis was titled "Understanding Moral Culture in Hong Kong Secondary Schools: Relationships among Moral Norm, Moral Culture, Academic Achievement Motivation, and Empathy".[3][5] He made his final vows on 17 April 2007.[1]

Until 2021, Chow served as supervisor of both Wah Yan colleges in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.[1][2] He was an honorary assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong from 2007 to 2014, as well as a part-time professor of psychology at Holy Spirit Seminary.[1][3] He participated at the Jesuits' 36th General Congregation in October 2016.[2] Chow succeeded John Lee Hua as provincial superior of the Chinese Province of the Society of Jesus on 1 January 2018.[1][6]

Episcopal ministry[edit]

Chow was appointed Bishop of Hong Kong on 17 May 2021.[1] The see had been vacant since 3 January 2019, when Michael Yeung died after less than two years in office. His appointment was described as a surprise by the Jesuit magazine America given that he had not been mentioned as one of the likely candidates for the post.[2] The Union of Catholic Asian News had mentioned in January 2019 that two of the candidates were Jesuits, without naming them.[7] Chow later revealed that he initially declined the bishop's title in December 2020 because he thought the post should go to a member of the secular clergy. He relented after receiving a handwritten letter from Pope Francis.[8][9] He was consecrated on 4 December 2021.[10]

In April 2023, Chow visited the archdiocese of Beijing. He met with Archbishop Joseph Li Shan, visited several churches and the Zhalan Cemetery that holds the tombstone of Matteo Ricci. During the visit he told the press:

"Everyone would like to see their own country do well, no one wants it to do badly. I think it’s everyone’s duty to be patriotic if you're a citizen in Hong Kong or mainland China."[11]

His was the first Beijing visit by a Hong Kong bishop since 1985.[12] After returning to Hong Kong, he elaborated further on his call to patriotism. He said:

"Like many Hongkongers, I grew up during the colonial era when national sentiment and identity could hardly be part of our consciousness. It can be said that our blood does not carry any love for the nation...It requires extra effort to alter this mentality and it is even more difficult to do so after experiencing the social and political changes over the past decade...I believe both the central and local governments are also aware of this. We really need guidance from the Holy Spirit so we can love our country and our churches at the same time."

He also called for dialogue with the government and that people should help the government improve for the sake of the country.[13] In May 2023, he commented that he did not believe the Vatican-China deal was 'dead', despite disputes regarding Beijing's unilateral installation of bishops.[14] In May 2023, Chow said that

"The fate of the church in China is inseparable from that of the country, as all the people of the church are also Chinese."[15]

On 9 July 2023, Pope Francis announced he plans to make him a cardinal at a consistory scheduled for 30 September.[16] Chow commented on the appointment:

I think the appointment as cardinal will strengthen the role of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong as a bridging church, to promote exchanges and interactions between mainland China and the universal Church.[17]

At that consistory he was made cardinal priest of San Giovanni Battista de La Salle.[18]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Resignations and Appointments, 17.05.2021" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 17 May 2021. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h O’Connell, Gerard (17 May 2021). "Head of Chinese Jesuits named new bishop of Hong Kong". America. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d "Announcement and Curriculum Vitae". Roman Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong. 17 May 2021. Archived from the original on 17 May 2021. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  4. ^ Lau, Mimi (17 May 2021). "Vatican appoints Stephen Chow as new bishop of Hong Kong". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 17 May 2021. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  5. ^ Chow, Stephen Sau-Yan (2006). Understanding moral culture in Hong Kong secondary schools: Relationships among moral norm, moral culture, academic achievement motivation, and empathy (Ed.D.). Harvard University. Docket UMI 3221587. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  6. ^ "Hong Kong Jesuit for Asian provincial". Sunday Examiner. Hong Kong. Archived from the original on 17 May 2021. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  7. ^ "Bishop of Hong Kong passes away at 73". Hong Kong. Union of Catholic Asian News. 3 January 2019. Archived from the original on 20 February 2020. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  8. ^ Lau, Mimi (18 May 2021). "Hong Kong's new Catholic bishop pledges to unify divided city and start healing process among young". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 18 May 2021. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  9. ^ "There is a God who wants us to be united, says bishop-elect". Sunday Examiner. Hong Kong. 18 May 2021. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  10. ^ "Stephen Chow named as new bishop of Hong Kong". RTHK. Government of Hong Kong. 17 May 2021. Archived from the original on 17 May 2021. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  11. ^ Lam, Jeffie (21 April 2023). "'Patriotism is everyone's duty': Hong Kong bishop brushes aside 'politicising religion' concerns during historic Beijing visit". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 22 April 2023.
  12. ^ Allen, Elise Ann (22 April 2023). "Hong Kong bishop closes Beijing visit amid rising Sino-Vatican tensions". Crux. Retrieved 14 May 2023.
  13. ^ Lam, Jeffie (28 April 2023). "Being patriotic requires 'extra effort' by Hongkongers who grew up in colonial era, city's top Catholic cleric says". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 28 April 2023.
  14. ^ Allen, Elise Ann (13 May 2023). "Hong Kong prelate says Vatican-China deal 'not dead' despite disputes over bishops". Crux. Retrieved 13 May 2023.
  15. ^ "Fate of the church in China 'inseparable' from that of the country, says Hong Kong bishop, as Tiananmen mass axed". Hong Kong Free Press. 26 May 2023. Retrieved 27 May 2023.
  16. ^ "Le parole del Papa alla recita dell'Angelus, 09.07.2023" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. Retrieved 9 July 2023.
  17. ^ https://cruxnow.com/church-in-asia/2023/08/popes-pick-in-hong-kong-says-red-hat-will-help-build-bridges-with-china, Crux, New cardinal in Hong Kong says red hat will help ‘build bridges’ with China, retrieved August 1st 2023
  18. ^ "Assignation of Titles and Deaconries to the new Cardinals, 30.09.2023" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 30 September 2023. Retrieved 1 October 2023.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John Lee Hua
Provincial Superior of the
Chinese Province of the Society of Jesus

Succeeded by
Stephen Tong
Preceded by Bishop of Hong Kong
New creation Cardinal-Priest of San Giovanni Battista de La Salle