Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, said Monday that the enrolment of students from the mainland by the University of St. Joseph (USJ) “belongs to the future.”
The Italian cardinal made the remarks during a visit to the USJ campus in Ilha Verde district.
According to previous media reports, the Roman-Catholic university, which is co-owned by the local diocese and the Catholic University in Lisbon, has been keen for years to enrol students from the mainland. Apparently, the central government still has to give a green light to the enrolment.
Filoni is visiting Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong as a special envoy of Pope Francis.
The cardinal blessed the new USJ campus during the visit. He celebrated Mass at the local Cathedral on Sunday.
“A culture that is not open is not a culture. This university will be a lighthouse for the whole of China, for Macau and for Hong Kong, for this whole part of the world,” Filoni told reporters during the visit.
USJ Rector Peter Stilwell told the media on the sidelines of the cardinal’s visit that it was “too late” for enrolling mainland students at his university this year, adding that he expected to raise the issue with the Tertiary Education Services Bureau (DSES) soon.
Most recently, the university requested permission to enrol mainland students in November last year. It has reportedly also contacted the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Macau about its long-standing desire to enrol mainland students.
Meanwhile, Filoni also said that last September’s provisional agreement with the central government on the nomination of Catholic bishops on the mainland was good for the future of the Church not just there but also for world peace.
“It’s a pastoral agreement. It’s not a political, it’s not a diplomatic [agreement], it’s a pastoral agreement,” Filoni told reporters.
“It will help the situation of the Church in [mainland] China, and also world peace,” the 72-year-old cardinal said, adding he hoped that the two-year agreement could be extended.
During his campus tour, the cardinal was accompanied by local Roman-Catholic Bishop Stephen Lee Bung Sang.
Filoni Monday travelled to Hong Kong, where he was based in a missionary capacity between 1992 and 2000. He is slated to return to the Vatican Wednesday.(Macaunews)