"Love life, the gift of God!" is the title of the Hong Kong prelate's Lenten message, dated Feb. 6, in which he refers to the top challenge mentioned by John Paul II to the diplomatic corps Jan. 10.
"Life is the first gift of God to a human being, the most fundamental treasure," explained Bishop Zen. "The Church preaches the Gospel of life and reminds states that their main duty is to protect this fundamental human right to existence, which unfortunately is facing a more and more serious challenge."
In fact, "human life at its initial stage is particularly vulnerable and needs the special protection of state authority," he noted.
"Unfortunately, a culture of death is infiltrating the values of today's society," the bishop continued. "Abortion is increasingly seen as a way to 'solve problems.' Easy ways to undergo abortion, used on mainland China, have crossed the border and can even spare people from seeking medical assistance in hospitals.
"The life of each human person is very precious in the eyes of God, but so many have been deprived of the right to be born. This is a usurpation of the sacred power of God over human life, a terrible crime!"
This challenge to life is "very much connected with problems concerning the family, which today is constantly threatened by various agents in society and culture," Bishop Zen added.
"God's plan is that a new, tender life be born and be raised up in the warmth of a family. But more and more attempts are made to overthrow the concept of family as the stable and exclusive union of a man and a woman," said the prelate, applying his comments also to Hong Kong.
"Is the sacredness of marriage and the importance of the family no longer a part of the common value frame of Hong Kong's people? Don't we see that many human tragedies are created by the distortion of concepts regarding marriage and the family?" asked the bishop.
Addressing Hong Kong's faithful, Bishop Zen said that certainly "our understanding of 'respect life, the gift of God' is very antithetic with the hierarchy of values of the world; our vision is against the present currents of society. May the Lord, who has defeated the temptations of the devil, give us courage to declare war on the culture of death and to proclaim the Gospel of life."
"It is a war and no compromise is possible," Bishop Zen added. May "our effort to respect life, to defend family values, and to care for our neighbor ... make this Lenten season a meaningful one."