In Macau, the Church Keeps Watch Over the Right to Life

June 22, 2022
Macau Cathedral

The diocese of Macau encourages its faithful not to “let their guard down” in the face of the wave of secularization that is hitting the Chinese port city, where the themes of euthanasia, abortion and gender ideology are repeatedly invited to the public space.

In terms of the culture of death, Macau cannot be said to be among the most permissive cities in Southeast Asia. Abortion has not been liberalized there, as in mainland China, but only tolerated if the life or health of the mother is threatened, as well as in the event of fetal malformation.

However, secularization is advancing, creeping in, and raising fears for the future. The diocese of Macao has therefore chosen to raise awareness among the faithful – around 4% of the population – of the heavy threats to the right to life.

“Even though the Macau laws protect human life better than in other cities or regions, the situation is not the same concerning the actions and practices of the citizens,” explains Fr. Michael Cheung, who emphasizes that “many things happen of which we are not aware, because they are not relayed by the media, or because they are simply accomplished in secret.”

The religious – a member of the Institute of the Incarnate Word and in charge of the Diocesan Commission for Life – recalls that the local media believe that the rate of clandestine abortions is higher than we imagine, due to a secularization which particularly manifests itself through the gaming industry.

Macao has indeed become a gambling capital in Asia, involving a whole series of practices of which women and young girls are the first victims. The South Morning Post newspaper carried out a survey of doctors in Gongbei, the mainland China city closest to Macau. It shows that 30% of the abortions performed there for teenagers from the colony returned to China by Portugal in 1999.

Abortion is not Fr. Cheung's only fear, because the inexorable aging of the local population is a new source of concern for the religious. Indeed, Macau had 682,100 inhabitants in 2021, including 82,800 people aged 65 and over.

The figures show a 107% increase in this category of the population when compared to 2011. As one can imagine, this new situation has led to an increase in the dependency rate for the elderly, and the debate on the decriminalization of euthanasia for so-called “exceptional” cases has entered the public arena.

Even though the Macau government swears loudly that it has no intention of legalizing assisted suicide, the Church remains vigilant, and must continue keep the pressure on to restrict abortion and guarantee the ban on euthanasia, warns Fr. Cheung.

Because, if the current legislation is a “grace of God,” compared to neighboring countries, Catholics must not “let their guard down” in the face of the “wave of secularization which opposes the teachings of the Church,” when it comes to abortion, euthanasia, and gender ideology, concludes the religious.