Chinese Government demands rent from catholic school authorities
Hong Kong's Catholic school system is currently facing government claims that the Church owes the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent for school buildings, because they are used for 'religious activities'.
An editorial of the Tung Fong newspaper accused the Hong Kong Catholic Church of fraud against the Chinese government, because school prayers are held in Catholic educational institutions without paying rent, while other religious organisations have to pay for using public facilities for liturgical purposes.
When Hong Kong was still under British rule, Catholic schools were not charged for using public buildings.
"The Catholic Church is exempt from paying rent for school buildings," Alice Woo, Hong Kong's diocesan delegate for education, commented on the rent issue.
Church circles in Hong Kong fear, that the Chinese government is seeking to gradually take control over parochial schools.
Currently, Hong Kong numbers 323 Catholic schools, ranging from kindergartens to high schools, serving 289,391 pupils, of whom 18,984 (6.56%) are Catholics.