As Hong Kong tensions intensify, Catholics call for cool heads

Bishop tells crowd that 'violence will only create more violence and hatred will only produce more hatred'
As Hong Kong tensions intensify, Catholics call for cool heads

Catholics gather in front of the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception for a prayer vigil on Aug. 8. (ucanews.com photo)

More than 1,000 Catholics staged a candlelight vigil on Aug. 8 to pray for Hong Kong to solve its political crisis; the organizers hope the faithful can remain solely a prayer movement.

A crowd estimated at 1,200 demanded a full withdrawal of the controversial extradition law amendment; the establishment of an independent investigation committee into the conflict between protesters and police; and accountability by the Hong Kong Legislative Council and chief executive.

They gathered in front of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and marched through the central business district to the Court of Final Appeal of the Hong Kong, singing hymns and holding electronic candles.

The vigil was staged by the Justice and Peace Commission of Hong Kong Diocese (HKJP), Hong Kong Federation of Catholic Students (HKFCS), Diocesan Youth Commission and St. Benedict parish social concern group.

Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing gave a homily to the faithful, saying the situation called for the Church to speak out with peace and reason. “In the past two months, we have really experienced the limit of humanity and we should pray,” he told them.

“Violence will only create more violence. Hatred will only produce more hatred. Injustice will never achieve justice. History will prove that only peace and reason can establish a long-term peace.”

Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha (center) blessed the faithful at the end of the vigil. (ucanews.com photo)

 

The Franciscan bishop pointed out that the root cause lay with the Hong Kong government, who had no excuse for its actions.

Meanwhile, keeping the peace was something of a “mission impossible” for police, he said, since the current problems were rooted in politics, not security.

Bishop Ha also admitted that the city was full of emotion and no one knows what to do. “But at least we can stop for a while and give each other a cooldown period to think about what to do next,” he suggested.

Resolution lies in non-violence

Lina Chan, executive secretary of the HKJP, noted that the levels of violence by police and resistance by the protesters were increasing, so at this precarious time the Church had to emphasize principles of non-violence.

“When we are reaffirming the importance of peace, we should base that on justice,” Chan told ucanews.com. “We need to bring the truth into the light; this is what can lead us to a true reconciliation.”

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Chan also believes the creation of an independent investigation committee could help relieve the current situation. “It is not only the processionals and trade unions who request it but also the public,” she added. “To have such a committee can help avoid similar things happening again.”

Some 1,200 Catholics participated in the Hong Kong vigil on Aug. 8. (ucanews.com photo)

 

Francis Yu, a Catholic from St. John the Baptist parish, agreed with the idea of setting up such a committee, thinking it could restrain emotions. “The violence today is not we want to see. That’s why I pray and hope the issue can be solved soon,” she told ucanews.com.

Although the amendment bill has been suspended, Yu wants the government to formally withdraw it. She also called for an investigation into allegations of abuse of power by the police.

South Korean priest Father Luke Park, who also joined in the march, noted that some people, both in positions of authority and people in general, hoped for a speedy resolution to the crisis.

“But it is tempting to use violence,” Father Park told ucanews.com. “Using force is quick to do but finding a peaceful way takes time. That’s why, as Christians, we have to stick to our position.”

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