Police react during scuffles with pro-democracy protesters at a rally in the Tsim She Tsui district of Hong Kong on Oct. 27. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who defied authorities to hold a rally on the scenic harbourfront, the latest flashpoint in months of political unrest gripping the city. (Photo by Dale De La Rey/AFP)
As protests continue on the streets of Hong Kong pitching pro-government groups against pro-democracy protesters, Catholics were urged to pray for the realization that all are humans and not "cockroaches or dogs."Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha of Hong Kong addressed a prayer gathering of some 300 people on Oct. 26 at public Chater Garden in the Chinese-administered city where demonstrations continue to demand freedom and democracy.The bishop prayed that "God can help us realize that everyone is human, not cockroaches, dogs or yellow objects," reported Radio Television Hong Kong.The prelate was referring to slogans and statements where pro-government groups often referred to protesters as "cockroaches" while protesters called police officers "dogs."A senior police officer was accused of describing a protester as "a yellow object." His comment came after a video clip showed several officers kicking and attacking the protester.The bishop explained that the prayer meeting was not held in a church but at a public place to show that the Catholic Church cares about society.Bishop Ha said Hong Kong was now filled with hatred and anger. Violence can only beget more violence but never justice, he said.The bishop reiterated his call for an independent probe into the four-month movement. He also shared his belief that God can lead Hong Kong to reconciliation and peace by taking the first step of truth-seeking.Cheung, a Catholic who attended the prayer meeting, said the young people who spearheaded the protests "may be exhausted because the Chinese government never heard their voice." Cheung expressed hope that the "one country, two systems" system that was agreed in administering Hong Kong can remain, helping people to "enjoy freedoms and universal suffrage" promised in the Basic Law. Meanwhile, Cardinal John Tong of Hong Kong said he wanted the government to listen "to the voices of the people and enforce the law with a conscience."In an exclusive interview with the Holy See's official Vatican News, the cardinal said he was saddened by the social situation, adding that Hong Kong people must remain hopeful, avoid violence and do all they can to rebuild harmony.All have a role to play in restoring normality while the government must do its part to listen to people, and all should stop violence, Cardinal Tong said.