Hong Kong Catholic students have asked Pope Francis to express concern over the recent crackdown on protests against a law allowing extraditions
to the communist mainland. Two university students, Stephen Anthony Wong and Erica Ng, represented the Hong Kong Diocese at the Eleventh International Youth Forum in Rome
held June 19-22. Ng, the president of the Catholic Society of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told ucanews.com she knew that they would have a chance to meet the Pope in the Vatican, so she and Wong prepared a letter addressed to him. "We were nervous because we had a task to hand in a jointly signed petition to Pope Francis and we were told just ten minutes before the audience that we could greet him one by one,” Ng said. "In less than a ten second greeting, I asked him to pray for Hong Kong and give us support. He answered: ‘Alright, please pray for me'."
The petition about the extradition law was initiated by a group of young Hong Kong Catholics. The letter referred to the recent protests in Hong Kong and the role of the Catholic Chief Executive, Carrie Lam. The controversial extradition law amendment led to millions of people demonstrating against it, forcing Lam to apologize to citizens and to suspend the bill. However, Hong Kong opponents of the measure are demanding that the amendment be completely withdrawn and that Lam step down step down as Chief Executive of the former British colony returned to Communist China in 1997. The Rome youth forum was held by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life and almost 250 young people from more than 100 countries participated with the theme ‘Youth in action in a synodal Church.’ During a group discussion session, Ng took the opportunity to share information about the Hong Kong situation with other young participants. “When I told them there were two massive demonstrations, that the first one had a million people and the second had two million, which were totally peaceful and non-violence, they were amazed,” Ng said. Some young participants approached the Hong Kong delegates and asked to be told more about the extradition amendment and the conflict during a break in proceeding, Ng added. Before meeting with Pope Francis, a Mass was conducted by Cardinal Kevin Farrell
, Prefect of the Dicastery. The cardinal expressed appreciation to Hong Kong students for being willing to stand up and fight for justice. Ng said Cardinal Farrell also mentioned the ‘tank man’ of the Tiananmen massacre in Beijing on June 4, 1989
, who stood in front of a communist regime tank to protect pro-democracy students at that time
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