CHRISTIANS in Hong Kong must avoid taking a “confrontational approach” as protests engulf the country, the Anglican Archbishop there has said.
In the third month of demonstrations, initially provoked by an extradition Bill (News, 11 June), clashes between protesters and the police have escalated.
Last weekend, the police deployed tear gas, rubber bullets, and foam rounds. More than 600 people have been arrested. Joshua Wong, a Christian figurehead in the protest movement, has been posting images online illustrating police brutality, linked to a Facebook statement they say: “It is almost shameful of the West with how little support and condemnation it has shown towards the humanitarian crisis taking place in Hong Kong.”
On Monday, flights were cancelled after thousands of protesters occupied the international airport. On Tuesday, a group of protesters responded to their brutal treatment by zip-tying and beating a journalist suspected of being a state informer.
In a pastoral letter this month, the Archbishop of Hong Kong, Dr Paul Kwong, urged his people to “remember that we are all members of God’s family, even if we hold different opinions. . . We need to remember that benevolent thoughts come from God, while wicked intentions originate in the ‘evil one’, Satan. In these times, we all need to pray to God for mercy, and forgive one another.”
If the Church took a “confrontational” approach, he said, “how are we different from the rest of the world?”
Clashes had caused “anxiety and pain”, the letter said.
On Thursday of last week, more than 1000 Roman Catholics gathered in front of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and marched to the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong, singing hymns and holding electronic candles.
“Violence will only create more violence,” the RC Auxiliary Bishop, the Rt Revd Joseph Ha Chi-shing, told the gathering. “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.”
The Primate’s letter in full:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In the past two months, the “Extradition Bill” (2019) sparked a series of marches and spread conflicts. As clashes between the police and civilians grew more acute, tension permeated the city, causing anxiety and pain.
We think that when Christians respond to political or public issues, we should remember that we are all members of God’s family, even if we hold different opinions. We might stand on opposite sides, and feel animosity or even hatred towards those with different views. When this happens, we have to be extremely careful, because our hearts might have fallen into the control of the “evil one”. We need to remember that benevolent thoughts come from God while wicked intentions originate in the “evil one,” Satan. In these times, we all need to pray to God for mercy and forgive one another.
When conflicts arise between us, people from both sides need to respect the other party, listen, communicate, and build mutual trust. In the current social atmosphere, we tend to adopt a confrontational approach in response to political issues. If the Church, too, takes this approach, how are we different from the rest of the world? We are one family, can we try to stand in each other’s shoes and understand one another’s position?
The manner of expression is also an important issue. Sometimes, an expression of kindness can open up a new horizon while responses born of animosity only lead to both parties ignoring the others’ demands and opinions.
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43)
Archbishop Paul Kwong Bishop Andrew Chan Bishop Timothy Kwok
4 August 2019