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Hong Kong bishops make plea for peace

29 November 2019

Protesters trapped in ‘vicious cycle of sin’, says pastoral letter


Protesters raise their hands outside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, on Monday

Protesters raise their hands outside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, on Monday

HONG KONG has become a “land of hatred, bitterness, and piteous cries” as a result of continuing violence between protesters and the authorities (News, 16 August), bishops in Hong Kong have warned.

The sustained violence was a result of protesters’ feeling unable to see “a way forward”, they said.

In a pastoral letter sent to clergy and congregations for Advent, the Archbishop of Hong Kong, Dr Paul Kwong; the Bishop of Western Kowloon, the Rt Revd Andrew Chan; and the Bishop of Eastern Kowloon, Dr Timothy Kwok, said that they knew that many in the territory had been praying for Christ to intervene to grant justice and strengthen democracy, but frustration had led protesters to violence, and they were trapped in a “vicious cycle of sin”.

PAThe Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, speaks at a press conference in Hong Kong, on Tuesday

“When we cannot see a way forward, and when the situation deteriorates, we tend to seek shortcuts to reach our goals. And so we make use of force, vigilante justice, threats, violence, and domination to resolve problems, resulting in more chaos and conflict. But the above-mentioned methods cannot recover kindness, because they trap us in a vicious cycle of sin, turning Hong Kong into a land of hatred, bitterness, and piteous cries. “

They said that, although many might think it “unrealistic . . . we need to replace hatred with love, condemnation with forgiveness and reconciliation, and sincerely seek to understand and face the truth with honesty instead of lies.”

They urged Christians to begin by striving for peace and reconciliation in their own lives, and said that the Church was “dedicated from beginning to end to following in Jesus’s footsteps without using violence, domination, and conflict to build up her power, but, rather, through sacrifice, forgiveness, and tolerance to win people’s hearts”.

Hong Kong has experienced months of increasingly violent protests since Carrie Lam, its leader, introduced an extradition Bill that critics believed could be used to send political dissidents from Hong Kong to China.

Although the Bill was eventually dropped, the protests have continued, and the issues have widened.

The Roman Catholic Apostolic Administrator in Hong Kong, Cardinal John Tong Hon, has also intervened, saying that “peace should be internal first”.

“We cultivate ourselves with our prayer, and then we witness peace, or we can be a peacemaker through our speech or through our behaviour to influence others so that peace can be spread out. And then, finally, those people in conflict should sit down and talk to each other.”

In local elections this week, pro-democracy candidates made massive gains and now control 17 out of 18 district councils. Ms Lam has promised she will “seriously reflect” on the election results.

A BBC Panorama investigation this week revealed systematic brainwashing of Uighur Muslims detained in camps in China. Leaked documents show that hundreds of thousands of Muslims were being locked up, indoctrinated, and punished in vast detention centres in the Xinjiang region. Release International, which supports persecuted Christians around the world, said that Christians were also experiencing the worst persecution in China since the Cultural Revolution.

A Release partner, Bob Fu, said: “In China’s north-western Xinjiang region, between one and three million people from Turkic minority groups have been rounded up and imprisoned in internment camps. Camp survivors have reported starvation, forced labour, and torture.

“If a child’s parents have been taken to the camps, then the child is placed in an orphanage and forced to speak Mandarin instead of their native language, effectively erasing their identity.”

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