Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong calls for restraint

The Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong has called for the government and public to exercise restraint and seek a peaceful resolution to a controversial bill that if passed into law would allow Hong Kong citizens’ extradition to mainland China.

The bill has resulted in massive protests.

Church leaders are supporting the protests which are calling for the withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill and the resignation of the Chinese territory’s leader.

Although Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam said last week that she had suspended the proposed extradition law in the formerly British, now Chinese territory, an estimated two million people turned out to protest last weekend.

After the rally, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing of Hong Kong participated in an ecumenical prayer meeting outside the Legislative Council building with thousands of young Christians.

Ha reminded the faithful that the protesters were Christians first.

“Even though the government did many things that we don’t like and were very wrong, we cannot demonize them, because this is not our faith request,” he said.

“No matter how long they stay, I will continue to stay with them,” he said. “All we want is to have the freedom to which everyone is entitled and no longer live in fear”.

A particular feature throughout the protests has been the hymn “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord”. It was sung during impromptu prayer meetings along the route, at roadblocks and during a gathering of protesters outside the legislature building and during tense stand-offs with the police.

Many Christians said they felt empowered by a pervasive sense of God while non-Christian demonstrators said they were also touched by a feeling of love and peace through the singing of the hymn.

About 11 percent of Hong Kong’s residents are Christian, including 390,000 Catholics, representing about 5 percent of the population.

A Catholic activist said he believed there would have been more bloodshed during the mass protests if Catholic and Protestant clergy had not at times “acted as a barrier” between the riot police and angry young protesters, who joined in singing “Sing Hallelujah.”

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News category: World.

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