Hong Kong crisis pits Catholic students against Catholic leader

Edwin Chow, 20, a native of Hong Kong, is in his third year of university, where he’s studying government and international studies.

But over the past year, has likely learned as much about both subjects in the streets of his home city as he has in the classroom.

Since June, Catholics like Chow, along with hundreds of thousands of their fellow citizens, have participated in widespread protests against the mainland Chinese government as well as rulers of semi-autonomous Hong Kong.

Chow just finished his term as president of the Hong Kong Federation of Catholic Students, whose 50 or so active members are decidedly pro-democracy, and have participated in demonstrations against the city’s government as well as China’s rulers in Beijing.

“We want a government elected by the Hong Kong people, and we want autonomy for the people,” he told Angelus News in an interview.

“I think if (mainland China) really takes over Hong Kong, of course, they will suppress the religious freedom of Hong Kong.”

Chinese Catholics have held prayer vigils during the protests, organized information sessions about the movement and even extended material aid to protesters, Chow said.

He noted that even though Catholics are a minority, making up about 5% of the population, many of them, particularly younger Catholics, support the hundreds of thousands who have turned out for various events to publicly resist Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s administration.

“Some people feel religion should be separate from politics,” Chow said, noting some older Hong Kong Catholics question how vocal they should be against the government.

“I think our religion is about society, and we should care about society, and we should participate in society.”

On that note, hundreds of Catholics attended a special public service Oct. 26, where Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing asked people to pray the rosary daily as a form of nonviolent resistance.

Chi-Shing also repeated his previous calls for an independent commission to investigate government actions during the crisis. Continue reading


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