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Catholics In Hong Kong . . . Caught Up In Protests Against China

August 5, 2019 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK

Fr. Vincent Woo is a native of Hong Kong. I met him recently during his stay in the United States for the purpose of studying at Catholic University. He will return to his diocese after earning a canon law degree.
He is unsure about the future of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong, which has historically been as one in union with Rome. The Patriotic Church created by the Communist Party never took root in Hong Kong.
The attempt to grab judicial power in Hong Kong is related to the experience of the Church in China. The so-called Patriotic Church, for joining which Pope Francis has given the green light to Chinese clergy, is still opposed by many of the faithful in Hong Kong and elsewhere in China.
Cardinal Zen has been among the most vocal of those opposed to the Vatican attempts to cozy up to the Communist regime. If the laws begin to blur the distinction between Communist China and historically free Hong Kong, can the Church be far behind in also losing its autonomy?
Although the ongoing protests in the former British colony have been unprecedented in size and ongoing for months, they have largely become absent in U.S. headlines after some initial coverage last month. The protests surged to register widespread opposition to a law giving China the right to extradite citizens of Hong Kong to be tried in Chinese courts.
According to Fr. Woo, Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive and a Catholic, promulgated a law to extradite citizens of both China and Hong Kong to China for trial for crimes committed in Hong Kong. Citizens of Hong Kong rose up in public protest over what they conceive as the prospect of a lack of justice if tried in Chinese courts and their confidence in being tried more fairly under the Hong Kong system.
Fr. Woo told me he’s never seen anything like the recent gatherings of 2 million people in the streets of Hong Kong, from every occupational walk of life, gathering as one to fight for democracy.
Fr. Woo and I spoke on July 26, a Friday, as I drove him from his room in Washington, D.C., to my parish to join the priests gathering for our annual parish clergy crab feast and to assist me with weekend Mass coverage. He does not have a car. He told me about an incident involving violent intimidation perpetrated against Hong Kong citizens as they traveled home after joining other protesters in downtown Hong Kong on the previous Sunday.
“Last Sunday was there was a huge protest in downtown and after the protest ended, people were going home to one of the suburban areas. Some gangsters, suspected to be hired by the government, apparently physically attacked the protesters as they exited the trains. People kept calling the police in the face of the attacks, but the police didn’t show up until half an hour later.”
Because Hong Kong is densely populated, authorities usually arrive much more quickly, Fr. Woo explained. The fact that it took so long for help to arrive led the victims to suspect government complicity in the source of the attacks.
Fr. Woo said some people of Hong Kong like President Trump.
Among the protesters “there are some young people with signs saying Trump 2020.” They have sought U.S. support by creating an online petition at WhiteHouse.gov: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/extradition-law-amendment-hong-kong-threat-personal-safety-and-freedom
Trump’s economic policies in regard to China have had the effect of garnering the support of many in Hong Kong. The fallout of the current trade war being fought between China and the U.S. has been good for the freedom fighters of Hong Kong. The economic downturn in China resulting from higher U.S. tariffs has had the result of increasing the value of the small economic powerhouse for China generally.
For this reason, the protesters may be in for more gentle treatment for the time being as the Communist regime depends upon the Hong Kong economy to offset weaker trade.
Unverified sources claim that Carrie Lam has attempted to resign in reaction to calls for her to step down.
“The chief executive is kind of like the governor of Hong Kong. She was appointed by the Chinese government. After the protests she wanted to step down. The Chinese government has pressured her to remain for the time being,” as Fr. Woo described the rumors from various sources.
Lam thus appears to be a puppet of the Communist regime.
Fr. Woo reiterated the historic importance of the protest phenomenon, as he has never seen the people so united and strong in the street. He said the reason they keep showing up and protesting is that they know if they lose this battle against the law of extradition, this will be the end of Hong Kong as they know it with the legal threat of prosecution in China.
Reports say the protests have taken on a Christian character, with protesters singing religiously inspired hymns. The Church has a role to play in freedom everywhere. Faith in Hong Kong as anywhere informs the human spirit to stand for the common good in solidarity and perseverance for loving God and others in His image and likeness.
Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.

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