The Chinese Communist Party government that now controls Hong Kong has cracked down on any kind of memorials to the Tiananmen Square massacre that took place on June 4, 1989. Police were a heavy presence in Victoria Park, where Hong Kong citizens traditionally gather to commemorate with candlelight vigils the freedom activists who were killed by the CCP thirty-two years ago. People were stopped in their effort to enter the park, and some were searched. Anyone with candles, signs, or any other object police suspected was to be used to commemorate the anniversary were subject to arrest.
Even still, Hong Kong citizens found ways to commemorate those who died protesting for freedom. Some, lacking candles, turned the lights on on their cell phones as they walked the streets. Others remembered more quietly in their homes or in churches. Some risked or even suffered arrest, holding candles in the park. As the CCP continues their campaign to suppress individual rights in Hong Kong, many brave citizens refuse to be silenced.
Pope Francis recently named Fr. Stephen Chow Sau-yan, SJ the new bishop of Hong Kong. Plans are for Fr. Chow to be installed in December, 2021. The appointment was two years in coming. Fr. Chow had been offered the appointment before, but turned it down. Pope Francis’ first choice for Hong Kong was Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing. China protested, however, when it was learned that Bishop Ha Chi-shing had participated in pro-democracy demonstrations. Fr. Chow, apparently, is a more acceptable candidate for the Chinese Communist Party. Whether that is good news for the Catholics of Hong Kong or not remains to be seen.
The Chinese Communist Party government of China wants to destroy all religion and democratic ideas in China, and that now includes Hong Kong. Jimmy Lai and Martin Lee, two devout Catholics who are leaders in the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong were arrested and imprisoned for their pro-democracy activities after a show trial. The Vatican has not been especially supportive of Catholics in China who are outspoken in their support of democracy, either on the mainland or in Hong Kong. Cardinal Joseph Zen has attempted to speak with the pope for some time now on the situation of the Church in China and the Vatican’s renewal of a deal on the naming of bishops, but he has been rebuffed. The Catholics in China remain divided between those members of the Catholic Chinese Patriotic Association, approved by the CCP but with limitations on their practices and teachings, especially as regards their ties to the Holy See, and those in the underground Church, who remain devoted to the pope but suffer persecution from the government. The Vatican has long walked a tightrope between the two groups, hoping to resolve conflicts and those matters at the root of the division, but it is difficult to do so when the CCP controls life in the country.
We must continue to pray for the people of China, many of whom endure severe human rights abuses and even death at the hands of the Chinese Communists. We must continue to pray for our Catholic confreres in this troubled country, perhaps especially for those in Hong Kong who are desperate to hold on to the freedoms they have enjoyed for so long and are unwilling to surrender. So far, there has been little support from the international community, or at least not enough. China is a behemoth on the world stage, militarily, politically, and economically. The people of China and of Hong Kong ought not be sacrificed by the West for the sake of political or economic advantage. The Catholics of China ought not be sacrificed by the universal Church for the sake of peace at any price.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.