Hong Kong House of Bishops issues pastoral letter

The Hong Kong Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui House of Bishops issued a pastoral letter last week responding to the continuing demonstrations there. The bishops declined to take a side on the political and legal issues that have prompted protest, instead urging “people from both sides … to respect the other party, listen, communicate, and build mutual trust,” remembering that “benevolent thoughts come from God while wicked intentions originate in the ‘evil one,’ Satan.” The full letter follows:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In the past two months, the “Extradition Bill” (2019) sparked a series of marches and spread conflicts. As clashes between the police and civilians grew more acute, tension permeated the city, causing anxiety and pain.

We think that when Christians respond to political or public issues, we should remember that we are all members of God’s family, even if we hold different opinions. We might stand on opposite sides, and feel animosity or even hatred towards those with different views. When this happens, we have to be extremely careful, because our hearts might have fallen into the control of the “evil one”. We need to remember that benevolent thoughts come from God while wicked intentions originate in the “evil one,” Satan. In these times, we all need to pray to God for mercy and forgive one another.

When conflicts arise between us, people from both sides need to respect the other party, listen, communicate, and build mutual trust. In the current social atmosphere, we tend to adopt a confrontational approach in response to political issues. If the Church, too, takes this approach, how are we different from the rest of the world? We are one family, can we try to stand in each other’s shoes and understand one another’s position?

The manner of expression is also an important issue. Sometimes, an expression of kindness can open up a new horizon while responses born of animosity only lead to both parties ignoring the others’ demands and opinions.

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5: 43)

Archbishop Paul Kwong  Bishop Andrew Chan  Bishop Timothy Kwok

4 August 2019

Since the bishops’ letter was written last week, protests in Hong Kong have continued, most recently shutting down the airport, and the police and government response appears to be escalating. The Guardian reports

Medical staff at more than a dozen public hospitals elsewhere in the territory staged a sit-in on Tuesday against police tactics and the government’s refusal to accede to protesters’ demands. The Civil Human Rights Front, a group which has organised several of the mass marches over the past two months, called for a new rally on Sunday.

Michelle Bachelet, the UN human rights commissioner, urged authorities to exercise restraint. “Officials can be seen firing teargas canisters into crowded, enclosed areas and directly at individual protesters on multiple occasions, creating a considerable risk of death or serious injury,” she said in a statement that called for an investigation.

The unprecedented cancellation of all flights on Monday coincided with the latest in an increasingly threatening series of statements by Beijing. A Chinese official said “terrorism” was emerging in the city, while in Hong Kong authorities demonstrated water cannon for use in crowd control.

Featured image: Still from a Chinese government video showing tanks and trucks moving toward the Hong Kong border. Via the Guardian.

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