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    » 06/30/2011, 00.00

    HONG KONG – CHINA

    Big rally in Hong Kong for religious freedom and the release of bishops and priests

    Annie Lam

    Led by Card Zen, Hong Kong Catholics call on China to respect religious freedom and stop unlawful Episcopal ordinations. Outside the mainland’s Liaison Office, protesters condemned the torture and abduction of clergymen.
    Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – More than 100 Catholics, led by Card Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, staged a protest last night (feast day of Saints Peter and Paul) outside the Liaison Office, China’s central government office in Hong Kong, to condemn China’s inhuman treatment of the clergy and demand the release of detained Church people.

    Catholic representative Patrick Poon, who spoke at the rally outside, said Hong Kong Catholics were “forced to take to the street” because “human rights, particularly religious freedom,” of Chinese Catholics “have been seriously violated to an intolerable situation”.

    Dozens of local police officers were stationed outside the office and along the way.

    Poon also spoke about the “sad and regrettable illicit ordination” that took place in Leshan (Sichuan) yesterday. He mentioned also the legitimate ordination that was prevented from taking place in Handan (Hebei) where bishop-designate was kept away and his personal freedom endangered.

    “The Chinese government’s obstinate move to continue the illicit ordinations is a serious show of disrespect for the Church and creates division and pain within the Churchn which we strongly protest,” he said.

    Catholics demonstrated after attending a Mass presided by Cardinal Zen at a nearby chapel. The liturgy celebrated the feast day with prayers for the persecuted and suffering in China. The event was organised by the Hong Kong diocese’s Justice and Peace Commission.

    Holding placards, banners and a big cross, the protesters sang hymns. Yellow ribbons were tied onto the barricade outside the gate of China’s Liaison Office, each with the name of a missing or detained member of the clergy onto. As usual, no one from the Office would receive the protesters’ letter, which was placed at the gate.

    Protesters urged the government to investigate the cases of tortured priests. They also demanded apologies and compensations.

    Poon said that priests in Zhangjiakou (Hebei) have been forced to accept so-called “priest-permit” and to follow the government-imposed principle of “independent, autonomous and self-organised Church”.

    He cited the cases of Father Zhang Guangjun of Xuanhua (Hebei), who was badly beaten, and Father Chen Hailong, also of Xuanhua, who was taken away by officials on 9 April and whose whereabouts is still unknown.

    Catholics are “concerned about the personal safety of all the clergymen who have disappeared or who have been detained for merely being loyal to their faith and for exercising their freedom of religion as enshrined in the Chinese Constitution,” Poon added.

    Tomorrow is the 79th birthday of Bishop Su Zhimin of Baoding (Hebei), who has been missing for 14 years after he disappeared in 1997. He has spent one third of his life in detention.

    “The Chinese authorities’ cruel and inhumane treatment against Bishop Su is outrageous,” Poon said.

    Protesters also demanded to know the whereabouts of other clergymen, including Fr Lu Genjun of Baoding and Bishop Shi Enxiang of Yixian.

    They also demanded the release of all detained Church people, including Fr Ma Wuyong and Fr Liu Honggeng of Baoding, and Fr Li Huisheng of Xiwanzi.

    Catholics hope that Chinese authorities will “respect citizens’ freedom of religion and clergymen’s freedom of conscience as well as stop all unlawful ordinations of bishops,” Poon said.

    Photo courtesy: Justice and Peace Commission, Hong Kong
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    See also

    06/09/2006 HONG KONG
    Cardinal Zen joins prayer vigil for journalist arrested in China
    More than 600 well-wishers, among them journalists, politicians and friends, gather in Catholic school for a prayer vigil to proclaim the journalist's innocence and call for his rapid release from a Chinese prison.

    06/06/2006 CHINA – HONG KONG
    HK Chief Executive Donald Tsang ignores Vatican ban and goes to Kunming Bishop's mass
    During a visit to Kunming, Hong Kong Chief Executive and his wife attend mass celebrated by Ma Yinglin, an unlawfully ordained bishop, an inappropriate act. "He cannot plead that he didn't know".

    27/07/2011 HONG KONG - CHINA
    Beijing: crackdown on Catholics, priests who challenge illegal ordinations denied entry
    The canceled visa of Fr. Mella, a PIME priest, is not an isolated incident. AsiaNews sources report "several similar cases” in recent weeks. The crackdown the result of tensions between China and the Vatican over illicit ordinations. It could "go on for some time" and is a source of regret to the faithful who desire "unity with the Pope."

    25/05/2010 HONG KONG – CHINA
    Beijing “opening” to Hong Kong Democrats over reforms
    Democratic Party leaders and the deputy director of the mainland’s Liaison Office hold an historic meeting. The latter praises Democrats’ “pragmatism”, but warns that not everyone wants universal suffrage.

    01/07/2015 Hong Kong – China
    Hong Kong Catholics join march to demand genuine universal suffrage
    Before the rally, Catholics and Protestants held a prayer service in Victoria Park. For Cardinal Zen, political reform was rejected by pan-democrats’ votes, which safeguarded the dignity of the people, but did not advance the cause of true suffrage.



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