07/26/2013, 00.00
HONG KONG - CHINA
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Church united in demanding universal suffrage in Hong Kong, "useless to look for internal divisions"

In its statement yesterday, the Diocese of Hong Kong expressed a clear point of view, namely that without formal consultations for true democracy, there will be civil disobedience. Speaking to AsiaNews, several sources said that the diocese's position was "balanced and fair". For them, Beijing wants to use the "old tactics of internal divisions" but has failed because "We are all united in seeking truth and justice."

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - The Catholic Church in Hong Kong "has expressed in a clear manner a common opinion, namely If we do not act now, then when?" The diocese in fact is still hopeful "that the government of China and that of the territory will open a real channel for talks in response to the demands of the people. However, should it fail, it should be clear that even Catholics are ready for civil disobedience," a priest told AsiaNews, as he commented an appeal issued yesterday by the diocese led by Cardinal John Tong.

Published in the diocesan weeklies Kung Kao Po and Sunday Examiner, the statement looks at the chances of achieving universal suffrage for the post of chief executive by 2017.

"We are still hopeful, but we have to admit that for now, prospects look unfavourable. The authorities continue their delaying tactics whilst the government is more concerned about its internal corruption scandals than in setting a timetable for universal suffrage," the source explained.

"The press conference in which the appeal was made was a great success with more than 40 journalists from different media outlets," another source close to the diocese said. "In the evening, all the television channels reported it, and today the papers are full of reactions. It is worth noting that, Tai Kung Pao, a paper close to the Chinese government, published an editorial on the matter."

From the article, "it is clear that they looked closely at the statement. They did not come out against the diocese's position because the latter has always held a very balanced point of view. They just wanted to remind readers that in Hong Kong the Church has been 'cooperating' with the government for a long time. They appear to be suggesting that we "give up" Card Zen's combative positions and remain docile and obedient. They use the same old Communist tactics, creating 'contradictions' within the diocese in order to divide their target."

However, the statement "is backed by the entire diocese," the source said. "There are no internal controversies or oppositions. We all worked together, in consultation with various people, to establish and make public a common position. This is important, because it must be clear to everyone that it is useless to look for internal divisions."

"We have done everything and will continue to do everything possible to avoid oversimplification in the matter," the source said in concluding to AsiaNews.

"We need not say 'yes' or 'no' to Occupy Central. We need formal consultations to reach a model of electoral reform that is appropriate. We want an honest dialogue and we shall do our best to avoid undesirable actions. But it must be understood that, even if we 'Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's,' we are faithful to God."

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