10/02/2010, 00.00
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Hong Kong censors the Way of the Cross for the persecuted

by Annie Lam
A diocesan group asks for permission to hold the procession on October 16 in memory of all the priests imprisoned in China, but for the authorities the initiative is "politically sensitive". 150 people expected, including card. Zen.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – A Way of the Cross risked being censored in Hong Kong. Local authorities are putting up resistance to the organization of the prayerful event, organised for October 16  by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Diocese to ask for respect for religious freedom in China. The government of the former British colony, which considers the initiative "politically sensitive", at first denied and then granted permission to hold the procession, but the Catholic community fears that there may be last minute problems.

The date chosen for the Way of the Cross is symbolic: October 9, just days before, will mark the 13th anniversary of the arrest of the bishop of Baoding Mgr. Su Zhimin. The diocesan group has decided to use this occasion, to recall all the clergy still imprisoned in China. The story In September, the cultural department of Hong Kong first rejected the Justice and Peace Commission’s application to use Southorn Playground as the starting venue due to full-booking. Then it rejected again the Commission’s booking of a smaller playground on Lockhart Road due to political consideration.  Now, the department has permitted the group to use Southorn Playground again. But Catholics will continue to use the smaller site.

The Commission then decided to published yesterday, October 1, a press release calling for local government to stop the political censorship and support human rights and the rule of law in the region of Hong Kong. The document alleges the government of “not respecting Hong Kong citizens’ freedoms of religion, speech, expression and assembly”. The statement explained that the Commission will continue to begin the prayer procession at Lockhart Road playground after serious considerations, even though the government offered the Southorn Playground to settle the case. Or Yan-yan, a project officer of the Commission, told AsiaNews that the authorities consider the activity "politically sensitive" because it is linked to religious freedom in China. But they would go ahead with the Way of the Cross and begin at the Lockhart Road playground.

About 150 people are expected to attend the event of 16 October. Participants will include Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, retired bishop of Hong Kong, who will speak to the faithful. (Photo: Previous street procession of Way of the Cross organized by Justice and Peace Commission)
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