12/27/2010, 00.00
HONG KONG – CHINA
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Mgr Tong urges Beijing to free Liu Xiaobo, Catholic clergymen and human rights activists

In his Christmas message, the bishop of Hong Kong compares jailed activists to the three wise men who were led by Star of Bethlehem to the manger. He also calls on the Chinese government to free all those who want to improve society.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – In his Christmas message, Mgr John Tong Hon, bishop of Hong Kong, called on the Chinese government to free Liu Xiaobo, activist Zhao Lianhai and all those who are in jail for promoting human rights. He also urged Beijing to release all the clergymen from the underground Church who are behind bars for demanding greater religious freedom in China. In his message, the prelate expressed four dreams or aspirations he has for the future of his diocese, namely evangelisation, vocations, the Universal Church and acting as a bridge with mainland.

Like the star that led the three wise men to Jesus in the biblical nativity story, imprisoned mainland activists can lead the country towards a better future, Mgr Tong said. They include “all the nameless heroes who have responded to the recent appeal of our Holy Father to protect the unborn from abortion, and the newborn from infanticide; Liu Xiaobo, who is in prison for promoting human rights, as well as Zhao Lianhai for uncovering the truth about the tainted milk scandal”.

The shining stars also include the clergymen “from the underground Church who are behind bars for defending religious freedom, as well as clergy in the open Church who were forced to participate in an illegitimate Episcopal ordination, and attend the Eighth Catholic Representatives Assembly in sorrowful protest.”

“I have great respect for all of them,” the prelate said. “I hope and pray that they will soon be set free, and enjoy their civil rights and freedom of belief, so that they will be able to make an even greater contribution to society”. This way, “our nation will enjoy an even greater international reputation”.

In his long message, the bishop looked at the situation of his diocese to describe his dreams. “My first dream,” he said, “is to continue striving to evangelise. This is the mission to teach all nations, which Jesus, before he ascended into heaven, urged his disciples to accomplish . . . .  The second dream is to make every effort to promote vocations” for “Jesus exhorted us: ‘The harvest is great, but the labourers are few’ . . . . My third dream is concern for international Catholics” because “Hong Kong is an international city” and “foreign Catholics form one family with us. . . . My fourth dream is to play the role of Bridge Church” with the mainland, which is opening up at last but whose many old wounds are still healing.

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