09/13/2019, 09.32
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Msgr. Joseph Ha of Hong Kong: Close to young people, we work for reconciliation

by Bernardo Cervellera

The auxiliary bishop of the territory, who in these months has accompanied and supported the consciences of young people speaks to AsiaNews. After three months of tensions, "the conflict between the demonstrators and the police, as well as the dissatisfaction with the work done by the government" must be addressed. For the mission of the Church, psychological and moral support and a pastoral direction for the parish communities are essential.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - The Church in Hong Kong is close to young people and the population at this "difficult" time and the most urgent commitment is "reconciliation" in society, addressing "the conflict between demonstrators and the police, and dissatisfaction with the work done by the government ". This is what Msgr. Joseph Ha Chi-shing, auxiliary bishop of Hong Kong, tells AsiaNews in an interview.

The bishop, a Franciscan friar, was among the personalities closest to the youth of the anti-extradition movement, celebrating Masses, participating in vigils and moments of solidarity, calling for a ceasefire. What started with the request to cancel the extradition law in China, has become a movement demanding full democracy and for justice in society.

The reality is that many young people are struggling with widespread unemployment, house prices that are too high and an increasingly costly life, which deprives them of a future. After the first peaceful demonstrations, there were violent fringes among the young, the police responded with unprecedented aggression, to the point of being accused of excessive use of force, and subjected to an independent investigation.

Already at the time, Card. John Tong and some Christian leaders joined this petition. In any case, Msgr. Ha wanted to point out that in the interview he expresses only his personal point of view, and not the official one of the diocese of Hong Kong.

Excellence, these are difficult times for Hong Kong ...

Yes, this is a very difficult time indeed.  Please keep us in your prayers.  As you may also aware that the 'extradition bill' was just the trigger which initiated the movement.  Should the proposed amendment of the bill be withdrawn after the first massive rally of one million Hongkongers to the streets on June 09 or the second massive rally of two million Hongkongers on June 16, the situation would have been much less tense.  It is a pity that authorities concerned did not respond to the public demand.

You have always been close to the young, who are the majority of the protesters. How can you get them to talk to the government?

As for the situation now, in mid-September, three whole months after the very first massive rally, the voice of the people has been loud and clear.  Dialogue is not the crucial game changing focus anymore.  Instead, reconciliation should be the key.  The conflict between the protesters and the police, the dissatisfaction towards the performance of the government must be addressed.  

It is apparent that we must try out best to heal the soul and body of our younger generation.  Please do not ask me how to heal the young souls.  I really do not know how can that be done without the intervention from the Holy Spirit.

The Church has shown itself close to young people and their situation ...

Our strength and capabilities are so limited.  We can only try our best, draw on whatever talent God has granted us and stand by the young ones.  We count on the power of human conscience, a gift granted by God embedded in all of us.  Under the leadership of His Eminence, Cardinal John Tong, the Diocese draws on resources of all our parishes, Caritas Hong Kong and so on to serve our community.  At the moment, psychological support, moral support and pastoral direction to the young ones and our fellow parishioners are most essential.  We are working hard on those areas.

For the time being, please do pray for us.


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