Christians pray for democracy in China, dedicate Pentecost to the victims of Tiananmen
by Victoria Ma

At least a thousand Catholics and Protestants took part in the rally before joining the Victoria Park vigil. For Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha, the commemoration makes it possible to see God's love and hope in the events of China and Hong Kong. Justice, freedom, democracy, human dignity, and peace are the values of the Kingdom of God.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – About a thousand Catholics and Protestants attended a ‘Prayer rally for democracy in China’ on the evening of June 4 before joining the candlelight vigil at Hong Kong’s Victoria Park to mourn victims of the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989.

This year, June 4 fell on Pentecost Sunday. The vigil, which marked the 28th anniversary of the event, drew about 110,000 people in hot and humid weather as well as amid debates on whether Hong Kong should continue to commemorate the June 4 event that happened in Beijing 28 years ago.

Participants at the prayer gathering included priests, nuns, lay Catholics and Christians of other denominations. Prayer organizers listed the incidents over the past 28 years under the Holy Spirit’s seven gifts.

They mentioned student-led pro-democracy movement in Beijing in 1989, which demanded a clean government and reforms, subsequent crackdowns by military forces that led to the bloodshed and deaths, the purges and imprisonment of dissidents, the Tiananmen Mothers, and support from Hong Kong and its demands for democracy.

The rally was organized by Franciscan Justice and Peace Group and the Union of Hong Kong Catholic Organizations in Support of the Patriotic and Democratic Movement in China.

Christians asked that the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit help them in proclaiming the Gospel despite difficulties on earth.

Even though Chinese supporters of the pro-democracy movement may not be Christians, they are searching for justice, democracy and freedom, the values shown in the Gospel and Catholic social teaching.

Hong Kong’s Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha told the gathering that the meaning of commemoration of the June 4 event raises many questions, as little progress in China’s democracy has been made.

However, holding the commemoration enables Christians to see God’s love and hope, for instance, through the students in Tiananmen Square, the Beijing residents who protected the students, the acts of dissidents like Liu Xiaobo, Hu Jia and Liu Xia, and human rights lawyers, the marches of millions of Hong Kong protesters, and “those who choose to remember and refuse to forget the June 4 event,” the bishop said.

Such actions call for awareness about justice, freedom and democracy, and require respect for fundamental human dignity and peace. These are the values of the Kingdom of God that always shown, the 58-year-old prelate added.

Participants reflected on verses taken from the Book of Isaiah (Is 11:1-2) that articulate the spirits of God, namely wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of God, and responded with a verse: “to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Mt 6:33).

Christians prayed that the Holy Spirit guide them, along with pro-democracy supporters, to contribute to China, and through the commemoration of the victims of June 4 event, to bring peace, justice and democracy to Hong Kong, China and the world.

The prayer ended with a blessing by the bishop, the pastors and deacons to all faithful present at the gathering, before they moved to the football pitches for the vigil.