10/12/2019, 12.36
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Card. Tong appeals against violence: Restore hope and trust

by John Tong

The Apostolic Administrator of Hong Kong publishes an open letter.  "I feel a deep sorrow at seeing young people anxious and worried because of the current social situation, because they not only represent our future but also our present."


Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Only by "responding to and concretley realising the demands of citizens, is it possible to rebuild social harmony" in Hong Kong, says Card.  John Tong, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese.  Tensions in the former British colony persist since last June with demonstrations against the extradition law (withdrawn after three months).  These have grown into a pro-democracy movement, but the closure of the government has pushed groups of protesters into vandalism and clashes with the police.  The card  Tong (photo 2) published today a letter inviting citizens and faithful to "regain hope".  "Violence is not the solution to the current problem, but only causes deeper and deeper wounds," says the Cardinal.  Already in July, he had signed an appeal asking the government to withdraw the law, curbing provocations and violence, set up a commission of inquiry to find the truth about the clashes.  Today, Card. Tong urges the government to "apply the law conscientiously, rebuilding mutual trust between institutions and citizens".  Here is his letter (Translation by AsiaNews).

Dear friends of Hong Kong,

The riots which began as a result of the extradition law not only are not improving, indeed they are worsening.  As a citizen of Hong Kong, this pains me deeply.  I am a religious and not a politician;  in fact, I'm not here to propose a possible solution to this problem.  However, thanks to my faith, I am firmly convinced that the Lord is the master of human history, what is happening cannot be explained with common sense and the people involved do not know how to deal with it.  And yet, I firmly believe that God accompanies us during difficult times.

Many faithful have asked me: "Besides prayer, what else can we do?"  I know that prayer does not change others, but I think it can convert our heart by helping us to face the test and find hope.  I know that most listeners are not believers and that it is possible to lose control during this period of repeated disorders.  In such situations, I suggest you take a deep breath and remember how we overcame past challenges, finding hope.  And if all this negative information affects our inner peace, I advise people to confide in some trusted friend who understands you;  this helps us move forward.

When our legitimate requests are not accepted, we may feel disappointed.  But you must not lose hope, for despair blurs our gaze towards the future, draining our lives.  We must be careful, because anger causes man to hate.  Little by little, it consumes our ability to distinguish between good and evil, destroying goodness and causing violence.  I firmly believe that violence is not the solution to the current problem, but only causes deeper and deeper wounds.

In fact, the two world wars that took place in the last century and the genocide committed on the Balkan peninsula in the late 1980s which seem like just yesterday, caused countless deaths.  This is precisely the fruit of hatred.  As we all know, both Gandhi and Nelson Mandela - who fought in South Africa for the elimination of segregationist politics - have carried out peaceful protests against tyranny, gaining international fame.  It is said that we are all brothers and sisters: this coincides perfectly with our Christian faith.

We all share the same origin;  each of us has the same nature: we all have feelings;  we all have the right to life;  we all have the same dignity.  Each person brings with him a different life experience, giving rise to different ideas and opinions;  therefore we must respect each other by following our conscience.  This was one of the key elements in determining Hong Kong's success in the past years.

Only by responding to and concretley realise the demands of citizens, it is possible to rebuild harmony;  therefore, at the moment the priority task is the reconstruction of mutual trust between the government and citizens, bringing back that precious social harmony that is failing.  I feel a deep sorrow in seeing young people anxious and worried because of the current social situation, because they not only represent our future but also our present.

What is happening makes them confused and disappointed: how can we help them escape this labyrinth? This is the priority task of all social classes and authorities.  I urge the government to listen carefully to the cry of Hong Kong citizens;  the rulers must apply and respect the law conscientiously, restoring the trust and respect of the citizens towards them.

 God bless you all.

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