04/07/2023, 13.07
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Msgr. Chow: 'May those in prison in Hong Kong see the light'

by mons. Stephen Chow Sau-yan*

In his Easter message, the bishop recalls the 6,000 people detained awaiting trial for "violence" in 2019 and pleads for clemency: "Waiting indefinitely will not help them or our society." A thought to those who left Hong Kong: "God will not forsake us who sincerely call upon him, seeking a more just and freer homeland for all who inhabit it."


Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Bishop Stephen Chow Sau-yan is calling for a gesture of mercy for those in jail awaiting trial for arrests related to the 2019 demonstrations in Hong Kong in his Easter message released earlier today. Words that have at their core a call for hope even amid Hong Kong's "continued suffering." In the text, the prelate recalls those who have experienced the weight of the severe economic crisis, but also the emptiness left by those who in recent hanni have chosen to leave because of the narrow spaces of freedom. And he assures the faithful that "God will not abandon us who sincerely call upon him, seeking a more just and freer homeland for all who inhabit it." We publish below the full text of Msgr. Chow's Easter message.

“And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26)

“Slow of heart to believe” in the joy of Easter makes us slow to have hope. Christ Jesus has overcome the seemingly inevitable grip of death. His resurrection assures us the confidence that death does not and cannot have the final say. For Easter means that ‘nothing will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 8: 31-39). Hence, our hope has its foundation in the amazing love of God manifested in the risen Lord for all walks of life in this world. 

What is advisable is not to allow hardship or evil thoughts to corrupt our hearts or crush our spirits, lest we could become agents of death. What is called for is “a positive and life-giving culture” that enables us to face hardships in life in some constructive and sustainable ways. Moreover, we need a positive culture so to become incubators of hope and transformation.

It is a fact that many people in Hong Kong are still struggling for hope amid their ongoing suffering. As the economy has just begun to pick up, many people struggling at the lower socioeconomic strata still need assistance and the psychological boost from their social communities and “neighbours”. These individuals should not be perceived as burdens of society but as intermediaries of heavenly blessings on those who come to their aid. 

So, for those who do not need their consumer vouchers, there are those whose spirit will be lifted by the generous sharing of their few thousand dollars. Imagine how much consolation, confidence and hope their sharing can make possible for the ones in need of those extra dollars. God has emptied Himself for us so that we can be eternally consoled in His name and love. 

From news reports published in last December, there were around 6,000 arrests due to the violent outbreaks in 2019. They are waiting to see whether the police will charge them or not. When will they see the light? Charge or no charge, they will be signs showing them how to move on. Waiting endlessly will not help them or our society to move toward healing. Some may want to seek justice through retributive means. However, it is through compassion and leniency on lighter offences that can give hope and positive energy to our wounded community. We have seen how hatred and violence have brought the stench of death to our beloved Hong Kong. Now, we should lean on compassion and magnanimity to reinforce the fragrance of life in our recovering Hong Kong.

Caring for the elderly, especially those “left behind” or living alone must be a priority. Connecting with those who care about them will enable them to feel a deeper sense of generativity for others, being appreciated by others, and being connected with the youth, the extension of their future. All these will contribute to a better sense of connectedness and hope, and the meaning of life. It should not be surprising that youth and the elderly are better fit for each other than the other age groups for them.

We have been bidding farewell to many friends and family members who have left or decided to leave Hong Kong for their aspirations. While we wish them all the best, their departure has created noticeable voids in different layers of our social fabric that are not easy to fill. And we do not know when those voids will be filled. But we can be hopeful that our God, who has bestowed His blessings over Hong Kong throughout our history, will not abandon us who call upon Him sincerely, seeking for a fairer and freer homeland for everyone dwelling in it.

Finally, we are living in an anxious and messy world dominated by an entrenched political mentality through power plays, bullying, accusations, threats and sanctions, etc. We desire a new world with level playing fields, empathy and respect, dialogic culture, loving kindness, unity in plurality, better distributions of resources, environmental consciousness, etc. Of course, we are not so naïve to expect dramatic positive changes, but incremental development with sincere and strategic efforts will be nice.

Our future generations need to have hope from us. We must make it possible for each other to have hope for a better future. Happy Easter to you all in Hong Kong and beyond! 

*Bishop of Hong Kong

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