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I must leave a record for history says cardinal

HONG KONG (SE): “I must leave a record for history of our unchanged belief that the Education (Amendment) Ordinance 2004 has seriously damaged our right in the running of schools and is against the law and the Basic Law,” Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun told the media at a press conference on October 19 prior to beginning a three-day period of prayer and fasting.

Cardinal Zen lamented that that the ruling in the Court of Final Appeal has actually narrowed the definition of religion in relation to education and the claim of the court that being able to appoint 60 per cent of members to the Incorporated Management Committees in schools does not translate into the school sponsoring body’s ability to inspire life on campus with its mission and vision.

Cardinal Zen said that something precious has been lost both to Catholic education and to the whole of Hong Kong and three-day fast is his way of ensuring an historical record of how a jewel has been taken not just from Catholic education, but the whole of society.

He pointed out that although the Court of Final Appeal did recognise that a material change has been made to the relationship between sponsoring bodies and schools, the ruling tends to limit religious activity to prayer services and religion classes in its definition of what activities are not banned.

“It is both too little and too much,” the former bishop of Hong Kong said in a press statement.

“Too little because the content of moral education is far more important than some concrete religious activities (and) too much, because I doubt whether some examples mentioned by the court as not banned by the Amendment Ordinance, could be taken as obviously granted,” he explained.

He said that being able to nominate up to 60 per cent of the membership of the Incorporated Management Committees in schools does not translate into control by the sponsoring body, partly because the committee members represent their own views not those of the sponsoring body, and because in concrete terms, it is impossible to run a school if a committee becomes divided.

He also pointed out that the new ordinance has removed the most practical check and balance from the old system, the School Executive Committee, which had stood between the sponsoring body and the government and acted as an effective check on both sides.

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