CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Who lit the fires that boiled the Mong Kok blood?

HONG KONG (SE): As the blood boiled in the veins of a group in Mong Kok on the evening of the Lunar New Year, February 8, the police arrested 70 or so people.

But Father Franco Mella asked at a Mass celebrated in Chater Road in Central on February 21, why does the government stop at demonising their behaviour without questioning its own role in lighting the fire that heated their blood to boiling point.

“Why is everything the fault of the people with the least; those at the bottom of the pile?” he queried.

“Why doesn’t the government and wider society ever ask themselves what they are doing to contribute to the frustration and anger that builds up in those who are suppressed and heats them until they explode?”

Speaking at a Mass sponsored by the Sunday night radio programme, The Hour of Love, which specifically targets shut-ins, those who are not allowed to leave the home and particularly people in prison, Father Mella said that we see people go to jail for misdemeanours, but then coming back again and again, often for more serious offences.

“But the system is stacked against them,” he said. “Although technically it offers a new beginning and another chance, this rarely if ever is the actual case. The opportunities are not there.”

With a bitter wind coming off Victoria Harbour blowing his vestments like the flags in the adjacent  Statue Square, the Italian priest from the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions stood in the shadow of the colonial-style Court of Final Appeal as he said, “This court has to change. This government has to change. This society has to change and ask itself what it is doing to the lives of people at the bottom of economic heap.”

Well known as a chronicler of life in the street, Father Mella said that when the cloud that enveloped the apostles at the Transfiguration lifted, it revealed the beauty of the truth and society needs to lift the cloud that envelopes its eyes and look at the truth of what is being done to its most vulnerable members—even if it is not so beautiful.


The Mass signalled the opening of a street fiesta sponsored by the Kabisig, a loose Filipino coalition of migrant groups dedicated to advocating for the rights of workers.

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