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The election and faith formation

The Legislative Council (LegCo) election on September 4 saw a record high of 2.2 million cast a vote in the highest turnout since the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997, reflecting an enthusiastic concern for social affairs and the political future of Hong Kong.

One-third of those elected to the LegCo are new faces, including candidates campaigning for localism and self-determination. The fresh blood has abandoned the old style advocacy and managed to break the political mould.

Their election reflects the hope for change in the community and has generated many self-initiated civic movements with the participants joining debates on policy in a different way from the top-down style of traditional politics, showing that civic society is seeking new ways to build itself.

But there is also concern over threatened violence prior to and after the election. One candidate claimed to be pressured into pulling out and another’s life has been threatened.

But has the Church been inspired? The participation-oriented social action model implies a deep desire for development, but it needs fresh input, because young people learned the action-reflection model in the Universal Election Seminars in which the Church took part prior to the Umbrella Movement.

The change in attitude comes as a result of the impact on young people the contemporary social transformation has had. The Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World of Vatican II (Gaudium et Spes) identified signs of the times, pointing out that change in thinking and social systems have often led to bewilderment, particularly among young people.

It says, “… young people, who have grown impatient on more than one occasion, (and) indeed become rebels in their distress. Aware of their own influence in the life of society, they want a part in it sooner. This frequently causes parents and educators to experience greater difficulties day by day in discharging their tasks” (7).

In the face of social change, it asserts the formative role of the Church, affirming that “by preaching the truths of the gospel, and bringing to bear on all fields of human endeavour the light of her doctrine and of a Christian witness, she respects and fosters the political freedom and responsibility of citizens” (76). At present, setting an example depends on the possibility of walking together.

The mass movement of the new generations has not overlooked justice, so amidst social issues, like land development and retirement protection, the Church must inspire young people to show more concern for the most neglected.

In the protection of the common good, civic society attaches importance to LegCo’s veto power. However, in view of the widening rich-poor gap, legislators have a greater responsibility to urge the government to use resources to raise the situation of the poor.

Although private bills in the LegCo are not binding and the separate voting mechanism can easily dismiss anything related to livelihood, legislators still can promote the common good by monitoring the implementation of policies and leading public discussions.

Through formation, the Church can inject an enthusiasm into its parishioners and indirectly urge politicians to respond to the voices that care for the weakest in society. SE