CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Mass for peace in Yuen Long

HONG KONG (SE): Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing exhorted a jam-packed gathering at Ss. Peter and Paul Church, Yuen Long, to always remember the peace given by Jesus Christ in times of unrest, even as the crisis in Hong Kong continues. 
He concelebrated a Mass for peace on July 26, together with Father Gervais Baudry, the parish priest; Father Blaise Cooray; and Father Joseph Liu Ah-lun; following the shocking, indiscriminate violence by a white-clad mob at the Yuen Long MTR station on the night of July 21 left at least 45 people injured (Sunday Examiner, July 28). 
The parish also offered the sacrament of reconciliation and counselling services for people who were traumatised in the wake of the violence. 
The Mass was followed by Eucharistic adoration lasting until the next day, July 27, when a protest against the violence of the weekend before had been scheduled. 
Acknowledging the anxieties over the outcome of the protest, Bishop Ha called on people to remember the ordeal of the Jesus’ disciples at the Last Supper. Jesus knew that they would be in distress in his absence, which was why he promised to give them his peace.
The bishop said the peace of Jesus in our hearts is different from the superficial and temporary peace built up by military force or power, although this sort of peace and order should also be maintained, which was why the Yuen Long residents called for the protection of the police before the armed attacks on July 21.
Bishop Ha said the peace of Jesus comes from the love of God. Peace gives us dignity and conscience. It enables us to differentiate right from wrong.
He said people of conscience were angered seeing the attacks in the station and on the train as it was obviously wrong. Even some of the civil servants had aired their frustrations with the Hong Kong government.
The bishop said peace could also empower people in the face of pains and unhappiness. He urged people to rely on Jesus who overcame even death.
He said the sacrament of reconciliation is meant to offer this peace from God. He also announced that the parish would be a place of refuge for those seeking peace and spiritual accompaniment the next day.
Apart from Ss. Peter and Paul Church, Holy Redeemer Church, in Tuen Mun, as well as St. Jerome’s Church, in Tin Shui Wai, were also opened as rest and refuge stations on July 27.
Tens of thousands of people spontaneously came to Yuen Long to march in protest on July 27 despite the police not granting a letter of no objection to the organiser.
At around 5.00pm, police fired teargas, pepper spray and rubber bullets in an attempt to disperse the crowd. 
There were also clashes in Yuen Long MTR station as riot police chased down protesters as well as journalists and hit them with batons. 
According to a report in the South China Morning Post, a superintendent later said that officers entered the station to catch protesters who threw fire extinguishers from the bridge of the West Rail line at officers on the ground.
According to the Hong Kong Hospital Authority, 23 people had been sent to hospitals, with five in serious condition. Police arrested 12 people in connection with the clashes.
An assembly was also held in Chater Garden on July 28 to denounce the use of excessive force by the police in Sheung Wan on July 21 (Sunday Examiner, July 28). People started to leave the assembly around 3.00pm to protest in Wanchai, Causeway Bay and Sheung Wan despite the opposition of the police. 
Battles between protesters and the police lasted for six hours in Sheung Wan.
On July 29, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs office, spoke officially on the matter—the first time it has held such a press conference since the 1997 handover— putting their support behind Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam Yuet-ngor, and the police.
Spokesperson, Xu Luying, however, acknowledged that “There are many deep-rooted problems, such as young people’s mobility and housing problems. It’s very complicated, and multilayered.”
Another spokesperson, Yang Guang, said, “‘One country, two systems’ is the best way to govern Hong Kong, the central government will not change the direction of ‘one country, two systems’.”

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