CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Friday, 6 September 2019

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Calls for cooling off period at candlelight rally

HONG KONG (SE): Over 1,200 people marched from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Caine Road, to the Court of Final Appeal, Central, on August 8 in a candlelight rally to pray for justice and peace in society amid the present crisis in Hong Kong caused by the now-suspended extradition bill.
 
In a gathering outside the Court of Final Appeal, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing said the rally showed the Church’s belief in the importance of making demands in a peaceful way, which is significant in the present situation as clashes with the police on streets have become more and more intense. He called for a cooling-off period of at least two to three months as a solution cannot emerge within the city in its present emotional state. 
 
“What will happen after the cooling-off period? What will happen after we make our demands in a rational and peaceful way? I don’t know. But I only know that it is the way Christians should use. In this way, God will be with us and with Hong Kong people!” he said.
 
The procession kicked off with a prayer service led by vicar general, Father Dominic Chan Chi-ming, outside the cathedral in which he prayed that the candles would light up the dark area in our hearts occupied by hatred and anger.
 
He warned that a candle sacrifices itself to bring light to others due to love, but its fire can brings damage to others if it is too strong. He led those present in praying that they might be instruments of peace and justice.
 
Led by a wooden cross and with electronic candles in hand, participants processed along the busy streets of Central while singing hymns.
 
The rally was organised by the Justice and Peace Commission, the Diocesan Youth Commission, the Hong Kong Federation of Catholic Students as well as the social concern group of the St. Benedict Church, Shatin.  
 
A statement issued by the Justice and Peace Commission said the rally was meant to show the Church’s determination to seek justice. It was especially concerned that the violent crackdowns on protesters by the police, with excessive use of teargas and rubber bullets in the recent two months, has caused a reciprocal escalation of the violence by protesters. It also criticised the police for unreasonable arrests of residents and passers-by in protest areas.
 
It restated its demand for the government to officially withdraw the bill, set up an independent inquiry committee to look at the truth behind the protesters’ clashes with the police and launch political reform to set up a democratic legislature, which it believes is the real way to solve the conflicts in society.
 
Savio Chan said he joined the rally because he trusted that it would be a peaceful one, which has been hard to find over the past two months. He said the political conflict had affected his life it was hard for him to express an unbaised view, especially his sympathy with the police, for fear that it would offend others. 
 
Josephine Chung, another participant, said the recent clashes betweem protesters and police made her feel emotionally-disturbed. She felt that Hong Kong was no longer a peaceful place and it was hard for her to laugh about anything.

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