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Hong Kong warns priests over content of sermons

News source has it that Catholic priests in Hong Kong have been warned over the content of their sermons after the implementation of the National Security Law. 

The Tablet reports that Cardinal John Hong Ton has written to priests asking that they refrain from “instigating hatred and social disorder”. 

Sermons should not “lose touch” with the “concrete situation of society”, the Cardinal wrote, but they should also not “convey the preacher’s personal views (such as his own view on a social or political issue) but God’s message”. 

He added that

“In a critical time like today, our faithful are hoping to hear something comforting, constructive and encouraging from the preachers during the liturgy,”. 

Cardinal John Hong Ton

The stance differs from that of emeritus Bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Zen, who

said he would continue to speak up despite the risk of imprisonment. 

The 88-year-old said in a video posted to his Facebook page that Hong Kong must “be prepared for the unthinkable” after Beijing imposed sweeping new laws cracking down on free speech and dissent in the region. 

“I shall be prudent; I do not seek to offend, but when I deem it necessary, I will say it,” said the cardinal, who is an outspoken critic of China.

“If such right and proper words are considered to be against their law, I will endure all the suing, trials and arrests. Numerous predecessors have endured similarly.  We have seen how God has always helped them.”

Cardinal Zen

The national security law came into force on July 1, the 23rd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from Britain in 1997.

Under the law, supposed acts of subversion, secession, terrorism, or foreign interference can now be tried by a special agency set up by Beijing. 

The cardinal continued: “To implement this national security law, it’s not very sensible of them [the Chinese Communist Party, CCP].

“They won’t benefit from destroying Hong Kong.

“Perhaps they are truly insane. Who knows? Let them be then. Isn’t there a saying, ‘Those whom God wishes to destroy, he first makes mad’?”

Cardinal Zen

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called the passing of the law a “clear and serious breach” of the 1985 Sino-British joint declaration protecting certain freedoms for the first 50 years after the handover.

In the Commons on Tuesday, he repeated Britain’s offer of citizenship for Hong Kongers. 

“It violates Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and threatens the freedoms and rights protected by the joint declaration,” he said.

International Christian Concern has said it fears for the fate of clergy and Christians under the new law. 

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, condemned the imposition of the law, saying that it “strips away the autonomy and freedoms of Hong Kong”.

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Written by Victor Ekong