Hong Kong bishops plea for an end to city’s violent political clashes

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Dear Citizens of Hong Kong, and Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

May the freedom and the peace of the Lord be always with you!Over the past five months, we have witnessed the seeds of hatred taking root in Hong Kong: confrontations, conflicts, insults, threats, brutality, abuses, terrorism, excuses, white terror, vigilante justice, etc., are terms that we see frequently in the media. Freedom from fear has become an unattainable luxury for Hong Kongers.

Every one of us yearns for freedom and peace, but in the face of the intense social conflicts and the level of rising anger, conducting rational dialogue has become difficult. Verbal attacks that deteriorate into armed conflict only give rise to more violence, causing deeper hatred and damage. To attain freedom and peace, we implore everybody to pause and give one another a moment of calmness to explore our future path. If you are a Christian, we hope that you can dispel the fear, anger and anxiety in your hearts through prayer, contemplation, and spiritual exercises.

First of all, no matter where you come from, whatever side, party, or team you belong to, please lay down your weapons, because they will only bring more pain.

Secondly, all verbal abuses, defamations, bullying, insults, condemnations, and irresponsible utterances should be stopped, because rather than putting an end to hatred, they will fuel its endless spread.

Thirdly, although we cannot stop others from circulating unverified or irrational stories, we can adopt a rational attitude in the face of those that breed discord and distrust, and stop forwarding them, especially when they have not been verified. When we forward messages, we have to understand that they will neither change another person’s views nor persuade them to join our side. Instead, they will destroy the trust between people and breed disharmony, confrontation, and division.

Lastly, for us Christians, freedom and peace in our Lord are our eternal pursuits. We should leave space to empty ourselves and repent before our Lord rather than harbour grudges, and let them lead us to offend or frame others. In the face of this violent world, anger is not out of the ordinary, but we must not let ourselves fall into the bottomless pit of hatred. When we cannot avoid the people or events that bring us anger, we have to pause and calm ourselves, then pray for these people and for God to comfort us and calm our anger. We need to learn to replace the old law of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” with the teaching of “forgive one another” from the New Testament. We need to understand that the Lord’s justice can only be fully manifest through His grace and not through the private settling of grudges. This is the only way for God’s freedom and peace to fill our hearts and descend upon earth.

“You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32; 16:33)

Once again, may the freedom and peace from the Lord be with you always.

20 October 2019