In an exclusive interview with Vatican Radio, the Apostolic Administrator of Hong Kong, Cardinal John Tong, lays out his hopes for the people of his city.
The full text of the interview is below:
Cardinal Tong: In a recent radio program in Hong Kong, I shared my thoughts and prayers with the people in Hong Kong. Even today, I am deeply saddened by the unrest in Hong Kong, which shows little signs of easing, but tensions continue to mount. I had three points to make:
First, hope over despair: I am not a politician myself. I can by no means offer here any resolution to resolve the crisis. What is happening now seems impossible to explain with common rationality. But I trust God will accompany us through these difficult moments.
Over the past months, many Catholic faithful have asked me, “Besides prayer, what else can we do?”. Prayer is not meant to change others, but rather, as I believe, can convert our own hearts, enabling ourselves to face the crises and to find hope.
We can take a deep breath, recalling some depressed moments, and contemplate how we got through them and restored hope. Or, we can talk to some well-trusted friends. This may be a way of finding consolation that can guide us to move forward.
When our legitimate demands are not met, we may feel frustrated. But do not despair. Despair keeps a person from looking to the future, and it exhausts our lives.
Second, anger leads to hatred. Anger easily generates hatred. With hatred, the human capability to discern right and wrong will be lost, and one’s goodness of heart will diminish. Violence will be aroused.
I firmly believe that violence produces violence. Brutality definitely cannot resolve the current problems, but will only incite more risks and threats of harm, and cause deeper wounds. The prominent Indian Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela of South Africa adhered to the use of peaceful means to fight against tyranny, and they gained worldwide applause.
Third, harmony in differences. We have a Chinese saying that within the four seas all men and women are brothers and sisters. This concurs with the values of the Christian faith. As all peoples come from the same root, we are all human and have the same characteristics. We ought to act out of our conscience and respect one another. This is one of the key elements of the success of Hong Kong over the past years.
To restore harmony, a true and sincere response to public opinion is a good policy. The primary task of today is to rebuild trust between the government and the people, so that the cherished harmony in society can manifest itself once again.
Q: What path would you propose to the people of Hong Kong who are participating in the protests?
Cardinal Tong: Here are my words for the local people: the responsibility falls on all of us. Many youngsters appear to be anxious and worried due to the current social situation. I have heartfelt compassion for their anxiety. The social issues have made them perplexed and disillusioned. How can we help them come out of their disillusionment?
All sectors of society, including the government authorities, are shouldered with the responsibility to help them. I want to plead with the local government to really listen to the voice of the people of Hong Kong.
The law-enforcers must abide by the law, and must execute the law with their consciences. In this way, the trust and reverence between the authorities and the local people can then be rebuilt.
May God bless us all.