[Anglican Communion News Service] The following is a statement from Archbishop Paul Kwong of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (Anglican Church of Hong Kong) on the Occupy protests.
Many people have asked me about the present situation in Hong Kong, which has drawn the attention of people on the mainland and all over the world. As the situation continues to change and develop, I wish to respond in the following statement:
The past few weeks have been times of turbulence and unease in our city. The Occupy Central movement has revealed the increasing polarisation in our society in terms of ideas about political reform, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the position of Hong Kong in China and the world. Student groups in the Occupy movement are pressing for what they see as the need for more democracy and challenging the nomination process that has been laid down in the electoral framework for our Chief Executive Election in 2017.
The government says there can be no change in the National People’s Congress decision on the election procedures. Men and women from all walks of life have taken different standpoints on the Occupy movement as communities, families, schools, and churches become increasingly divided over claims and counter-claims that have been made.
Many people have been inconvenienced by what is happening on the streets, and although the number of protesters has decreased over the past week, the conflict has not been resolved. Events continue to unfold, and we are following the situation closely.
We are deeply saddened and distressed by the increasing social conflict. Fortunately, the violent confrontations and use of tear gas on the first night of the protest have not been repeated, and both the demonstrators and the police have been able to keep the peace. The police have been able to remove some of the barricades from the roads peacefully.
In order to engage in real dialogue, we need to develop greater trust in one another. However this is not yet happening. Our clergy and laity, and all people in Hong Kong share the gravity of the situation, and acknowledge the present ordeal as an extraordinarily difficult time of trial. We will face a situation of deep internal conflict and division for a long time to come.
The Church is called to a ministry of reconciliation and pastoral care for all. In this time of uncertainty, we open ourselves to our community, as we seek to promote mutual understanding in the spirit of dialogue through both a recognition of differences and a commitment to the common good. We seek to provide care for those who suffer injury in their spirit. We extend our love and prayers for those who take part in demonstrations, for those entrusted with maintaining public order, and for those who hold government office. We offer our unreserved assistance to those who are in need of support, as we recommit ourselves to working for peace and concord of the society of Hong Kong.
The Prophet Jeremiah writes, “But seek the welfare of this city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare, you will find your welfare.”
Let us work together for this territory and for our country as we seek to understand one another and resolve our differences.