|Police during Hong Kong protest in 2019
(Hong Kong—May 16, 2022) Since the implementation of the “Hong Kong National Security Law,” significant changes have taken place at all levels of Hong Kong society. Hong Kong has lost freedom of speech, publication, and assembly. In an interview with a radio station in the United States, a Catholic priest of the Hong Kong diocese expressed that Hong Kong’s religious sector will become the next target of the government’s suppression.
On April 22, Fr. Vincent Woo, a priest of the Hong Kong Diocese, who is currently studying for a master of Canon Law at the Catholic University of America, accepted an interview with the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), a Catholic cable television station in the United States. In his interview with the program “The World Over with Raymond Arroyo,” he highlighted the current threat to religious freedom in China and Hong Kong. He was particularly concerned about Hong Kong’s Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun and the founder of Apple Daily, Catholic Jimmy Lai Chee-Ying, who is currently in prison.
The interview discussed religion with “Chinese characteristics.” Fr. Vincent Woo believes that the Chinese government deliberately conflates the concepts of “inculturation” and “sinicization,” making the outside world think that the so-called religion with “Chinese characteristics” only meant having masses in mandarin and elements of Chinese culture. “Chinese characteristics” in turns the teachings of the gospels and the Bible in line with the ideology of Chinese socialist values, and religious leaders who are unwilling to cooperate will be eliminated. Fr. Vincent Woo specifically mentioned that on April 8, Hong Kong Rev. Garry Pang Moon-yuen was arrested for making comments on his YouTube channel. He indicated that Hong Kong lost its freedom of speech, publication, and assembly, and he warned that religious freedom would become the government’s next target
In conversation about the Chinese government’s persecution of the Catholic Church, Fr. Vincent Woo expressed that the underground Catholic Church has always maintained its allegiance to Rome, but after the signing of the provisional agreement between China and the Holy See regarding the appointment of Bishops, they felt deeply betrayed; including the Hong Kong Catholic Church, the younger generation of the Church felt deeply disappointed.
During the discussion of Ta Kung Pao’s naming and criticizing the emeritus Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun for using his clerical status to cause disruption in Hong Kong, Fr. Vicent Woo revealed that Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun was a teacher at his seminary; his courage, support for democracy and freedom, and Catholic faith inspired many young priests and believers.
Fr. Vincent Woo specifically mentioned Jimmy Lai Chee-Ying, a Catholic in prison. He believes that Li hopes to unite with the imprisoned protesters to face suffering. Li is willing to take up the cross and follow Jesus, and it is the spirit of the Catholic faith that made Jimmy Lai Chee-Ying understand the meaning of suffering.
At the end of the interview, host Raymond Arroyo asked if Fr. Vincent Woo was worried about his personal safety after giving such a high-profile interview with the media. To which Fr. Vincent Woo responded that he is one of the few people in the Hong Kong diocese who still has room to do something while overseas. He expressed:
I think it is my responsibility to do this, and when I die to face God’s judgment, I would need to explain why on April 22 (the day of the interview), I didn’t speak up for those who are silenced. I do not have a choice. I have to do this.
In 1984, Father Vincent Woo was born into a Catholic family in Hong Kong. He is a priest of the Diocese of Hong Kong. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a master’s degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
~Gao Zhensai, Special Correspondent of ChinaAid
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