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  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 9:10am
Occupy Central
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Church leaders divided over 'Occupy Central' plan

Prominent cardinal urges Hongkongers to join mass protest in fight for universal suffrage while other pastors advise against civil disobedience

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 April, 2013, 5:18am

Local religious leaders have clashed over the Occupy Central movement in the battle for democracy, with one calling on Hongkongers to join in even as another argued against it.

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, 81, said at a Baptist University forum yesterday that he would encourage all Hong Kong people to take part in the plan, spearheaded by law academic Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming. The plan called for at least 10,000 people to block traffic in Central in July next year unless the government delivered an acceptable proposal for universal suffrage.

"Sometimes, we have to do things that can be useless … because miracles can happen if you try," Zen said.

Sometimes, we have to do things that can be useless … because miracles can happen if you try
Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun

Although he would be too busy to take an active role in the plan, Catholics should consider joining in to show their concern for the city, he said.

Zen's views contrasted with those of the Evangelical Free Church of China's Reverend Ng Chung-man, who was accused of twisting the words of the Bible after he wrote civil disobedience was not a biblical principle.

In the article, which appeared in his church's newsletter earlier this month, Ng wrote that while "some Christians are advocating … occupying Central to force the governments to give in to their demands … civil disobedience is acceptable biblically only … when people's rights to religion and to live are under threat". He stressed that believers ought to pray for those in authority, in "active subordination" to "relatively just governments".

Zen said he disagreed with Ng's views because "[the right] to live includes [the right] to live in a dignified manner as well as the right to democracy". "The Catholic Church agrees we have to co-operate with the government, but it also says, under extreme circumstances and in the face of a very wrong government, after peaceful means have completely failed … the people can even revolt," he said.

But Zen's endorsement of the movement also conflicted with the views of his successor, Cardinal John Tong Hon, who said last month he would not encourage followers to take part as communication was a better option.

Separately, at a forum co-hosted by the Church Renewal Movement, Tai said his movement was inspired by late United States civil rights leader Martin Luther King. "Churches were the powerhouse behind social reforms in the past," he said.

Dr Andrew Kwok Wai-luen, Baptist University's assistant professor of religion and philosophy, echoed Tai's view. "The Bible suggested that if our right to obey the greatest commandment - which is to love God … as well as our neighbours - and social justice were in crisis, we could consider undertaking an act of disobedience," he said.


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This just goes to show that religion main purpose is to control a population. It worked in ancient times and still works today. The interpretation of the religion is based on how its leader at the time wants to interpret it and then requires its followers to follow blindly. People should focus on learning and seeing more of the world themselves and then make decisions for themselves rather than abide to rules from a book(s) written centuries ago and then re-interpreted over and over again by those who hold power. Those "religious leaders" are no more wiser than you or me.
Joseph, you should spent more time thinking and doing something on why your Catholic Church harbour so many child molester and rapist.........
hard times !
the local church is divided over the Occupy plan can be expected since even Hongkongers are diviided over it with all the pan-democrat lawmakers back it while the pro-establishment and pro-Beijing loyalists against it. Anyway,judged from social justice and our pursuit of a geniune universal suffrage that suits the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights article 25(b) which states that in a universal suffrage,all people (qualified voters) enjoy the right to vote and to be voted.Evne in our Basic Law articles 26 and 39 which both state that in our universal suffrage,Hong Kong people have the right to vote and to run for office. So the 'Occupy Central' movement is a righteous act (which is the last resort) when we are denied our promised universal suffrage. Of course,people like Ms Chan Ching-sum will never understand what a 'universal suffrage' is as she even misunderstood that 'national security guards' who beat up Hongkong reporters in Beijing outside the residence of Ms Liu Xia (Lin Xiao-bo's wife ) are ' national treasure': giant pandas ! Maybe thery are as these guys/thugs safeguard the ruling regime's power to rule on Mainland and their fund even exceeds the national defence !
hard times !
when our right to live decently and the right to democracy is threatened,why can't we take part in a civil-disobedience movement such as the one advocated by Professor Tai Yiu-ting:'Occupy Central' ? I agree with cardinal Zen that all Catholics should seriously consider joining the peaceful gathering in Central though that might land them in jail ? Don't forget the early Christians were persecuted by Roman emperors by even death !
hard times !
if our neighbours and soical justice such as our promised universal suffrage are in crisis,we have to stage a civil-disobedience like the 'Occupy Central'movement in July 2014 which is a righteous and just act.See you all then ! Bye !
hard times !
Once Martin Luther King said, ' Churches were the powerhouse behind social reforms in the past.' and the Bible also suggested if our right to obey the greatest commandment which is to love God...as well as our neighbours...and social justice were in crisis, we could consider undertaking an act of disobedience.Now this 'Occupy Central' movement is definitely a civil-disobedience which aim is a peaceful gathering to occupy Central only when our Leung administration fails to offer us a geniune universal suffrage plan to be accomphished in 2017----it is the last resort of our pursuit of a true democracy indeed ! Take India's Gandhi as a good example ! Arise, those who don't want to be oppressed ! See you all in July 2014 in Central !
hard times !
the Pope in Vatican is only the spiritual leader of all Catholics in the world, he never interferes in the internal affairs of any Catholic countries such as France, Italy,Spain,Portugal or even the Philippines.Even the Catholic Church in Hong Kong has never intervened in local affairs except criticizing any unfair and injust incidents before and after the Handover in 1997,
Religion, especially Catholics, has no place in Politics and Government. Religion is the root cause of all these conflicts and wars, terrorism these days.
I am from Spain and I can confirm the Catholic Church and some former popes actually interfered in the 'internal affairs' of the country. Supporting a dictatorship until the 1970s was one of the ways in which they did so.
Chinese University journalism students explore divisions among different churches on political issues and gay rights:


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