The head of the Hong Kong Anglican Church drew flak for telling his flock to consider keeping silent rather than speaking up over the city's struggle for democracy.
The speech by Archbishop of Hong Kong and Macau the Most Reverend Paul Kwong didn't say his Christian followers should shut up no matter what. He merely said you don't need to speak up all the time; staying quiet could be just as - or even more - effective sometimes. He said: "Whenever people see me or other church leaders, they will say, 'We must speak up! Speak up at all times, on everything, understand? It is a must to fight.' Sometimes we don't have to say anything."
Actually, at least one Christian has acted quietly and with dignity: Cardinal John Tong of the Catholic diocese. What a contrast he is to his predecessor Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun! You don't see Tong marching around town to promote Occupy Central and encourage young people to take part in it.
But I am the first one to defend Zen's right to free speech. Zen should be allowed to speak up regardless of whether you agree with his message. If he has that right, everyone else has that right in Hong Kong.
Kwong has been accused of holding his views because he is a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. But there is a strong case to tone down and de-escalate - to have a dialogue, not a shouting match.
Oh, by the way, I am rather amused Zen called me a dog in his blog. I love dogs; I have six four-legged friends at home, not counting the cats.
"Every time I turn to the second page of a certain English daily, I see a hidden warning 'beware of the dog'," he wrote in his blog. "Not a few times I had to overcome the temptation of answering those high sounding platitudes! This time it is barking again at me (July 5). Poor guy, how can such a this-worldly man understand the father-son relation between Pope Francis and me?!"
He went on: "On the night of July 1, I stood at the finishing point of the march watching ... the arrival of the hundreds and thousands of Hong Kong 'children', they look tired but smiling, 'fanatically' finishing their Way of the Cross."
But Hong Kong is not being crucified. That's why I find Kwong quite brave speaking up for silence rather than loud confrontation.