Hong Kong: half a million protest for religious freedom

 More than 500,000 people took to the streets of Hong Kong yesterday, to protest at proposed anti-subversion laws which could make much religious practice illegal. "There have not been so many people on the streets since the times of the reaction to the Tiananmen massacre: it is a historic day for Hong Kong" Fr Gianni Criveller, from the Pontifical Foreign Missions (PIME), told the Missionary News Service. The new law, Article 23, is expected to be ratified on 8 July. Fr Gianni said the crowds greatly exceeded all expectations. Members of Christian churches marched alongside adherents of the Falun Gong spiritual group. Fr Gianni said: "All the parishes of the city brought their parishioners to Victoria Park, where Bishop Joseph Zen celebrated Mass, there were thousands". This was the first time that the local Catholics participate in an open air Mass presided by the head of the diocese. Fr Gianni said the the new bill threatens all religious organisations, including the underground Christian Church and Falun Gong. He said he did not think the new law would immediately be enforced against churches but that it could be dangerous in future - if the style of government in mainland China - where thousands of people have been imprisoned for their faith - extends to Hong Kong. While thousands marched in the streets, Fr Gianni said many more people waved gestures of solidarity from windows and buses. While Hong Kong is not a democracy, Fr Gianni said, "it is clearly a place where the people are used to their freedom of opinion." Source: MISNA

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