The Hong Kong Celebrations Association announced that the 15th anniversary of the 1 July 1997 handover of the former colony from British to Chinese sovereignty will be marked with a three-day gala carnival of events.
However, while the announcement have been upbeat, its spirit did not seem to be reflected in the mood of the seven million-strong population of the Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. This year, July 1 sees a leadership change with both the outgoing and incoming chief executives at rock bottom in the opinion polls.
Catholic Priests from the Diocese of Hong Kong leads the prayer service for Hong Kong held at Victoria Park on 1 July 2012
Since the handover of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty 15 years ago, the economic and political situations have undergone tremendous change. Nevertheless, people have continued to upholding such core values as freedom of speech, human rights, rule of law, democracy, equality, peace, charity, integrity, transparency and professionalism.
While these are factors Hong Kong people take pride in, as they give stability to the city, they are also the spiritual values that maintain the principle of one country, two systems and a high degree of autonomy.
Catholic youth participating in the Prayers Service
at Victoria Park
at Victoria Park
In the past 15 years, although the region has coped with a financial crisis, a SARS epidemic and other unrest, ordinary people are still suffering from high inflation and excessively high property prices. Housing, medical care, food, transport and education are also worrying. Areas of big business have exacerbated people’s grievances by ignoring their social responsibilities, leading to social disharmony.
In February, the diocese issued a document entitled, Some Expectations about the Future SAR Government Envisioned by the Catholic Church in Hong Kong.
The document discusses political and social development, and reminds the government of the importance of people-oriented values and long-term policies. The statement seeks the protection of people’s livelihoods and dignity, as well as the creation of a society where people can freely express concern for each other.
On the occasion of the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty, Pope John Paul II wrote a letter to the diocese encouraging the Church to be part of “fostering religious, moral, cultural and social values… even more than before, to be in the midst of the Chinese nation the ‘city set on a hill’ and ‘the lamp on a stand’.”
Faith does not only urge us to think, but compels us to achieve “personal sanctification, sanctification of others and contribute to a better world” through action. May the Lord guide Hong Kong towards becoming a society of charity and justice so that peace will be present in the world