Its “Freedom in the World 2020” report found that political rights and civil liberties had deteriorated worldwide for a 14th year in succession.
Among the territories highlighted in the study was Hong Kong. In recent months, Western governments have accused China of undermining the territory’s democratic system.
Under a “national security” law that came into force last summer, a number of local Catholics have been arrested and charged with terrorism, sedition, and foreign collusion.
Pope Francis has not addressed the situation publicly.
The Standard, an English-language newspaper in Hong Kong, said last month that Vatican Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher had defended the Holy See’s approach.
It quoted the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States as saying that, concerning Hong Kong, “I don’t think that ‘grandstanding’ statements can be terribly effective.”
“I think you have to ask what effect [a statement] is going to have? Is it going to produce a positive change, or does it make the situation more complicated for the local Church and for relations with the Holy See? At the moment, we feel that’s the right approach,” Gallagher reportedly said.
Commenting on the pope's prayer intention for April, Fr. Fréderic Fornos, S.J., international director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, said: “It’s not the first time that Pope Francis has insisted on the importance of people’s fundamental rights.”
“In his latest encyclical, Fratelli tutti, he denounced the fact that ‘While one part of humanity lives in opulence, another part sees its own dignity denied, scorned or trampled upon, and its fundamental rights discarded or violated.’”
“Pope Francis asks us this month to pray for ‘those who risk their lives while fighting for fundamental rights under dictatorships, authoritarian regimes and even in democracies in crisis.’”
“It’s an invitation to remember those men and women, in so many countries of the world, who continue to be in prison or in dangerous situations, or who have lost their life, and many of them in the name of their faith in Jesus Christ. Let us not forget them; let us pray for them.”
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