The cleric opined that that CCP will likely set its sights on controlling Christian schools in Hong Kong, in an attempt to control the minds of young people.
Hong Kong’s 2020 National Security law, which China imposed directly on the territory, has a clause that all students must be educated on the law, he noted. Many religious schools associated with parishes, and parishes, could be held accountable for what the school does if they do not comply with the National Security law, and parishes could be shut down as a result.
In terms of the impact that the suppression of Hong Kong Christianity could have on Christianity in China, Reverend L said he had many interactions with Christians in China before 2019. In fact, he said, Chinese Christian ministers would come to Hong Kong every summer to take theology courses. Due to the pandemic, they had been continuing that system using Zoom lately, but the CCP recently imposed restrictions on online religious instruction, whereby no one can disseminate info about religious ceremonies on the internet without a license, he said.
In mainland China, there exists an “underground” Catholic Church, which is persecuted and loyal to Rome. Government-approved Catholic churches, on the other hand, have comparatively more freedom of worship, but face other challenges, including pressure from the government to censor parts of Catholic teaching, while including Chinese nationalism and love for the party in preaching.
Reverend L said he fears that the Chinese government could set up a “Religious Affairs Bureau” in Hong Kong, similar to mainland China, and all ministers of religion would be required to register with the government. If that happens, he said, some Protestants will probably go “underground,” while some would cooperate with the government.
It’s much harder for Catholics to go underground, he explained, because you need an underground bishop and underground priests. Reverend L expressed doubt that the Vatican would be happy if the current Hong Kong bishop went underground.
Father Stephen Chow Sau-yan S.J. was consecrated as Hong Kong’s new bishop on Dec. 4. Hong Kong had previously been without a permanent bishop since 2019.
Reverend L concluded by calling on leaders to speak out about the eroding of freedom of religion in Hong Kong.
“The West should no longer turn a blind eye on the CCP for the sake of economic interests,” he said.
Jonah McKeown is a staff writer and podcast producer for Catholic News Agency. He holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and has worked as a writer, as a producer for public radio, and as a videographer. He is based in St. Louis.