"During a gathering last Saturday, I am so moved by our young faithful who expressed their views on our Church's participation in the society. Again, I am convinced that one of the necessary ways to resolve the current difficult situation in Hong Kong is the setting up of an 'independent commission of inquiry,'" he added.
In October, the legislature of Hong Kong completed the process of officially withdrawing a controversial extradition bill, which would have allowed the Chinese government to extradite alleged criminals from Hong Kong to the mainland to stand trial.
The impetus for the bill was a case involving a young Hong Kong man whom Taiwan requested be extradited for an alleged murder. Hong Kong previously has no formal extradition agreements with mainland China or Taiwan.
Christians and advocates widely opposed the bill, fearing that the Chinese government, which already seeks to control and suppress Chistianity on the mainland, would use it to further tighten its grip on free exercise of religion in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. Hong Kongers enjoy freedom of worship and evangelization, while in mainland China, by contrast, there is a long history of persecution for Christians who run afoul of the government.
An estimated 1 million protesters turned out at the first major demonstration June 6. Catholics have played a major role in the protests, which continued after the extradition bill was revoked, with protestors largely calling for Lam's resignation, more open elections in the region, and an investigation into police brutality allegations.
A former Anglican bishop is another signatory of the Dec. 31 letter, as well as John Bercow, the former speaker of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom, along with political leaders from across the globe.
Pope Francis has not yet commented on the situation in Hong Kong. On his traditional Christmas Day Urbi et Orbi blessing, Pope Francis made headlines for his omission of Hong Kong as a place of unrest in need of prayers.
In that blessing, Francis mentioned Venezuela, Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Syria, among other nations.