"I am what I am. I am what I believe. I cannot change it. And if I can't change it, I have to accept my fate with praise."
Lai said his wife has always been a pious Catholic, and even before his conversion he always went to church with her. But in 1997, he realized that he needed the protection and help of a higher power. He was baptized and received into the Church by Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong has historically enjoyed freedom of religion, unlike mainland China, where religious believers of all stripes endure persecution. The Catholic Church in China has since 1951 been split between the so-called underground church, which is persecuted and loyal to Rome, and the state-sanctioned Chinese Patriotic Church.
Lai said China needs moral leadership from the Vatican, but he expressed disappointment in the Vatican's negotiations with CCP, particularly the Sept. 2018 agreement between the Vatican and the CCP on the appointment of bishops, which the two parties are expected to renew later this month.
Cardinal Zen recently traveled to the Vatican to ask Pope Francis not to renew the Vatican-China deal, but Pope Francis did not grant Zen an audience.
The Vatican's power is moral and virtuous rather than temporal, Lai said. The Vatican should uphold moral values when they need it the most, he added.
When the pope and the Vatican remain silent on the CCP's actions, "that is very disappointing, very damaging, for a world that looks up to the Vatican for their moral leadership."
Lai said in his opinion, the West erroneously thinks of China that "the richer they become, the more they will be like us."
But values are important, Lai said, and the CCP's behavior is threatening Christian values, extending their influence into international spheres like Hollywood and professional sports.
The COVID-19 pandemic, Lai said, is a "Pearl Harbor event" for the world, which ought to shake the world out of complacency.
"We should look at the facts. We should look at what they have done to the world, how they deal with the world," Lai said.
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"The issue we are facing now is: China is going to be the most powerful, economically, in the world. Now is the time for us to change China's attitude...otherwise they will change us to theirs."
Morality and values are where the CCP are most vulnerable, Lai said, because the CCP does not just want to eliminate God, they want to "be" God.
Chinese President Xi Jinping wants to be respected as all-powerful, and that is why the CCP seeks to control religion, he said.
That the CCP wants to supplant religion is a "moral perversion," Lai said, aiming to see people "suffer for [Jinping's] sins."
"Once you don't have a religion, you can easily be dictated by their order," he said.
Catholics have been strongly involved in pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which came to a head during summer 2019.