Chinese Catholics debate response to Olympic Games


Catholics and other Christians in China are considering how to respond to the Olympic Games.  While some Catholics are avoiding controversy altogether, some are uniting to protest the abuses of the Chinese government, according to UCA News. 

Father Dominic Chan Chi-Ming, the vicar-general of the Diocese of Hong Kong, told UCA News that the diocese is not planning any special activities for the torch relay or the Olympic Games unless the government requests their help.  However, he said that foreign athletes can attend English-language Masses in many parishes around the diocese.

One Hong Kong priest, who asked not to be named, told UCA News that area Catholics have different attitudes towards the Olympics.

“China hosting the Olympic Games makes all Chinese feel proud, but China has its deficiencies, such as arresting dissidents," he said. "This makes one sad."

He said his parish had not organized any activities related to the games.

"Organizing any activities for this purpose would upset some members," he said. "So we have just reminded the parishioners to do things according to their conscience."

The priest emphasized that disruptive attacks on the touring Olympic torch would be wrong, but “demonstrating peacefully should be acceptable.”

The Olympic torch will pass through Hong Kong on May 2, accompanied by 120 torchbearers.

Or Yan-Yan, who is the project officer of the Diocese of Hong Kong’s Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), told UCA News that the Tiananmen Mothers Campaign will stage a protest on May 2 to heighten public awareness about the June 4, 1989 government crackdown on student protesters at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.  The JPC is one of the local groups supporting the campaign, which demands that families of victims have the right to mourn their loved ones openly.

Or said people should support the Olympics, but she said the Games should be “a tool to promote human dignity, and the torch relay here aims to spread such spirit.”

Some local Protestants are lending their public support to the Olympic Games.  They have produced a video CD on the witness of Christian athletes, as well as an “Olympic edition” of the Gospel of Mark.  They have also scheduled prayer meetings, which they expect thousands to attend.

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