By Michael Swan
TORONTO, Canada, (The Catholic Register) – The power of prayer is being marshalled across Canada to call out abuse of power by China’s Communist Party in a national, ecumenical Zoom liturgy scheduled for March 21.
“We’re praying for human rights and civil liberties,” Jesuit Fr. Richard Soo told The Catholic Register. “You can include democracy in that, if you want. We’re certainly praying for the pro-democracy activists.”
The evening prayer event from 7-8 p.m. (Eastern) on Zoom is being sponsored by the Canadian Council of Churches.
Heavy-handed crackdowns on activists demanding democratic rights promised in the 1997 Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong, government interference and repression of Church activities on the mainland and the genocidal imprisonment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang Province are all reasons to pray, Soo said.
“As Catholics we are very aware of the persecution of the Catholic Church. We are very aware of clergy and lay people in prison,” the Byzantine-rite Ukrainian Catholic priest said. “We’re very aware of icons and crosses being removed from church buildings. We’re very aware that we’re not allowed to give catechism to anyone under the age of 18 — it’s illegal.”
Detention of approximately three million Uyghers in re-education camps, used as a pool of forced, cheap labour throughout China, is only one indication of what Christians and others will face under Beijing’s direct control of Hong Kong, said Soo.
In a non-binding vote in February, the Canadian Parliament voted 266-0 to declare treatment of Uyghers in China a genocide (prime minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet abstained from the vote).
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