By Catholic News Service
HONG KONG (CNS) -- Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun joined about 100 Catholics praying for religious freedom and democracy in China while commemorating 17 years since the Tiananmen Square June 4th Massacre.
Cardinal Zen said people cannot forget the 1989 tragedy and should demand that Chinese authorities give a clear explanation, especially in accounting for the hundreds slaughtered, reported UCA News, an Asian church news agency based in Thailand.
The call for democracy and sacrifice had motivated him to spend six months each year in China educating new religious leaders, he said, referring to the time he spent teaching in major seminaries on the mainland from 1989 until 1996.
He expressed his belief that the same motivation "encouraged Hong Kong people to show their concern about state affairs and to commemorate those who were slaughtered in Tiananmen Square."
Participants at the prayer service organized by the Union of Hong Kong Catholic Organizations in Support of the Patriotic and Democratic Movement in China were commemorating the young people and others who were killed on June 4, 1989, when Chinese authorities used military force to suppress a student-led protest in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Protesters were calling for democracy and clean government in China.
"All they asked for was a clean government -- is that a sin?" The New York Times reported the cardinal as saying. "And what they wished for was a strong nation -- is that a sin? All we're doing is pursuing their aspirations."
The New York Times reported June 4 that Cardinal Zen said the economy has improved and that "some people have earned lots of money, but corruption abounds, the gap in wealth is huge, mines keep swallowing workers and fake milk powder and fake medicines are flooding the market -- is this considered an improvement?"
"If they had listened to the kind advice of the students and workers, would today's country be a better country?" he asked.
Participants at the Hong Kong service, which this year fell on the feast of Pentecost, stuck small crosses onto a large map of China to symbolize evangelization all over the country.
After the prayer meeting, Catholics marched to the nearby local government headquarters, alternating hymns and slogans that demanded a clear and public account of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
Tens of thousands of people in Hong Kong have gathered at Victoria Park for a candlelight vigil every June 4 to mark the June 4th Massacre.