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Hong Kong Catholic Church takes Govt to task over Falun Gong
    Fanning controversy over the Falun Gong, the local Catholic church has attacked Hong Kong's top security official for publicly criticising the spiritual group, which is banned on the Chinese mainland.
    An editorial carried by this week's edition of the Catholic weekly Kung Kao Po said recent comments by Security Secretary Regina Ip criticising the group may have defamed all religions.
    "We think it is inappropriate for the government to use its power to make any comment on religious affairs, or to differentiate religions into different categories," said Fr Louis Ha, editor of the Catholic publication.
    The Chinese government banned the popular Falun Gong movement in July 1999, branding it a public menace and threat to Communist Party rule. The ban doesn't apply to Hong Kong residents, who enjoy special freedoms under a "one country, two systems" arrangement governing the former British colony's July 1997 return to Chinese rule.
    The Hong Kong government, however, has recently begun speaking against Falun Gong, with Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa labeling the group a "cult" and Security Secretary Regina Ip calling it "devious."
    Local Catholic leaders have objected. The Kung Kao Pao commentary said Ip's criticisms, made during a discussion with lawmakers two weeks ago, "not only libeled Falun Gong, but may also have defamed all religions in the world."
    "If they start differentiating different religions as 'right' and 'wrong,' such judgments may gradually extend to other areas, such as the right arts, the right movies, and even right thinking," Ha said.