Sydney bishop responds to Hong Kong Catholic concern on religious freedom
Parramatta Bishop Kevin Manning has made a submission expressing "grave concern" to the Australian Government's Inquiry into Australia's Human Rights Dialogue Process following recent moves by the Hong Kong government to exert control over Catholic schools.
Bishop Manning quotes the assessment of observers that "current moves to reduce the involvement of the sponsoring bodies, or owners of schools, in the management of schools have their roots in a 'conspiracy' that began immediately after the handover" of Hong Kong in 1997 to the Communist Central Government in Beijing.
These reforms are seen as a way of effectively taking over the church schools," claim the observers.
Bishop Manning sayd Church and other independent schools in Hong Kong are a source of values education and connection with international thinking which does not always sit well with the Central government.
Experience in other parts of Asia, he said, has shown that taking control of the Catholic schools is an effective way of hindering religious education and limiting the 'reach' of the church in the broader community."
Bishop Manning is suggesting to the Australian government that it would be helpful if this "human rights" issue could be raised in the next round of the Australia-China Human Rights Dialogue.
Bishop Manning notes that Parramatta Diocese is home to a significant number of Chinese migrants and Australians of Chinese descent. Their ancestral places include many different parts of China, as well as Hong Kong. He states that "the impact of the 'one country, two systems' approach on freedom of religion in Hong Kong" is an important issue at this time and that the emerging issue of the control of non government schools in Hong Kong is a significant human rights matter requiring urgent attention."
Hong Kong's Church schools put on the international human rights agenda (Hong Kong Sunday Examiner 11/7/04)
China Rejects Hong Kong Push for Democracy (The Guardian/Associated Press 3/7/04)
Monsignor Zen: We Christians, Democrats, and Lovers of China (AsiaNews.it 2/7/04)
Hong Kong Catholics Fear New Law May Destroy Education System (Zenit 9/7/04)
16 Jul 2004