At a press conference held on June 25 that was focused on the Vatican’s upcoming Day of Prayer and Reflection for Lebanon, The Epoch Times asked British Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Holy See’s secretary for relations with states (equivalent to a foreign minister) to comment on similar unrest in Hong Kong.
The Epoch Times asked, “With the financial and political upheaval—and especially the popular unrest against political corruption we have seen in Lebanon and the greater region—what makes this situation different to the Holy See and the Secretariat of State (outside, of course, the strategic location) from the popular uprisings in Hong Kong—where Catholic leaders have been incarcerated, and a request for support has been personally brought by Cardinal Joseph Zen over two years ago?”
The English archbishop responded, “Well, obviously Hong Kong is an object of concern for us. Lebanon is a place where we perceive that we can make a positive contribution. We do not perceive that in Hong Kong. One can say a lot of, say, appropriate words that would be appreciated by the international press, by many countries in the world, but I—and I think many of my colleagues—are yet to be convinced that it would make any difference whatever.
“I think that here [in Lebanon] we have an opportunity, but in Hong Kong, we have a very different situation altogether.”
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni added, “Remaining open, of course, to the workings of the Holy Spirit.”
Gallagher nodded in agreement and said, “Yes, and we hope that the new bishop will do a lot of good work there as well. Thank you.”
Since the renewal of the Sino–Vatican agreement last October, Pope Francis—who has been extremely outspoken on other human rights and ecological crises—has been silent on China and Hong Kong. The Chinese Communist Party’s brutality and human rights violations both in mainland China and in Hong Kong have caused world leaders such as former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to call for the Vatican to end its “preliminary” deal with China.
Pompeo stated in a series of tweets in September 2020, shortly before the agreement was set to be renewed, that “the Vatican endangers its moral authority, should it renew the deal. … Catholics are among Hong Kong’s strongest voice for human rights, including Martin Lee and Jimmy Lai. … The Vatican should stand with fellow Catholics and the people of Hong Kong.”
The Vatican announced last week that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be meeting with Pope Francis along with Gallagher and other Vatican officials on June 28. It isn’t known whether China will be a topic of the meetings.