HONG KONG: (Australaisa) — On Wednesday morning, 19 October, 2011, at the door of the Salesian Missionary House, Shau Kei Wan (Hong Kong), Cardinal Joseph Zen SDB. began a 3 day and night abstention from food. Cardinal Zen is doing this to express his grief at a grievous wound inflicted recently on Hong Kong’s education system. Last week, Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal rejected the appeal filed by the Catholic Church against the Amended Education Ordinance 2004.
The Amended Ordinance effectively withdraws all Hong Kong’s Church-run schools from the control of the religious school-sponsoring body to hand over control to an Incorporated Management Committee answerable directly only to the Government. In this way, one of Hong Kong’s most precious features comes to an end, namely, the active and trusting collaboration between Government and Churches in the promotion of the holistic education of the young.
Before beginning his fast, the Cardinal gave a press-conference to the Hong Kong press to explain the reasons for his grief. Towards the beginning of his presentation, he said: “I owe thisto the many friends who supported our action over these years, especially those who rendered legal service to us on a voluntary basis and those who are ready to share our financial burden. I owe this also to many, specially missionaries, who, in very difficult times, have dedicated their life to education in Hong Kong and have left such precious legacy to us for safe-keeping.”
He concluded with his dramatic move thus: “Dear friends, the decision of the Court of Final Appeal is final. So we will not be given further chance to clarify anything in Court. We regret that our claim has not been recognised. We grieve, but we do not despair. God is the Lord of history. We throw all our worries on him. He takes care of us. May He grant that, through support to our educational ideal by our Catholic and non-Catholic friends, a truly Catholic education can still be offered in the schools which bear the name ‘Catholic’, so that the young people may understand and pursue the real goal of human existence and contribute to a happy and meaningful life for everybody in society. I am ready to answer two or three questions. After that, to show my grief, I will, for 3 days and 3 nights, abstain from food, excepting water and Holy Communion. I do not want anybody to join this expression of grief of mine, but I would be grateful for spiritual accompaniment through prayer in these days.”