Bishops Call for Solidarity After Manila Hostage Crisis

Hong Kong Bishop Urges Forgiveness, Healing

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HONG KONG, SEPT. 6, 2010 (Zenit.org).- As relations between the governments and people of Hong Kong and the Philippines show signs of tension after eight Hong Kong tourists were killed Aug. 23 in the Philippine capital of Manila, the Catholic bishops of the two cities are calling for solidarity.

The incident began in Manila when Rolando Mendoza, a recently fired police officer, hijacked a bus with 22 Hong Kong tourists and three Filipinos on board.

After 12-hours of negotiations, which was broadcast live throughout the world, Mendoza and eight Hong Kong tourists died during a rescue attempt that has been characterized in the Hong Kong media as «incompetent» and «bungled.»

At a memorial mass for the deceased Aug. 29 in Hong Kong, Bishop John Tong prayed that “while all of us in the city show our compassion for the broken-hearted, our emotion or sentiments would not overshadow our reason, and would avoid any irrational response toward a whole nation of people”.

The bishop of Hong Kong was making reference to several reported anti-Filipino incidents directed toward migrant Filipino workers in Hong Kong, including the firing of two domestic workers.

“While we grieve for their loss, let us be united in their honor. Let us draw strength and courage from one another,” Bishop Tong told a congregation composed of Filipinos and Chinese Catholics in the city. “Let our two cultures embrace each other in forgiveness and let us ask our Lord to heal us and to heal our lands.”
 
The chief executive of Hong Kong, Donald Tsang, and the Philippine Consul General in Hong Kong, Claro Cristobal, attended the mass.

Last Tuesday, the Church leaders in Manila offered a mass for the victims on the hostage site. At the mass, Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila called the incident as a “very bad event seen all over the world as the tragic drama unfolded before the eyes of cameras for 11 hours.”

“Not only the Chinese are calling for a just and swift investigation of this case,” Bishop Pabillo said. “We Filipinos demand the same from our officials. Bring out the truth; let those responsible, whoever they maybe, be held accountable. No whitewash! No scapegoats!”

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