It is a right approach for the Vatican not to speak out over the Hong Kong democracy movement as “grandstanding” statements will not produce a positive change, according to Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States.
Unlike in the cases of Hong Kong and the Uighurs, Pope Francis
has spoken out strongly on the repression of democracy in Myanmar, which he visited in November 2017.
During an interview, Archbishop Gallagher responded to criticism of the Vatican not speaking out against China’s restrictions on religious freedom and its repression of the Uighurs in Xinjiang Province as well as the democracy movement in Hong Kong.
“I think you will find it true that the Holy See does not have a policy, a diplomatic policy, of denunciation almost anywhere in the world,” Archbishop Gallagher said, “and there are human rights abuses in many, many countries.”
While referring to the Vatican’s silence on Hong Kong, the archbishop asserted tha the Catholic community in Hong Kong is significantly divided on the policy.
“There are, you might say, Beijing loyalists on one side and then there are people who would like greater freedom and greater exceptions for Hong Kong. We try to work with the local church and do what we can in that way,” the Archbishop said.
“Again, I don’t think that ‘grandstanding’ statements can be terribly effective,” he added.
“I think you have to ask what effect [a statement] is going to have? Is it going to produce a positive change, or does it make the situation more complicated for the local church and for relations with the Holy See? At the moment, we feel that’s the right approach.”