In a July 5 address given at the Vatican, Pope Francis did not deliver prepared remarks expressing concern over the new national security law enacted recently in Hong Kong.
In advance of the speech, journalists had received a copy of the remarks prepared for the pope to give in the address. The pre-written remarks included a section on the situation in Hong Kong.
The new law was enacted on June 30, bucking Beijing's standard procedure for passage of bills and enacting of new laws. It cracks down on human rights in Hong Kong and imposes strict Chinese control over the territory. The law appears to be a response to growing pro-democracy activism and speech in Hong Kong.
Blogger Marco Tosatti received a copy of the pope's prepared remarks. He said when the time for the speech arrived, journalists were told Francis would not be making the comments about Hong Kong. Tosatti published a copy of the planned remarks on his blog.
Translated into English, the original remarks read:
"Recently, I have followed with particular attention and not without concern the development of the complex situation in Hong Kong, and I wish to show above all my heartfelt closeness to all the inhabitants of that territory. In the current context, the issues addressed are undoubtedly delicate and affect everyone's life; therefore it is understandable that there is a marked sensitivity in this regard. I hope therefore that all the people involved will know how to face the various problems with a spirit of far-sighted wisdom and authentic dialogue. This requires courage, humility, non-violence, and respect for the dignity and rights of all. I thus express the desire that societal freedom, and especially religious freedom, be expressed in full and true liberty, as indeed various international documents provide for it. I accompany with my constant prayer the entire Catholic community and all people of good will in Hong Kong."
The Vatican has not explained why the Hong Kong remarks were eliminated.
Tosatti's blog post wonders "what sort of pressure Beijing put on the Pope so that he would not speak on world television about the drama of the former British colony, even in the most delicate and peaceful tones possible."
🔦 A 2018 agreement between the Vatican and the Communist Party of China handed Chinese officials authority to appoint Catholic Bishops in China. The Vatican officially recognizes these communist-appointed leaders as bishops in the Catholic Church.