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Each week, we bring you compelling conversation with church leaders and laity. Today, host Rick Howick welcomes back one of our favorite guests, Daryl Sequeira. Daryl is the former ‘chair’ of the theology department at Servite High School in Anaheim. He currently serves in Catholic education in the state of Arizona.

Today’s episode will be a discussion on where we are as a society in 2020. There is so much that has come against Catholics and the church as a whole, so we’re going to dig in and talk about it.

Tune in for this very thoughtful discussion.





Originally broadcast on 7/4/20


Hong Kong, China, Aug 22, 2019 / 12:12 am (CNA) – As massive protests continue in Hong Kong, one student leader says Catholics have an important role to play in encouraging demonstrators to remain peaceful in asserting their demands.

“The protests last Sunday [were] very peaceful, peaceful protests. And very luckily, there were no major conflicts between the police and the protestors,” Edwin Chow, acting president of the Hong Kong Federation of Catholic Students, told CNA in an interview.

Despite the threat of violence from police and growing concern about a potential crackdown by Chinese authorities, an estimated 1.7 million people took to the streets of Hong Kong last Sunday for a largely peaceful demonstration in the pouring rain.

The largest protest has so far this year has been an estimated 2 million-strong crowd on June 6. At some of the protests, police and some protesters have resorted to violence.

“From June to the previous protest, almost every time, the police have used tear gas and bullets. But this time, for this weekend, actually the police did not use any tear gas and they didn’t have any serious clash between the protesters and the police,” Chow said.

Protesters continue to demonstrate against the use of excessive force by the police, as well as the potential for Hong Kong to begin extraditing suspected criminals to stand trial in mainland China.

The bill proposing extraditions to China, which was introduced in Hong Kong’s government in February, has been indefinitely suspended, but Christians in Hong Kong remain worried that the Chinese Communist government will continue to find ways to persecute those who are helping Christians in mainland China, where freedom of religion is severely restricted.

“The Chinese government is suppressing the Church in mainland China, and so we are worried that when we have communication with the mainland Church, maybe one day the Chinese government will also arrest the Hong Kong people to suppress Hong Kong people,” Chow said.

The apostolic administrator of Hong Kong, Cardinal John Tong, has asked the government to eliminate the extradition law completely, and for an independent inquiry into the excessive use of force by the Hong Kong police.

The Hong Kong Federation of Catholic Students organized members to attend the protest and also held a prayer meeting before Sunday’s march. Chow said many more protests are already planned for August, and early next month students are planning to “strike” on the first day of class.

“My class will start on the 2nd of September, but actually the student union, most of the university students, we are planning to have a strike on that day. That is a must, I think, this will happen. We will go on strike.”

Chow, a student studying Government and International Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University, told CNA last week that he would like to see Catholics and other Christians take on a larger role in ongoing protests against the government.

While Chow said that Christians, among them Catholics, had a more major role when the protests began— leading the singing of hymns such as “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord” in the streets during the protests, for example— their role has since diminished.

“It’s a good chance for us to become united. Because I think for most of the Catholics and Christians, we have the same values, the same goal…so that’s why we cooperate, and I think after Christians and Catholics cooperate, our strengths, our power becomes stronger,” he told CNA last week.

Chow said he believes the protestors are changing their tactics to try to be less disruptive. A number of protests held in the last few weeks in the city’s busy international airport caused a lot of noise and disruption, he said.

“So the protestors adjusted their strategy. They think that a peaceful protest maybe can gain more support. I think due to the previous clash, and too much violence, maybe we have lost some support, so we want to gain it again,” Chow explained.

“And also I think the main theme of the protests is…police violence; it’s hard to convince people that we are against violence when we use violence. So I think this is the main reason why this protest this weekend was [more] peaceful.”

Chow believes that Christians groups can play an important role in encouraging protestors to remain peaceful and not be carried away by emotion.

“For the Catholic groups, for the Christian groups, we have the responsibility and we have the power to calm our friends down. Because I think singing hymns, just in the beginning, it creates a peaceful atmosphere, and it has a power to keep everyone very calm. So I think we can use this when we do this again.”

Chow said there is an interesting protest set to take place this Friday, wherein protestors plan to form a human chain as part of the demonstration.

“This week, almost every day we have protests,” he said.

“For tomorrow, the secondary students also have their own protest, their own assembly…it’s a very busy month, very busy, these two months for Hong Kong people. Because actually, we almost protest every day.”

Chow said the Catholic clergy have been very supportive. The Federation invited bishop emeritus Cardinal Joseph Zen to celebrate Mass on June 16, in front of the government headquarters.

Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing has also been very active in going to the protest sites, supporting the young people, and vocally supporting the protestors. Bishop Ha took part in a continuous ecumenical prayer meeting outside the Legislative Council building with thousands of Christians overnight after one rally.

“Other ordinary Catholics, some of the older Catholics, they also join in our activities,” Chow said. “So you can see that not only the teenagers are supporting, participating in the whole protest, but the older people, some adults…they also join, they also support the whole protest.”

In the US, the Archdiocese of San Francisco Chinese Ministry and the Office of Human Life & Dignity are inviting the faithful to a prayer vigil for Hong Kong at 6:30 pm on August 26 at St. Anne of the Sunset Church in San Francisco. The service is set to include scripture readin


WASHINGTON (CNS) — High school students joining protests calling for stronger gun-control legislation since the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting shouldn’t worry that their participation will hurt their college admission, several Catholic colleges have said.

Statements on Twitter, school websites and blogs have assured high school seniors and future college applicants that they would not be adversely affected by joining in peaceful protests on this issue.

Many college statements went a step further by encouraging students to speak out.

Loyola University Chicago said in a Feb. 26 statement that the school is “deeply rooted in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition of social responsibility through critical thinking and informed actions. We encourage students to become engaged citizens who take seriously how they express themselves and how they choose to be in the world. We encourage students to find their voice and use it for a greater common good — to be people for and with others.”

Other colleges similarly spoke of their school’s religious tradition in defending the students’ protests.

“As an Augustinian Catholic university, we believe that an individual’s rights to express their own personal viewpoints in a civil manner is paramount,” said a Feb. 26 tweet posted by Villanova University, outside of Philadelphia.

And just to be clear about what this meant technically for student applicants, another Villanova tweet said: “No student who is admitted or has a pending application will be affected by disciplinary actions arising out of engaging in a lawful and peaceful protest.”

The student concern is a valid one because several high schools have said students will face disciplinary actions such as suspension or expulsion for taking part in gun-control protests during school hours and college applicants must disclose if they have ever faced school disciplinary measures.

The Common Application, an online college application form used by more than 700 colleges and universities, specifically asks college applicants if they have “ever been found responsible for a disciplinary violation at any educational institution” during high school. “These actions could include, but are not limited to: probation, suspension, removal, dismissal, or expulsion from the institution,” it says.

Some Catholic colleges specifically addressed the issue of high school disciplinary action against these students, and said they would not hold that against them.

A Feb. 26 tweet by the University of Notre Dame said: “The Office of Undergraduate Admissions respects a student’s right to participate in peaceful protests and demonstrations. Students will not be negatively impacted in our admissions process if they choose to participate in such protests and are disciplined by their high schools.”

And the Loyola University Chicago statement said it would not penalize “nor rescind any admission decision for applicants who choose to protest peacefully against gun violence, even if that action is contrary to their high school’s disciplinary policy.”

Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, similarly defended student protesters of current gun laws in a Feb. 26 blog and assured them it would not harm their application process.

“Let me be clear about Trinity’s policy: Trinity welcomes all courageous students who stand for justice, and we will never take a negative admissions action because a student has exercised the right to free speech and expression,” she wrote.

She also said the school has a long history of students and graduates never hesitating to “disturb the peace when glaring injustice demands our voices and our action.”

On Feb. 21, the day students protested current gun-control legislation in front of the White House, at least two Catholic college officials were among the first to say their schools would not punish these applicants.

Jon Boeckenstedt, associate vice president for enrollment management and marketing at DePaul University in Chicago, founded by Vincentians, tweeted: “Dear Students: If you participate in protests against gun violence and incur school discipline for walking out (of class), you can rest assured you can report it to DePaul and we won’t hold it against you.”

And Chris Lydon, vice president of enrollment and marketing at The Catholic University of America in Washington tweeted: “To our current applicants and prospective future applicants — Catholic University supports students who choose to stand up for their beliefs.”

The colleges not only supported these activist applicants, but they also commended the Parkland high school students for quickly mobilizing to promote gun-control legislation in the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people.

A statement on the website of Connecticut’s Jesuit-run Fairfield University said the university “joins colleges and universities around the country in mourning the victims of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. We also extend our admiration and support to the students who are channeling their grief at the loss of their teachers and classmates into constructive dialogue and action.”

McGuire also praised the Parkland students and youths “demanding a change in the nation’s gun laws. They are the future leaders of this nation and deserve respect and admiration for their courage,” she said.

The school leaders noted that this protest was different from others because it was led by young people.

“This is not the is not the first time students have protested, and it will not be the last,” said the president of St. Louis University, Fred Pestello, in a statement on the school’s website. He also said the Jesuit-run university would be rewriting its admissions policy to reflect that applicants would “not be impacted if they report high school disciplinary actions resulting from exercising their first amendment right to peaceably assemble.”

Another school president urged applicants and students to do more than protest.

Jesuit Father Joseph McShane, president of New York’s Fordham University, said the university “strongly advocates that our students turn their concern into action by leading letter-writing campaigns to Washington and to the legislatures in their home states. This is an essential step if we wish to effect change,” he added.

He said the university recognizes it is “not only a civic responsibility to curtail gun violence, but a mandate dictated by Catholic, Jesuit teachings on the sanctity of life.”