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Recent Graduate Documents Hong Kong's "Umbrella Movement"

After receiving her doctoral degree at the GTU this fall, Mee-Yin Mary Yuen (PhD, ’14) returned home to Hong Kong, where she recently wrote about the pro-democracy efforts of the student-led “Umbrella Movement” in her country. In a potent and concise article for AsiaNews entitled, “Justice and Peace: Occupy Central increases the Dignity and Political Consciousness of Hong Kong,” Yuen documents the critical moments in this unfolding event before summarizing how Catholic social teachings relate to and even encourage participation in the protests. Mary’s article builds on the timely work of her dissertation, which integrated Catholic and Confucian virtue ethics and principle-based human rights in Catholic Social Teachings in order to provide “a foundation for Catholics in Hong Kong to embrace a more active and comprehensive commitment to the needs of the marginalized.”

In the article in AsiaNews, Yuen writes that the recent troubles in Hong Kong began when the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress suddenly declared that Beijing’s central government would unilaterally choose the candidates for Hong Kong’s Chief Executive. When student leaders were arrested for speaking out against this action, larger scale community protests broke out, and the movement grew exponentially. It gained the nickname “Umbrella Movement” because people have used umbrellas to block police tear gas.

A member of the Vatican's Council on Peace and Justice, Yuen points out that Vatican II documents direct Catholics not to follow the demands of public authorities when those authorities overstep the boundaries of the moral order. She then outlines Catholic teachings on the common good, solidarity, love, and dialog, relating these teaching to the Hong Kong protests. She explains how concepts of solidarity with the oppressed pervade Christian relational teachings because they combine a sense of love and peace. She provides examples, both big and small, in how the protesters daily embody this sense of justice. Finally, Yuen discusses the importance of dialogue throughout the Asian Church regarding how such teachings are being applied within the action of the protesters.

The article has now been translated into four languages. Click here to read an English version of the original piece from AsiaNews