HONG KONG (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Joseph Zen is set to appear in court on the “Day of Prayer for the Church in China.”
The 90-year-old emeritus bishop of Hong Kong, Zen was arrested May 11 for “allegedly colluding with foreign forces” before being released on bail. Now, according to the Guardian, he may appear in court on May 24 and could face new charges.
“A source close to him said the cardinal was set to appear in court on 24 May, adding it was possible that he would be further detained, should charges be laid,” the Guardian reported.
The date coincides with the “Day of Prayer for the Church in China” instituted by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007. In a special letter addressed to Chinese Catholics and dated May 2007, the then-Pontiff wrote that “the date 24 May could in the future become an occasion for the Catholics of the whole world to be united in prayer with the Church which is in China.”
Pope Benedict XVI chose this date because it is the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, “who is venerated with great devotion at the Marian Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai.”
He added: “I would like that date to be kept by you as a day of prayer for the Church in China. I encourage you to celebrate it by renewing your communion of faith in Jesus our Lord and of faithfulness to the Pope, and by praying that the unity among you may become ever deeper and more visible.”
Cardinal Zen recently tweeted about the day of prayer, promoting the Mass he will reportedly celebrate at 8 p.m in Hong Kong.
— Joseph Zen (@CardJosephZen) May 17, 2022
It is unclear whether the cardinal will indeed attend court on the same day he intends to celebrate the public Mass.
The prominent former opposition legislator Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, the singer Denise Ho Wan-sze, and Xu Baoqiang were also arrested on May 11, and a fifth individual was re-arrested while already serving jail time for “illegal assemblies.”
Please SIGN this petition calling on Hong Kong leader John Lee to cease all intimidation of Cardinal Joseph Zen following his arrest for supporting pro-democracy demonstrators.
Cardinal Joseph Zen, the Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, was arrested by the pro-China security police in Hong Kong in a major escalation of intimidation against pro-freedom activists in the region.
Zen was one of four people arrested on May 11th on suspicion of "colluding with foreign forces", with the 90-year-old's detention marking the first high-profile move by Hong Kong's new Chief Executive, John Lee.
The Hong Kong security police targeted Zen as a trustee of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, which provided “legal, medical, psychological and emergency financial assistance” to those involved in the 2019 protests against the government’s Extradition Law Amendment Bill, which allows prisoners to be transferred to China for trial.
Cardinal Zen has since been released, but his passport was confiscated to prevent him leaving Hong Kong.
The arrest was made possible under the terms of Hong Kong’s draconian national security law, passed in 2020, which Zen warned would be used to silence the Church.
The outspoken cardinal previously confessed that he was prepared to go to prison under the terms of the new law, saying, “If right and proper words were considered against their law, I will endure all the suing, trials, and arrests.”
Cardinal Zen is a hero to Hong Kongers, and needs the world to stand with him today.
SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition calling on Hong Kong leader John Lee to cease all intimidation of Cardinal Zen today.
The people of Hong Kong, including Cardinal Zen, have lived under the shadow of Beijing since 1997, and know personally how oppressive Chinese Communist Party rule is.
This arrest of a Catholic cardinal by communist authorities in Hong Kong is a stark reminder of the harsh realities of life for all citizens of the region.
Cardinal Zen's plight demands the attention of all people of good-will, as his spirit of resistance in the face of tyranny continues to inspire new generations of Hong Kongers to defy the horrors of communist rule.
Please stand with Cardinal Zen today - SIGN and SHARE this petition calling for an end to the intimidatory tactics of the Chinese Communist Party's proxy leaders in Hong Kong.
All five were arrested for their role as the trustees of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund. The Fund offered “legal, medical, psychological, and emergency financial assistance” to more than 2,000 people involved in the 2019 pro-democracy protests against the government’s Extradition Law Amendment Bill, which would allow prisoners to be transferred to China for trial.
With news of the arrests, outrage spread throughout the world in both religious and political spheres. Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan called Zen’s arrest “absolutely shameful and a challenge to the Church of God.”
However, the response from the Vatican and the Diocese of Hong Kong has been somewhat more muted. The Holy See Press Office director Matteo Bruni issued a statement May 11, writing: “The Holy See has learned with concern the news of Cardinal Zen’s arrest and is following the evolution of the situation with extreme attention.”
The Diocese of Hong Kong issued a similarly worded statement later, saying the diocese “is extremely concerned about the condition and safety of Cardinal Joseph Zen and we are offering our special prayers for him.”
Meanwhile, the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin has downplayed suggestions that Zen’s arrest would impede the renewal of the secretive deal the Vatican has made with China. Parolin voiced his hope that “initiatives such as this one will not complicate the already complex and not simple path of dialogue between the Holy See and the Church in China.”
The deal was first established in 2018 and later renewed in 2020. It is up for renewal again this fall, and though still secret, it allegedly recognizes the state-approved church and allows the Chinese Communist Party to appoint bishops. The Pope apparently maintains a veto power although in practice it is the CCP who have control. It also allegedly allows for the removal of legitimate bishops to be replaced by CCP approved bishops.
Is the Vatican selling out Cardinal Zen for the sake of their ‘secret’ deal with the Chinese communists? pic.twitter.com/Q4n3LZmcOK
— Nick Donnelly (@ProtecttheFaith) May 18, 2022
The Vatican’s continued response to Cardinal Zen’s arrest is now in the spotlight. Earlier this year, the Vatican’s top ranking officials in both Taiwan and Hong Kong were removed within weeks of each other and have yet to be replaced, prompting Hong Kong Watch’s Benedict Rogers to speculate that the Vatican could be looking to strengthen ties with China.