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Cardinal Joseph Zen speaks with LifeSite in New York on February 14, 2020.Jim Hale / LifeSite

HONG KONG (LifeSiteNews) — The emeritus bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen, has announced that he is in the hospital due to breathing problems, after pre-existing conditions worsened during his trip for Pope Benedict XVI’s funeral. 

The 91-year-old cardinal gave the health update in a post on his personal blog, addressed to “the prisoners,” whom he regularly visited for a number of years in his retired ministry.

He noted that his trip to Rome for Pope Benedict’s funeral was like a “miracle,” with all the elements which came together for the visit – which included the Chinese authorities granting Zen permission to leave Hong Kong for 5 days.

READ: Cdl. Zen allowed to leave Hong Kong for Pope Benedict’s funeral

“I went to Rome and felt that I was a teacher representing all Hong Kong and all China, and expressed our love to Pope Benedict XVI,” wrote Zen, who was made cardinal by Benedict in 2006.

“It was a happy four days, but it was also a hard four days,” Zen wrote about his brief trip to Rome. Zen, whose presence at the late pontiff’s funeral was a welcome sight for many, was physically assisted by a young priest during the funeral. He also walked with the use of a cane.

Cdl Zen at Pope Benedict’s funeral January 5, 2023.

He added that even prior to leaving for the papal funeral he was plagued by a variety of ailments including “shoulder inflammation, back pain, and numbness in both hands.”

With the trip apparently compounding such issues, Zen wrote that he was then a “patient” in a health center for 10 days upon his return. 

His health conditions did not relent, and his hands swelled up, Zen wrote. Furthermore, he revealed that on January 22 he began to have trouble breathing, which led to his hospitalization. 

Zen previously had to remain in the hospital for three weeks in 2016, when he suffered from a lung infection. He stated that the doctors have ruled out a resurgence of the infection in this latest hospitalization.

While noting his recent silence due to being hospitalized, Zen also wrote that he was being treated by “the best doctors in Hong Kong.” Addressing the prisoners, Zen added that he was not aware when he might be well enough to resume his regular ministry.

“But don’t forget, we are never apart in prayer,” he wrote. “I will keep praying for you all and please remember me in your prayers.”

Vatican journalist Diane Montagna added that the cardinal’s secretary had informed her that Zen’s doctors “determined he was suffering from adhesive capsulitis,” or frozen shoulder, a long-lasting condition whereby the shoulder’s movements become painful and very limited.

The secretary added Zen had received treatment successfully. “It is a good opportunity for His Eminence to take some rest,” he said.

Zen’s health ailments come atop of the past nine months, which saw him arrested by the Chinese Communist authorities under the terms of China’s draconian 2020 National Security Law. He was arrested along with his fellow trustees of the now-defunct 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund who subsequently joined him in court. 

The 612 Fund was established to offer “legal, medical, psychological, and emergency financial assistance” to those involved in the 2019 protests against the government’s Extradition Law Amendment Bill, which sought to allow prisoners to be transferred to mainland China for trial.

In November, Zen was found guilty of the lesser offense of failing to properly register the now-defunct 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund and was consequently fined HK $4,000 ($512). Zen and his fellow defendants had pled not guilty. 

However, Reuters reported that he could yet face further prosecution as police investigate “an accusation of ‘collusion with foreign forces.’” In light of this, Zen’s travel to Rome for Benedict’s funeral was contingent upon the authorities granting him freedom to travel and returning his passport. 

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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.


Cardinal Zen arrested in Hong Kong - LifeSiteNews

Cardinal Zen calls out Pope Francis for not answering dubia about ‘murder’ of Chinese Church - LifeSiteNews

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READ: Pope Francis finally meets with persecuted Cdl. Zen. Why now?

While in Rome, Zen was granted a private audience by Pope Francis, after the Pontiff famously refused to meet the cardinal on his last visit to Rome in 2020. According to Jesuit-run America Magazine, which broke the story, Zen described the meeting as “wonderful. He was so very warm!”

America’s report of the meeting portrayed a very cordial encounter between Zen and Francis, with no mention of any conversation about Francis’ secret deal with China or of Zen’s recent arrest and trial.