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Hong Kong, January 7, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Officers in Hong Kong arrested dozens of prominent pro-democracy activists in early morning raids Wednesday, which are seen as Beijing’s latest attempt at stomping out any remnants of democracy in the former British colony that is now administered by China.

A total of 53 people were arrested by Hong Kong authorities under China’s new national security law (NSL). The individuals arrested were accused of “subverting state power” for allegedly holding and promoting primaries for pro-democracy candidates for the now-postponed Hong Kong election.

In July, Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam announced that the planned elections would be postponed for one year, until September 5, 2021, referring to an apparent worsening COVID-19 outbreak in the region.

According to the Hong Kong police, 47 people were arrested for participating in the primaries, and a total of six people for holding them. Police searched a total of 72 sites and ordered four media companies to hand over their materials, as well.

The arrests are seen as the most brazen attempt yet by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has slowly been turning once free Hong Kong into an authoritative dictatorship under tight control by Beijing.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) passed the NSL in June of 2020 in China’s mainland legislature, circumventing local and already established Hong Kong law.

The NSL criminalizes any acts which are deemed to be secession, terrorism, subversion, or collusion with a foreign or external force.

Under the NSL, the CCP now has the power to effectively muzzle any resistance to Beijing’s ever-tightening control over Hong Kong.

Maya Wang, who is a senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch, said that any remaining “veneer of democracy in the city” has vanished.

“Beijing once again has failed to learn from its mistakes in Hong Kong: that repression generates resistance, and that millions of Hong Kong people will persist in their struggle for their right to vote and run for office in a democratically elected government,” said Wang, as reported by The Guardian.

In recent months, Hong Kong has undergone a dramatic transformation, seeing its once mostly independent institutions such as schools, legislature, and news media, all come under more control of the Chinese government.

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Over the past year, informed Catholics and Christians in the West have watched helplessly as the Communist government in China has cracked down harder and harder on our Chinese brothers and sisters in Christ.

Incidents of persecutions, occurring over the last year, include the fact that:

  • Christian churches have been destroyed by authorities. 
  • Two million Christians and Buddhist are being kept in detention.
  • Christian teachings have been reinterpreted according to socialist doctrine.
  • Churches in Hunan province were forced to remove displays of the Ten Commandments and replace them with quotes of President Xi Jinping.
  • Churches in Jiangxi province were ordered to remove biblical paintings and crosses and replace them with portraits of the president.
  • In some areas, all public displays of Christmas decorations have been banned.
  • In December, Christians belonging to “house churches” not recognized by the government were ordered to refrain from publicly celebrating Christmas.

In the latest assault on the practice of one's faith in China, and, indeed, on freedom of conscience, new draconian rules, set to go into place in February, absurdly require that religious groups “spread Communist Party principles.”

Of course, the Church has been persecuted in China for decades. But, these latest attempts to squelch the independence of the Church are coming in spite of the recent agreement the Vatican signed with China’s communist government.

Or, could it be, as some suggest, that the latest persecution against Chinese Christians is coming at least, in part, because of the recent agreement the Vatican signed with the communist government?

Perhaps, appeasement is seen by the Chinese government as a weakness to be exploited.

Some senior Catholic prelates have been increasingly vocal in speaking out both against the communist government's treatment of religion, as well as aspects of the recent Agreement.

Now, a letter from Cardinal Zen to the rest of the Cardinals in the world (please read, below), more clearly delineates his grievances with the new Sino-Vatican Agreement. It also brings new light to the questions ('Dubia') he posed to Pope Francis about the Agreement in July (but, which have, to-date, gone unanswered).

One of the most striking insights the Cardinal makes about the new Sino-Vatican Agreement can be found in the second paragraph of his letter (reproduced in its entirety, below): "From my analysis of the document of the Holy See (June 28, 2019), “Pastoral guidelines of the Holy See concerning the civil registration of clergy in China,” it is quite clear that it encourages the faithful in China to enter a schismatic church (independent of the pope and under the orders of the Communist Party)."

This is a devastating insight, and the good Cardinal, and faithful Catholics and Christians in China, now needs our support, both moral and prayerful.

This petition, therefore, both supports Cardinal Zen and his quest to stop the "murder of the Church in China," as well as Chinese Catholics and Christians as they face an intensifying crackdown.

Please SIGN this urgent petition, today! It will be CC'ed to Vatican authorities.

LETTER FROM CDL. ZEN TO THE COLLEGE OF CARDINALS:

Your Eminence,

Pardon the inconvenience my letter will cause you. It is just that, in conscience, I believe that the problem I present here concerns not only the Church in China, but the whole Church, and we cardinals have the grave responsibility to help the Holy Father in guiding the Church.

From my analysis of the document of the Holy See (June 28, 2019), “Pastoral guidelines of the Holy See concerning the civil registration of clergy in China,” it is quite clear that it encourages the faithful in China to enter a schismatic church (independent of the pope and under the orders of the Communist Party).

On July 10, I presented my “dubia” to the Pope. His Holiness, on July 3, had promised to take an interest in them, but to this day I have still not heard anything.

Cardinal Parolin says that today when we talk about the independent Church, this independence should no longer be understood as absolute, because the agreement recognizes the role of the pope in the Catholic Church.

First of all, I cannot believe that there is such a statement in the agreement, and I do not see it there. (By the way, why must such an agreement be secret, and why is it not granted even to me, a Chinese cardinal, to see it?) But, even more clearly, the whole reality after the signing of the agreement shows that nothing has changed. Cardinal Parolin quotes a sentence from Pope Benedict’s letter completely out of context — indeed, diametrically opposed to the whole paragraph. This manipulation of the pope emeritus’s thought is gravely disrespectful; indeed, it is a deplorable insult to the person of such a meek pope, who is still alive.

But it also disgusts me that they often declare that what they are doing is in continuity with the thought of the previous pope, while the opposite is true. I have reason to believe (and I hope one day to be able to prove with archival documents) that the agreement signed is the same one that Pope Benedict had, at the time, refused to sign.

Your Eminence, can we passively witness the murder of the Church in China by those who should protect and defend her from her enemies?

Begging on my knees, your brother,

Card. Joseph ZEN, SDB

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

List of Cardinal Zen's Questions (Dubia) to Pope Francis (Scroll down): https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/cdl-zen-tells-pope-francis-that-vaticans-new-pastoral-doc-to-china-justifies-apostasy

'Cdl Zen urges cardinals to stop the ‘murder of the Church in China’ - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/cdl-zen-decries-vatican-china-deal-in-letter-to-cardinals-it-disgusts-me

'Chinese bishop sleeping on street after refusing to join communist schismatic group' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/chinese-bishop-sleeping-on-street-after-refusing-to-join-communist-schismatic-group

Vatican’s June release of new guidelines concerning the civil registration of clergy in China - https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2019/06/28/0554/01160.html#en

'Chinese govt demands Christians use religion to ‘spread Communist Party principles’ - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/chinese-govt-demands-christians-use-religion-to-spread-communist-party-principles

'Vatican doesn’t understand that communist China will never compromise' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/vatican-doesnt-understand-that-communist-china-will-never-compromise

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In December, prominent Catholic media mogul Jimmy Lai was arrested in Hong Kong after he allegedly was caught committing fraud.

Retired Hong Kong bishop Cardinal Joseph Zen has been a top critic of the persecution of China’s Catholics. He has spoken out harshly against the Vatican-China deal, saying it is “the murder of the Church in China,” and that it showed the Vatican “selling out the Church to China.”

Zen also called out China’s national security law. He said in a recent interview that it makes it easier for the Chinese Communist Party to go after city protestors and further erodes the independence of Hong Kong.

“I went through the whole text of the law,” said Zen in an interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo. “It’s easy to tell you in just one sentence: ‘Now they can do anything,’” he added.

“We are at the mercy of this new commission … We don’t have religious freedom because we don’t have freedom.” 

In December, the CCP replaced all traces of religious references with CCP-style alternatives at a well-known Catholic pilgrimage site, which was done as part of increased targeting of the Catholic Church after the Vatican signed a secret deal with China.

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