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Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong was arrested along with a number of other freedom activists in the Chinese island city on Wednesday. Zen has repeatedly warned the Vatican about increasing state persecution of religious minorities and anti-Communist public figures, but historically has received little to no response.
Zen is the epicenter of the Catholic Church’s struggle for survival in China. The nation has instituted intense censorship of religious expression, including Christianity, which it regulates through state-sponsored “patriotic associations.” Chinese citizens wishing to worship in a Catholic church (or other place of worship) must register their faith with an aggressively pro-CCP government. These organizations often force churches to teach against their dogma and often insert nationalist propaganda into the worship service. This ordinance has enforced a schism in the Chinese Catholic Church — the “official” and CCP-recognized ministry and the clandestine, illegal “underground” church.
Zen has served as the unofficial spokesman for the underground Catholic community, which has received little support or protection from the Chinese government. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) explicitly condemns the underground church for its allegiance and allegiance to a foreign power – the worldwide Catholic community.
Zen previously dismissed fears that he was a target of the arrest, stating that he was trying not to provoke her into action. However, Zen, with clear foresight, conceded that “no public person who dares to speak freely can feel safer”.
Hong Kong police on Wednesday arrested the Roman Catholic cardinal and several others accused of colluding with foreign forces.
In addition to Zen, those arrested include singer and actress Denise Ho, lawyer Margaret Ng and scholar Hui Po-keung. according to Hong Kong Watch. Each person was arrested for allegedly supporting protests against the CCP’s destruction of democracy in Hong Kong.
“I would like to emphasize that Hong Kong is a rule of law society where no organization or individual is above the law and all crimes are prosecuted in accordance with the law,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said. “We firmly oppose any act that denigrates the rule of law in Hong Kong and interferes in its affairs.”
Zen has been an outspoken critic of Vatican Foreign Minister Pietro Parolin, whom he blames for keeping church leaders in the dark about the ongoing turmoil in Chinese religious communities.
Zen has also blamed Pope Francis’ South American background for the church’s relaxed diplomacy with China, saying that the pope is unfamiliar with “communists in power.”
“I try to explain and remember that Pope Francis is from South America where the communists are the good guys who defend the poor from oppression by military regimes in collusion with the rich so he may have sympathy for them,” said Zen in 2020 “He has no direct experience of communists in power, oppressors of peoples.”
However, the cardinal has been vocal about his support for the Pope and his loyalty to the Holy See, adding: “I can honestly tell you that my personal relationship with the Pope is very good and I have evidence that we are the same.” think way.”
“The strange thing is that he doesn’t answer my letters (I doubt even that he received them) and his actions all seem to agree with Cardinal Parolin,” he added.
“We condemn the arrests of these activists whose alleged crime was to fund legal aid for pro-democracy protesters in 2019,” Hong Kong Watch said in a statement. “Today’s arrests send a clear signal that Beijing intends to step up its crackdown on fundamental rights and freedoms in Hong Kong. We call on the international community to shed light on this brutal crackdown and to demand the immediate release of these activists.”
The arrests come days after CCP loyalist John Lee became mayor of Hong Kong. Lee was elected with 99% of the votes by the Beijing-controlled Electoral Committee, which has 1,500 members.
“I love China. China is not the Communist Party. The party is not eternal, we hope to be free from the tyranny of communism one day soon,” Zen wrote in 2020. “We believe in God and in the intercession of Our Lady. May all good people keep their faith and bad people be convicted!”
Fox News’ Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.