Cardinal Joseph Zen was arrested Wednesday by Hong Kong police along with three other pro-democracy advocates on charges of “collusion with foreign forces.” All four were detained and interrogated by police for several hours.
At 90-years old, Cardinal Zen is a former bishop of Hong Kong and the most outspoken Roman Catholic advocate for democracy and freedom of religion in Hong Kong.
In addition to Cardinal Zen, singer Denise Ho; former scholar Hui Po-keung; and Margaret Ng, former barrister were also arrested. All four were charged with “collusion with foriegn forces” no doubt over their contributions to a now-disbanded fund that paid the legal fees of those arrested in Hong Kong’s 2019 pro-democracy protests. Police had vowed to investigate the fund for violations of Hong Kong’s national security law, Reuters reported, triggering the arrests of Cardinal Zen and the others.
Police stated that Cardinal Zen and the others were released on bail Wednesday, but that their passports had been confiscated under the national security law, according to The Washington Post. Police also added that the arrests will continue.
— Chan Ho-him (@ThomasHHChan) May 11, 2022
Hong Kong’s national security law punishes terrorism, collusion with foreign forces, subversion and secession — all terms loosely defined. The law, passed in 2020, threatens the freedom promised to Hong Kong by China under the “one country, two systems” policy.
“It seems that this is going to destroy completely what they promised to Hong Kong in terms of autonomy,” Cardinal Zen told Crux in 2020.
The Vatican commented on Cardinal Zen’s arrest, expressing “concern” and noted that it was following events “with extreme attention.”
The controversial agreement between the Vatican and Beijing on appointing pro-CCP bishops is set to be renewed later this year — a deal criticized by Cardinal Zen as “selling out the church in China.”
“The line followed by the Vatican in recent years when dealing with the threatening China giant has been appeasement at any cost,” Cardinal Zen wrote in a Washington Post op-ed during the 2019 pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong.
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Image: Cardinal Joseph Zen prayed with Catholics before the protest against Hong Kong Basic Law Article 23 legislation (Alfredoko, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons).