Cardinal Joseph Zen, 90, to Begin Trial in Hong Kong on Foreign Conspiracy Charge

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A 90-year-old Roman Catholic cardinal who was arrested earlier this year by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for allegedly conspiring with foreign troops by failing to register his pro-democracy charity fund with the government will begin his formal trial in Hong Kong on Monday.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, Former Archbishop of Hong Kong, Was Unceremoniously Arrested with four other proponents of democracy in May for allegedly conspiring with foreign troops in violation of a CCP-imposed national security law, Crux said.

The five were specifically charged with failing to register a now-defunct emergency fund used to rescue protesters and pay the legal fees of Hong Kongers who demonstrated in 2019 against a controversial law that allowed extradition to mainland China.

Besides Zen, others are on trial, including barrister Margaret Ng, singer-activist Denise Ho, scholar Hui Po-keung, former lawmaker Cyd Ho and activist Sze Ching-wee, who served as the fund’s secretary general before it closed last October. . All five pleas of not guilty filed. Zen has been out on bail since May 11.

ARRESTED CARDINAL REPEATEDLY WARNED HOLY SEA FOR CHINESE PROSECUTION, CONVENIENCED VATICAN SECRETARY OF STATE

“I want to emphasize that Hong Kong is a society with the rule of law where no organization or person is above the law and all criminal offenses will be prosecuted in accordance with the law,” said Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Frank Wolf, a former U.S. Congressman from Virginia who is a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), recently wrote an op-ed for UKTN News Digital calling the charges against Zen “unfounded” and writing that he was “deeply concerned about his safety and well-being.”

CARDINAL ZEN APPEARS IN HONG KONG COURT AFTER ARREST BY CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY

“The Chinese government has broken its promises and is looting the rule of law and civil liberties in Hong Kong,” Wolf wrote. “Religious freedom as a fundamental right will inevitably suffer as well. In fact, we are witnessing before our very eyes that this free city is transitioning into an increasingly repressive society where no one who resists the tyranny of government is safe, including religious leaders and communities.”

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“Cardinal Zen is not only a democracy activist in Hong Kong, but he is also a tireless and outspoken advocate for religious freedom and human rights in China,” Wolf also said. “He is a hero and role model to many.”

(L to R) Cardinals John Tong Hon, Cardinal Joseph Zen, Bishop Stephen Chow, Bishop Joseph Ha and Dom.  Paul Gao poses for a photo at the Episcopal ordination of the Most Reverend Stephen Chow at Hong Kong's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on December 4, 2021.

(L to R) Cardinals John Tong Hon, Cardinal Joseph Zen, Bishop Stephen Chow, Bishop Joseph Ha and Dom. Paul Gao poses for a photo at the Episcopal ordination of the Most Reverend Stephen Chow at Hong Kong’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on December 4, 2021.
(BERTHA WANG/UKTN via Getty Images)

USCIRF did not immediately respond to a request for comment from UKTN News Digital.

Zen’s repeated warnings to the Vatican regarding the CCP’s increased crackdown on religious minorities and public figures who oppose the government have historically garnered little response, leading the cardinal to blame Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. giving church leaders the ignorance of such matters .

Zen has also criticized Pope Francis, whose South American background he blames for the Holy See’s relaxed diplomacy with China, saying the Pope is not familiar with “Communists in power.”

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ARRESTED CARDINAL REPEATEDLY WARNED HOLY SEA FOR CHINESE PROSECUTION, CONVENIENCED VATICAN SECRETARY OF STATE

“I try to explain, remembering that Pope Francis is from South America, where the communists are the good ones who defend the poor against the oppression of military regimes in collusion with the rich, so maybe he has sympathy for them,” he said. Zen in 2020 “He has no direct experience with communists in power, oppressors of peoples.”

Pope Francis meets with bishops, priests, deacons, ordained persons, seminarians and pastoral workers at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, on September 15, 2022.

Pope Francis meets with bishops, priests, deacons, ordained persons, seminarians and pastoral workers at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, on September 15, 2022.
(REUTERS/Pavel Mikheyev)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has reportedly turned down an offer to meet Pope Francis while the two were in Kazakhstan at the same time last week, according to Reuters.

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Timothy HJ Nerrozzi of UKTN News contributed to this report.

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