China prosecutes Hong Kong's Cardinal Zen

"Martyrdom is normal in our church."

Updated: October 11, 2022 - 10:24pm

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The Chinese-aligned Hong Kong government is pursuing charges against Roman Catholic Cardinal Joseph Zen, among others, for failing to properly register a pro-democracy group that provided aid to activists in the aftermath of the communist crackdown on the region.

The 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund offered legal and medical relief to the protesters arrested during the citywide protests against a national security law that allowed the extradition of criminal offenders to the Chinese mainland. Authorities have asserted that the group had "political motivation" in court, according to the Washington Examiner.

While Zen faces a fine if found guilty in this instance, he faces life imprisonment under the national security law, the outlet noted. The cardinal has previously asserted that the Christian life requires sacrifice and acknowledged that his faith and actions in its name would bring difficulty.

"Martyrdom is normal in our church," Zen said in May, per the Examiner. "We may not have to do that, but we may have to bear some pain and steel ourselves for our loyalty to our faith."

The Catholic Church, meanwhile, has struggled to grapple with the status of its faith in China amid its dealings with the Communist Party. The Holy See has long sought a permanent agreement with Beijing and the Pope himself has declined to label the country undemocratic.

"Qualifying China as undemocratic, I do not identify with that, because it's such a complex country," Francis said this month, per the outlet. "Yes, it is true that there are things that seem undemocratic to us. That is true. Cardinal Zen is going to trial these days, I think. And he says what he feels, and you can see that there are limitations there."

China officially espouses state atheism and neither the Roman Catholic Church nor the state-approved Three-Self Patriotic Church enjoy unrestricted operation within the state.

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