Ninety-year-old Cardinal Joseph Zen, who has openly criticized the Chinese Communist Party, was arrested on Wednesday night in Hong Kong. The Cardinal retired as the Bishop of the Diocese of Hong Kong in 2009 after 7 years. He has since been released on bail.
The Cardinal was detained by the police who monitor China’s national security. He was charged with “collusion with foreign forces,” in connection with his role as administrator of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, a fund that has supported pro-democracy protesters and paid for their legal and medical expenses. His alleged acts were seemingly in violation of the national security law imposed by Beijing in June 2020.
“The Holy See has learned with concern the news of Cardinal Zen’s arrest and is following the evolution of the situation with extreme attention,” said the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni.
The 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund was established in 2019 and dissolved in October 2022.
The charge leveled against those arrested is one of four offenses designed to quash pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The new law has been internationally condemned. The other offenses– subversion, secession and terrorism – can result in life imprisonment.
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