Cardinal Joseph Zen, 90, begins trial in Hong Kong for foreign collusion

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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 collaborating with foreign forces by failing to register its pro-democracy charity fund with the government, begins its formal trial Monday in Hong Kong.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, former Archbishop of Hong Kong, was roughly arrested with four other pro-democracy lawyers in May for allegedly collaborating with foreign forces in violation of a national security law imposed by the CCP, according to Crux.

The five were specifically accused of failing to register a now-defunct relief fund used to bail out protesters and pay legal fees for Hong Kongers who protested in 2019 against a controversial bill allowing extradition to China. continental.

In addition to Zen, lawyer Margaret Ng, singer-activist Denise Ho, academic Hui Po-keung, former lawmaker Cyd Ho and activist Sze Ching-wee, who served as the fund’s general secretary before his closing last October, are also on trial. All five submitted pleas of not guilty. Zen has been out on bail since May 11.

ARRESTED CARDINAL HAS MULTIPLE TIMES WARNED HOLY SEE OF CHINESE PERSECUTION, CONDEMNS VATICAN SECRETARY OF STATE

Joseph Zen, Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, arrives for a religious service at St. Andrew's Parish Church in Hong Kong on Friday, June 4, 2021.

Joseph Zen, Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, arrives for a religious service at St. Andrew’s Parish Church in Hong Kong on Friday, June 4, 2021.
(Chan Long Hei/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“I would like to point out that Hong Kong is a company with the rule of law where no organization or individual is above the law and all violations will be prosecuted according to law,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao said at the time. Lijian. “We strongly oppose any act that denigrates the rule of law in Hong Kong. and interfere in his affairs.”

Frank Wolf, a former US congressman from Virginia who serves on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), recently wrote an op-ed for Fox News Digital in which he calls the charges against Zen “false” and writes that he is “deeply concerned for his safety and well-being”.

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

“The Chinese government has broken promises and is eviscerating 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 this free city transforming into an increasingly repressive society where no one stands up to government tyranny, including religious leaders and communities. »

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

(Left to right) Cardinals John Tong Hon, Cardinal Joseph Zen, Bishop Stephen Chow, Bishop Joseph Ha and Dom.  Paul Gao poses for a photo during the Episcopal ordination of the Most Reverend Stephen Chow at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Hong Kong on December 21, 2019. 4, 2021.

(Left to right) Cardinals John Tong Hon, Cardinal Joseph Zen, Bishop Stephen Chow, Bishop Joseph Ha and Dom. Paul Gao poses for a photo during the Episcopal ordination of the Most Reverend Stephen Chow at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Hong Kong on December 21, 2019. 4, 2021.
(BERTHA WANG/AFP via Getty Images)

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

Zen is repeated Vatican warnings regarding the CCP’s increased crackdown on religious minorities and public figures who resist the government have consistently received few responses, prompting the cardinal to blame Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin for holding the leaders of the Church in ignorance on these matters.

Zen also criticized Pope Francis, whose South American origins he blamed for the Holy See’s relaxed diplomacy with China, saying the pope was unfamiliar with “ruling communists”.

ARRESTED CARDINAL HAS MULTIPLE TIMES WARNED HOLY SEE OF CHINESE PERSECUTION, CONDEMNS VATICAN SECRETARY OF STATE

“I try to explain, remembering that Pope Francis comes from South America, where the Communists are the good guys who defend the poor against the oppression of military regimes in collusion with the rich, then he may have sympathy for them,” Zen said in 2020. “He doesn’t have the direct experience of communists in power, oppressors of peoples.”

Pope Francis meets with bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated persons, seminarians and pastoral workers in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, September 29, 2019. 15, 2022.

Pope Francis meets with bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated persons, seminarians and pastoral workers in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, September 29, 2019. 15, 2022.
(REUTERS/Pavel Mikheyev)

Chinese President Xi Jinping is said to have refused 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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Fox News’ Timothy HJ Nerrozzi contributed to this report.