Skip to content

Cardinal Zen on China

"Numerous Nameless Heroes of the Church"

MILAN, Italy, JUNE 6, 2006 (Zenit) - Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong is the latest recipient of the Defensor Fidei prize, conferred annually by the Italian review Il Timone.

The cardinal was chosen for the Defender of the Faith award, in part, because "he has been a faithful witness of the Gospel of Christ; he has looked after and made himself the guarantor of all Chinese Catholics," the review said.

On receiving the award, the cardinal granted an interview in which he explained that "the color red that I wear means the will of a cardinal to shed his own blood. But it is not my blood which has been shed; it is the blood and tears of numerous nameless heroes of the official and underground Church, who suffered for being faithful to the Church."

Q: How many nameless heroes are there of the Church in China?

Cardinal Zen: Some have tried to make this calculation but it seems impossible to me to give an exact number.

The only certain thing is that there have been very many. Many died in prison, in concentration camps and in forced labor. Many others died of serious sicknesses contracted in prison.

There are also those who have survived 20-30 years in prison and tortures; they too are martyrs. It is a form of modern martyrdom. It is not crucifixion or immediate violent death but a very long suffering, endured in many years of isolation.

There are people who entered a prison or concentration when they were younger than 20 and left when they were already elderly and with ruined health.

I am thinking of many youths of the Legion of Mary, who went to prison in Shanghai in the '50s, the majority laymen rather than priests or nuns, who do not have a family to think about. And yet, I have seen many of them leave the prisons with joy and serenity: a great testimony.

But we must not forget the sufferings of the families either. Imagine parents who see a child snatched from them, without ever again knowing where he is or what befell him.

Q: One often hears that the situation has improved today.

Cardinal Zen: It depends what is meant. No doubt the Chinese regime -- which has more exchanges with the outside today and is more observed -- must be more careful, less brutal.

For example, bishops who are arrested don't go to prison but to isolated places; their detention is not as long. This does not deny the fact that the two bishops of Baoding have disappeared and their whereabouts are unknown.

I would say, however, that the most important evolution is happening within the official Church itself, with an ever clearer communion with the Pope.

And one sees that, when the priests are united, even the regime must give way, as demonstrated by the appointments of Shanghai and Xian: proposed by the Pope but formally chosen by the local clergy, so that the government was not able to say anything.

Q: Also in your Diocese of Hong Kong, you are often in the limelight because of your firm position in defense of freedom and democracy.

Cardinal Zen: In Hong Kong the situation is obviously different. We have never had persecution as in the rest of China.

Here the main enemy is secularism. Despite this, our Church in Hong Kong maintains its own vitality and we have an average of 2,000 baptisms a year.

After 1997, with the return of Hong Kong to China, the situation has changed and the Church has had the duty to defend the weakest and the poor. Furthermore, it is the Church that teaches us to be concerned for the whole man; we are called to put the leaven of humanity in social relations.

Q: You have created a reputation for yourself of being hard, of openly confronting the Chinese regime without much circumlocution. Is this the right strategy to deal with Beijing?

Cardinal Zen: I have never premeditated how I will act. In fact, I have intervened strongly on two issues: the first to defend the canonization of the Chinese martyrs, held on October 1, 2000.

The government invented a letter signed by all the Chinese bishops protesting this canonization. But it was false; the government knew that the vast majority of bishops did not agree. So I intervened harshly to unmask this attempt to discredit the Pope.

My other intervention was on the issue of democracy, more precisely on religious freedom. Beijing has already openly violated the "Basic Law" [Hong Kong's mini-Constitution] and has tried to hinder religious freedom. We Catholics, though a minority, have become parents of the whole people, a point of reference. This is how the demonstration was born that took half a million citizens to the streets.

Q: Do you think that China might soon be "resigned" to open a true dialogue with the Holy See and abandon its prejudices?

Cardinal Zen: I think so. Today China sends many people abroad, whether or not of the government.

Little by little, they realize that, in the rest of the world, countries have no problem accepting the Pope's naming of bishops, that this does not contradict love for the homeland or being good citizens. In this way, many problems might be surmounted.

Contact

Catholic Online
http://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000

Email

info@yourcatholicvoice.org

Keywords

China, Zen, Hong Kong, Church

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity
DAN SHEA

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

Catholic Online MasterClass
Learn from experts

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Catholic Media Missionaries
The New Evangelization

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.