Hong Kong cardinal joins protest for religious freedom in China

June 30, 2011

Hong Kong, 30 June (ENInews)--Cardinal Joseph Zen Ke-kiun, the retired
bishop of Hong Kong, joined a protest outside the Chinese Liaison Office in
Hong Kong yesterday, asking Beijing to stop harassing Catholic bishops and
priests in mainland China. Zen and the event's organizer, the Catholic
Justice and Peace Commission, criticized Beijing for interfering with recent
bishop ordinations. 

An ordination on 29 June in Leshan, Sichuan, took place without papal
mandate. On the same day, however, one with a papal mandate was stopped by the
authorities in Handan, Hebei. The candidate, Fr. Joseph Sun Jigen, was
arrested. 

Cardinal Zen and about 50 others marched around the Chinese Liaison Office
building after saying a mass for China at a chapel nearby. When they
stopped at the entrance of the office, the Catholic commission delegate, Patrick
Poon, read aloud a statement urging China to respect religious freedom.

"We are forced to take to the street today. Chinese authorities have hurt
our brothers and sisters. Their basic human rights, especially the freedom
of religion, are being severely abused," the commission said. "July 1 is
the 79th birthday of bishop James Su Zhimin, of Baoding. He was arrested and
has been missing for 14 years."

The commission also pointed out two incidents earlier this year in which
priests were taken away and beaten. 

Zen and the commission urged Beijing to disclose the whereabouts of
missing priests and bishops, including bishop Shi Enxiang of Yixian, who has been
missing since 1997, and to guarantee their safety. They also asked Beijing
to stop harassing church members, saying the church should apologize and
provide compensation to those victims, respect their religious freedom, and
stop allowing ordinations without papal mandate.

To conclude the protest, Zen said a prayer for the faithful in China,
expressing hope they can stand firm with their faith and that priests can
resist temptation and not violate church doctrines and laws.

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