CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 April 2019

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Cardinal Zen awarded Medal of Freedom

HONG KONG (UCAN): Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, the outspoken former bishop of Hong Kong, is scheduled to receive the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, in the United States of America (US), on January 28.
 
The award is given each year to those individuals and institutions who have demonstrated a lifelong commitment to freedom and democracy, and opposition to communism and all other forms of tyranny, according to the foundation’s website.
 
The Washington-based, Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation is a non-profit educational and human rights organisation, authorised by a unanimous act of Congress in 1993 signed by then US president, Bill Clinton. It is devoted to commemorating more than 100 million victims of communism around the world and to the freedom of those still living under totalitarian regimes.
 
The 87-year-old cardinal has repeatedly written articles opposing the Vatican-China provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops and voiced the concerns of China’s unofficial Church.
 
Marion Smith, executive director of the foundation, said that “Cardinal Zen has given voice to those denied religious liberty in China and has opposed the collusion of the Vatican and Chinese Communist Party on the matter of ecclesiastical appointments.”
 
The foundation described Cardinal Zen as the “new conscience of Hong Kong” and a vocal proponent of human rights in Hong Kong and mainland China.
 
“He has criticised the Communist Party’s crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 and the brutal treatment of the Falun Gong spiritualist movement,” it said.
 
“Zen remains an influential voice for freedom in China and has led pro-democracy protests and demonstrations in Hong Kong since 2002.”
 
Past religious recipients include Pope St. John Paul II; Bishop Laszlo Tokes, of Romania; Father Nguyen Van Ly, of Vietnam; and Chinese civil rights advocate, Chen Guangcheng. Chinese dissident, Yang Jianli, and Chinese human rights advocate, Wei Jingsheng, also received the award.
 
On January 22, Cardinal Zen wrote a blog saying that the Sino-Vatican agreement still leaves lots of questions to be clarified. How should the open and unofficial Churches unite? Should the unofficial Church join the official Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association?
 
Cardinal Zen also questioned an article written by Father Paul Gan last October saying that once diplomatic relations between the Vatican and China were established, the bishops of Hong Kong and Macau could join the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China.
He asked, “Hasn’t Gan heard of one country and two systems? Or maybe he already knew that it was a deception? Under such circumstances, the next bishop of Hong Kong Diocese (would certainly need) Beijing’s blessing.”
 
He urged Catholics on the mainland not to act hastily and to be patient before the uncertainty is cleared. 

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