AMAC Exclusive – By Ben Solis
On May 11, Chinese authorities arrested 90-year-old Cardinal Joseph Zen, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Hong Kong from 2002-2009 and an outspoken critic of the Chinese Communist Party’s oppression of Christians. In targeting Cardinal Zen, the CCP is continuing a long historical pattern of socialist regimes persecuting religious leaders in order to expand political and social control over a population.
In the charges brought against Zen, the CCP accuses him of breaking China’s national security law for associating with the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, an organization which provided bail funds to protestors arrested during the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong in 2019.
Though the organization is now defunct, Zen could face life in prison if convicted. Cantopop singer and actor Denise Ho, ex-legislator Margaret Ng, and academic Dr Hui Po Keung were also arrested and stand accused of similar charges. Many Catholics in Hong Kong affectionately refer to Zen as “Grandpa Cardinal,” and his arrest is sure to worsen an already tense situation between Beijing and the Vatican, as well as the international community.
Born into a Catholic Shanghai family in 1932, Cardinal Zen left for Hong Kong, then a British colony, in 1948, a year before the communists took over of the mainland. In 1989, Zen and others in Hong Kong watched the student-led pro-democracy protests unfold in China before a brutal military crackdown in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square left many dead.
That started Zen on a pattern of activism and speaking out against the Chinese government. Zen has repeatedly urged the Vatican to take a tougher stance toward the CCP, and has raised concerns about the Church’s willingness to compromise its independence in order to appease authoritarian leaders – a criticism that echoes that of other church leaders in the 20th century, namely in Eastern Bloc countries under Soviet rule.
Indeed, Zen’s arrest bears eerie similarity to the targeting of religious figures by Moscow following World War II as Stalin and his successors tried to stamp out the light of Christianity on the continent.
In 1953, for example, the Polish Communist regime, a puppet of Moscow, arrested Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, the Primate of Poland. As a Church canon law professor, a warrior who fought both the Nazis and the Red Army, and someone who risked his life to save Jews from the Holocaust, Wyszyński was a symbol of invincible and sagacious resistance.
When the Soviets took over following World War II, Moscow issued a decree that allowed it to appoint and dismiss officials in the Catholic Church administration, including parish priests. A Conference of Bishops led by Cardinal Wyszyński protested the decree, saying that “we must not lay God’s matters on Caesar’s altar.” For his transgressions, Wyszyński was imprisoned for three years and watched closely by the communist regime.
In Hungary, Moscow imposed a similarly brutal crackdown on the Catholic Church, nearly destroying it entirely. Soviet authorities secularized Catholic schools, censored the free press, and killed or arrested many priests.
In the face of this oppression, Cardinal József Mindszenty dared to defy the Soviets, urging resistance to the puppet government in Budapest. Like Wyszyński, Mindszenty was uncompromisingly anti-communist, with no illusions about the ulterior motives, designs, and nature of the Marxist adversaries. Especially when dealing with determined communists, a hesitant, irresolute attitude could prove disastrous, he wrote in his memoirs.
In 1948, Mindszenty was arrested, and after being tortured, pled guilty to treason and conspiracy. He was imprisoned for eight years before finally being freed and granted asylum at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest.
But while the persecutions of Wyszyński and Mindszenty were met with thundering condemnation by Pope Pius XII, Zen’s arrest has come with hardly a peep from Pope Francis. While the Vatican has said it is “concerned” about the arrest, it has neither said or done anything of real significance for fear of upsetting the Communist Party of China.
As Zen himself has said, compromise with evil will not save the Church in China, but only doom it to a more prolonged suffering and destruction. It has and always will be the faith of religious peoples which allow light to triumph over darkness. Today’s Catholic leaders would do well to remember this truth and forcefully condemn China’s crackdown on religion, lest the Chinese communists succeed in accomplishing what the Soviet Union unsuccessfully sought to do many decades ago.
Ben Solis is the pen name of an international affairs journalist, historian and researcher.
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It is one more characteristics of China under Xi. In the past, they would not persecute so openly. It is clear that Xi wants the world to see it.
And is waiting for its the reaction?
The Catholic Church appeased Hitler and lent the third Reich their cooperation before and during the Second World War……..this pope reflects the leftist agenda……no surprised to any thinking Catholic
Pope Francis first has to support Archbishop Codileone who has denied Nancy Pelosi communion because of her promotion of abortion. If he can face down the Queen of the Congress, he should be able to withstand the President of the Chinese Communist Party.
Was Pelosi denied communion…..I have heard nothing on the news about this…was told by a friend this happened
This is why Pope Benedict XVI “retired” and Pope Francis, who was from Socialist Argentina was put in place, is my belief.
Speaking of the end times. God tells us.
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. Matthew 24:21
We have been warned. It will get worse.
But will Vatican stand up??
Vatican has no leg to stand on with the current pope
How low can they go? This is for sure the result of sick, psychopathic leadership and evil, hateful, demented beliefs. The world must stand up for sanity. After all, the man is 90. How rotten can they get?
Why?? They didn’t stand up to Hitler and the third Reich…….
you may not be aware of this but even Israel acknowledges what the Roman Catholic Church did to save thousands of Jews which they hid all over the Vatican and in their Churches and other places. the Roman Catholic Church did not forget what the Jews in Rome did for the early Church when they were being killed by the Roman Empire. many Jews helped these people back than. You sound like one who is full of hate and probably is into the concentration camps we have in this country with their laws allowing the murdering of babies up to them being born and after. you must be a demon rat who talks about being a jew or christian but their actions are full of hate, violence and assaults
If that was directed to me let me tell you lady…..I was born and raised Catholic……and I bet you did not study your history……..I am probably older than you…….if we don’t know our history we are bound to repeat it….keep that in mind
Christians around the world should protest this arrest more loudly. Where are the Church leaders statements on this in newspapers? Why Fox does not talk about it more? Don’t you think Chicoms would not intimidate HK Christians here? A Chinese opened fire in US-Taiwanese church this month.
And the DemoRot Party espouses Chinese Commie stands on personal issues!!! China is big enough from a population standpoint that their Commie gov’t probably deliberately shaves out a bog number of its citizens to keep the rest of the population from rebelling. That’s a key tactic for Communism … if the economy is causing unrest, just eliminate a portion of the population to take pressure off of shortages.
Indeed, Wysynski, Mindszenty and Zen are true hereos. Ronald Reagan talked about Cardinal Mindszenty when he was Governor or even President, if memory serves. All of them had a big vision, something which our fellow Conservatives need to learn. We are facing the same tyrannies that attacked them.
I revere Cardinal Mindszenty for his courage to stand against the lie. His thoughts on Communism would help many politicians to characterise this White House decisions. We need more inspiration to withstand difficult times, faithful to our convictions. I wish AMAC would have more such articles. I wish, Fox would report more in this spirit rather than highly polarising or even antagonising manner.
I agree. Yes.
I read Cardinal Wyszynski prison memoirs – highly recommended, and relevant especially today. Communists had no mercy on him regularly making difficult for him to say a mass. He was responsible for education of pastoral future pope, John Paul II.
They both together with two other cardinals came out with idea of reconciliation of Polish people with Germans. Wyszynski and Polish Bishop Conference authored a message “We forgive you and we ask you for forgiveness” to Germans.
Communists were offended and terrified because their control of Poles depended on the high level of fear of Germany that needed Moscow to be defended against re-invading of Polish territory. It was an absurd but the very effective one that kept a great part of population, especially leaving in the West, in an uncertainty.
Yes, I watch a documentary about Wyszynski. He was heroic Cardinal, and anti-communist indeed.
You have a good point. Christian including Catholic leaders should condemn loudly this arrest. Otherwise, the persecution will escalate into Hong Kong church.
I get paid over $190 per hour working from home with 2 kids at home. i never thought i’d be able to do it but my best friend earns over 15k a month doing this and she convinced me to try. the potential with this is endless…
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The Pope and Joe Biden need to address this. Just saying….
Joe Biden has nothing to do with this. He is in line with Nancy Pelosi. … (who calls herself a Catholic)
Prayers will be put before the Lord for Cardinal Zen and the persecuted church. Also praying for the Pope to hear Gods word, and not the worlds ????????