Pope Francis is asking Catholics to join him in praying for the faithful in China.
Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun and several others pleaded not guilty in a Hong Kong court to charges of failing to properly register a now-defunct fund to help anti-government protesters.
One of Asia’s top Catholic cardinals said the arrest of Cardinal Joseph Zen is a cause of concern “about the situation for human rights and threats to religious freedom in Hong Kong.”
Cardinal Joseph Zen, retired bishop of Hong Kong, reassured Catholics he is fine after being detained and held by national security police for his support of anti-government protesters.
The U.S. State Department has condemned the arrest of Cardinal Joseph Zen and others by Hong Kong police on May 11 as the latest example that the city’s authorities “will pursue all means necessary to stifle dissent and undercut protected rights and freedoms.”
The Vatican and the Chinese government will extend an agreement signed in 2018 regarding the appointment of bishops. As the initial agreement expired Oct. 22, the two sides “have agreed to extend the experimental implementation phase of the provisional agreement for another two years,” the Vatican said in a communique the same day.
Chinese Catholics say undisclosed details about negotiations between the Vatican and the Chinese government add to confusion about Church leadership in their native country. The confusion also drives a wedge between Catholics willing to cooperate with government regulators and others who want only to recognize the Vatican’s leadership, local Chinese clergy say.