Outspoken Cardinal Zen arrested in Hong Kong

The arrest of Hong Kong’s Cardinal Joseph Zen has sparked global outrage about communist China’s iron-fisted grip on freedoms and rights in the former British colony.

UCA News Network

Updated: May 13, 2022 11:18 AM GMT

Cardinal Joseph Zen was arrested on May 11 under the national security law. (Photo: AFP)

Hong Kong police granted bail to outspoken Cardinal Joseph Zen and three activists hours after arresting them on charges of collusion with foreign forces. The 90-year-old former bishop of Hong Kong was arrested along with senior advocate Margaret Ng, pop singer Denise Ho and academic Hui Po-keung on Wednesday.

Former lawmaker Cyd Ho was already imprisoned in a separate case. The arrestees were trustees of the now-defunct 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund that lent support to pro-democracy protesters by paying their legal and medical bills amid a government crackdown in 2019.

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The accused have been charged under the repressive national security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in 2020.

Cardinal Zen, a strong supporter of democracy and human rights and a staunch critic of extremely authoritarian China's communist regime, is the highest-ranking Catholic clergy to be arrested under the draconian law. The arrests have sparked outrage around the world.

Catholic leaders in the Philippines have expressed shock after Vice President Leni Robredo lost the presidential election to the son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos by a huge margin.

Marcos Junior secured more than 31 million votes, while Robredo bagged about 15 million in the election held on Monday.

Presidential candidate Leni Robredo speaks to the media during a press conference at her home in Magarao town, Camarines Norte, south of Manila, on May 9. (Photo: AFP)

Many Catholic leaders publicly backed Robredo as Marcos Junior was seen a throwback to the martial law years when his father suppressed, tortured and murdered opponents while plundering millions of dollars of state funds. Catholic clergy grieved Robredo's defeat and expressed fears that the return of the Marcos clan would open the door to authoritarianism and corruption.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas said that losing the election does not mean losing hope. He called on Robredo and her supporters to continue to be with people so that no plunderer can steal their dreams.

Catholic activists have deplored another mob lynching in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand.

A group of men lynched 45-year-old Muslim man Shamim Ansari last Friday as he tried to stop illegal loggers from felling trees in a village in Gumla district. In another case in January, a 32-year-old man was stoned to death after he was accused of timber theft.

Indian protesters raise slogans condemning a mob lynching in Jharkhand state at a demonstration in New Delhi on April 15, 2019. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/UCA News)

While the latest brutality has socioeconomic overtones stemming from the dominance of business elites, Catholic activists have pointed to previous mob lynchings of minority Muslims and Christians that damaged communal harmony in the state and other parts of India.

Since the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014, India has seen a rise in mob lynchings and vigilante attacks by radical Hindu groups on minority Muslims and Christians, often accusing them of religious conversion and consuming beef.

Catholic clergy and religious in Sri Lanka have made efforts for peace as the country reels from deadly violence amid a worsening economic crisis. Violent clashes broke out between anti-government protesters and pro-government supporters this week.

Tensions rose on Monday when a ruling party legislator shot dead a protester and then killed himself during a clash in capital Colombo. The next day, Catholic priests and nuns along with Muslim religious leaders averted possible sectarian violence in Catholic stronghold Negombo.

Sri Lankan government supporters attack peaceful protesters outside the president's office in Colombo on May 9. (Photo: AFP)

Amid nationwide protests, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned on Monday but protesters are demanding his elder brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, must also quit immediately. Protesters set on fire houses of the Rajapaksa family in the city of Hambantota and destroyed a family memorial.

The government has imposed a nationwide curfew and deployed the military as protests spill over while the nation sinks with a debt of 51 billion US dollars.

Major ethnic rebel groups from Christian-majority regions of Myanmar have dismissed an offer for peace talks from junta chief General Min Aung Hlaing.

The Karen National Union, Kachin Independence Army, Chin National Front and Karenni National Progressive Party said they will not attend meetings with the military leader because all stakeholders were not invited and there is a lack of genuine political will to ensure a federal democratic union.

A church service is held for a member of the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF), who died during fighting with the military, in Demoso township in Myanmar's Kayah state on Sept. 17, 2021. (Photo: KNDF/AFP)

The junta chief aims to talk to representatives of established ethnic armed groups in May. But he didn't invite newly emerged people's defense forces and the shadowy National Unity Government, describing them as terrorist groups.

Myanmar's 20 ethnic armed groups have been fighting for autonomy for more than seven decades. The debate over peace talks came as the military targeted the historic Catholic village of Chan Thar in Sagaing region that left at least 20 houses burned in a raid last Saturday.

Church officials in Indonesia's predominantly Christian Papua province have called for the release of seven activists who were arrested for violating the electronic information and transactions law.

Jefry Wenda, spokesman for the Papuan People's Petition, and six others were arrested in provincial capital Jayapura on Tuesday. The arrestees were accused of organizing a rally to oppose the government's proposal to break the province into six, which many Papuans have rejected.

Jefry Wenda (white T-shirt), spokesman for the Papuan People's Petition, is arrested by police on May 10. (Photo supplied)

Hundreds of Papuans have joined in a series of similar rallies recently. Papua has experienced a slow-burning insurgency for independence from Indonesian rule since its annexation in 1960s. Violence has intensified in recent years.

Analysts say the government plans to divide the region to exert more control in the province. Meanwhile, an unknown assailant firebombed the office of the Papua Legal Aid Institute in Jayapura on Monday. Director Emanuel Gobay said the organization might have been targeted for its human rights work in the province.

Catholic groups in South Korea joined dozens of civil society groups for a 40-day nationwide tour to raise awareness about the environment and to denounce development projects deemed detrimental.

The tour, dubbed the Spring Wind Pilgrimage, brought together more than 80 civic groups. It ended with a cultural festival at Jongno in capital Seoul. The event showcased music, dance and other cultural performances to highlight environmental issues.

South Koreans join a cultural program in capital Seoul on April 30 to wrap up 40-day nationwide march for the environment. (Photo: Catholic Times of Korea)

The activists have slammed the government for several development projects, which they said are posing dangers to the environment and public health.

For example, environmental groups said the government decision to introduce a cable car will damage Seoraksan National Park, a famed natural reserve and tourist destination. Others said the government should abandon a coal-fired power plant in Samcheok, a beach city popular for its cultural, educational and tourism sectors.

Macau, is a gaming and gambling hub, a prime destination for sex trafficking with high levels of unwanted pregnancies and abortions just like mainland China, where abortion is legal.

Now Macau Diocese has encouraged Catholics and people of other faiths to watch the premier of 2019 pro-life American drama film Unplanned. The film is scheduled to be screened at Catholic-run theater Cineteatro de Macau on May 19. The diocese is promoting the film with an aim to spread the pro-life message to Macanese citizens.

A scene from the 2019 American drama film 'Unplanned'. (Photo:

Macau Diocese undertakes various activities to spread the Church's pro-life and anti-abortion stance. Last year Macau Diocese offered a special Mass and inaugurated a monument for a celebration of aborted fetuses at the diocesan funeral home.

Unplanned is a film based on the 2011 memoir of Abby Johnson, a former clinic director of pro-abortionist global organization Planned Parenthood. Johnson became a leading anti-abortion activist after quitting the agency.

Catholics in Pakistan have paid tribute to Bishop John Joseph on his 24th death anniversary, recalling how he committed suicide to protest the abuse of blasphemy laws.

The bishop of Faisalabad Diocese in Punjab province killed himself on May 6, 1998, outside a court after a Christian man, Ayyub Masih, was sentenced to death for blasphemy. His suicide was seen as a protest against the abuse of minorities over blasphemy.

Peter Jacob, executive director of the Centre for Social Justice, lights a candle on the pedestal dedicated to the memory of Bishop John Joseph at Falettis Hotel in Lahore on May 6. (Photo: Kamran Chaudhry/UCA News)

Four years later, Pakistan Supreme Court reversed Masih's conviction, acquitted him of all charges and released him from death row. Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan. No one has been executed for it by the state, but accusations have led to violent attacks and murders.

According to the Centre for Social Justice, at least 1,949 people were subjected to false allegations, prolonged trials and displacement between 1985 and December 2021 over blasphemy. At least 84 were killed after being suspected or accused under blasphemy laws.

The government of Catholic-majority Timor-Leste has launched a national program to combat endemic malnutrition that afflicts nearly half of children under five. The National Health Sector Nutrition Strategy Plan 2022-26 was launched last Thursday. The program was supported by the European Union and UNICEF.

Through the program, the government seeks to improve the quality of services for women and children, expand community-based interventions and health facilities for screening and treatment of acute malnutrition, improve access to information on infant and young child feeding practices, and provide early initiation of breastfeeding and complementary feeding.

Timor-Leste aims to reduce the level of malnutrition for children under five from 47.1 percent to 25 percent by 2030. (Photo: UNICEF)

The program aims to raise the capacity of families to have sufficient nutritious food at home. The government has set a target to reduce the malnourishment rate of children under five from 47.1 percent to 25 percent by 2030.

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