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  • » 04/15/2009, 00.00

    VATICAN - HONG KONG - CHINA

    Cardinal Zen resigns as head of diocese of Hong Kong



    Benedict XVI accepted his resignation today, presented because the cardinal has reached the age limit. The new bishop is the current coadjutor bishop John Tong Hon. Despite the "hopes" of the Patriotic Association, he has already expressed the "expectation" of full religious liberty for Chinese Catholics.

    Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Benedict XVI today accepted the resignation of Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, S.D.B, bishop of Hong Kong, presented in conformity with Canon 401 § 1 of the code of Canon Law, because he has reached the age limit. He will be succeeded by Bishop John Tong Hon, currently the coadjutor of the same diocese.

    Cardinal Zen, 77, was supposed to retire two years ago, but Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation only last December. Several times he said the pope had asked him to continue to follow the situation of the Church in China. The prelate has fought several battles in defence of religious freedom and against state interference in the internal affairs of Church, in matters like the appointment of bishops.

    In his latest intervention he called on mainland bishops to be more courageous and follow the Pope’s lead, standing against the influence and rhetoric of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. (CCPA).

    In a brief interview with the South China Morning Post in March, CCPA Chairman Anthony Liu Bainian said that he hoped that Cardinal Zen’s successor, Coadjutor Bishop John Tong Hon, would be more malleable and patriotic like Cardinal Zen’s predecessor, Card John Baptist Wu Cheng-chung.

    Bishop Tong was appointed auxiliary bishop of Hong Kong in 1996 at the same time as the cardinal, and has always expressed his support for what he calls Cardinal Zen’s “excellent” work. In his message to the diocese when he was appointed coadjutor in January 2008 he stressed the role played by the Church of Hong Kong as a bridge to the mainland. "It is my great expectation,” he said, “that the Chinese government will guarantee full religious freedom for Catholics on the mainland, so that they can make greater contributions to society, and in this way our motherland would also enhance its international status."

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    See also

    11/03/2009 HONG KONG - CHINA
    Cardinal Zen to leave helm of Hong Kong diocese after Easter
    The diocese will be handed over to coadjutor bishop, Mgr John Tong. He will follow Cardinal Zen’s path in running the Church and in the relationship towards China and the authorities in Beijing. The Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association hopes instead for a shift. Cardinal Zen will continue to follow the situation of the Church in China.

    09/03/2006 HONG KONG - CHINA – VATICAN
    Patriotic Association criticizes Zen, belying itself and government

    The neo-cardinal: "Li has poised himself as the judge of Benedict XVI" and "presents himself as the representative of the official Church, but if freedom were granted to the bishops, priests, and faithful to speak out, one may hear views that are very different from his."



    01/12/2009 CHINA – VATICAN
    National Assembly of Catholic Representatives postponed again
    The assembly is of one the bodies the Pope views as “irreconcilable with Catholic doctrine”. The meeting was planned for the second half of 2009. In the past Cardinal Zen asked Chinese bishops to avoid the event.

    11/04/2005 China – Vatican – Hong Kong
    Sino-Vatican relations after pope's death


    01/07/2007 HONG KONG – CHINA – VATICAN
    Cardinal Zen: “Pope’s letter to the Chinese Church represents love for truth and his children”
    The bishop of Hong Kong, Card Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, hopes that Benedict XVI’s letter to China’s clergy and faithful may be the starting point for a direct dialogue between the local Church and the Beijing government. He stresses the letter’s religious rather than its political tone.



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