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  • » 10/24/2014, 00.00


    Pope Francis encourages Card Zen, "the one who fights with a 'sling'"

    After Pope Paul VI's beatification Mass, Hong Kong's Bishop Emeritus met Francis in the parvis. He was prepared to tell the Pope, "Holy Father, I come from the "battlefield" in Hong Kong", but "before I could speak, he laughed and said, 'Ah! Ah! This is the one who fight with a 'sling'. [. . .] He knew David defeated the Giant Goliath. He was encouraging me." Addressing students, he said that neither youth nor force would lead to victory, only God's help will.

    Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - "This is the one who fights with a 'sling'," said the pope when he greeted Hong Kong's Bishop Emeritus Card Joseph Zen Ze-kiun after the beatification Mass of Paul VI, wrote the bishop himself in his Chinese-language blog.

    The pontiff's choice of words, the prelate said, was a reference to his involvement in the pro-democracy Occupy Central movement, which has been pushing for democracy in the former British colony for the past couple of years.

    For almost a month, hundreds of students and protesters have been blocking key areas in Hong Kong in order to push for genuine political and electoral reforms ahead of the election for the post of chief executive scheduled for 2017. Hong Kong authorities have responded by dismissing protesters' demands for changes to China's plan to vet and chose the candidates.

    By contrast, in July 2013, the Diocese of Hong Kong issued a paper backing civil disobedience, whilst its Justice and Peace Commission explained why it was in favour of the movement. and despite his advanced age, Bishop Emeritus Card Zen got directly involved in the protest movement.

    Under the scorching sun last June, the 83-year-old (next January) walked for 84 hours to urge people to vote in an unofficial referendum on universal suffrage.

    He also wrote and delivered public speeches in favour of the movement's demands, calling on Beijing to respect the promises it made before Hong Kong's return to the motherland.

    Last but not least, he stayed overnight in the streets with the students who have occupied key areas in the city for nearly a month.

    In Rome for the closing of the Synod on the family and the beatification of Pope Paul VI, the bishop met with the Holy Father.

    "After the beatification Mass, Pope Francis took off his vestment and greeted Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and the cardinals. [. . .] I queued in the line and thought of a few words to speak to the Pope, in order not to waste his time.

    "I prepared to tell the Pope, 'the Holy Father, I come from the 'battlefield' in Hong Kong. You may probably know that. Please pray for us, that violence might not happen."

    As he is wont to do, the pontiff surprised him. "Finally, I came in front of the Pope. Before I could speak, he laughed and said, 'Ah! Ah! This is the one who fights with a 'sling'. I hurried to say the words I had prepared. I kissed his hand and then left, so as not to hold up the queue."

    "It sounded like the pope was quoting someone else's words, did he mock me?" Card Zen wondered. "I think not. He knew David defeated the Giant Goliath. He was encouraging me: "Do not be afraid, the God of Israel is with David."

    This exchange "made me think twice. David was then a youth. Isn't he a symbol to our students? I hope those students will remember that neither youth nor a stone, but God's help enabled David to defeat the giant."

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    See also

    29/09/2014 HONG KONG - CHINA
    Card. Tong: Enough violence in Central, government must put the people first
    An "Urgent Appeal" from the bishop of the Territory to the executive: "Exercise restraint in deployment of force with a view to listening to the voice of the younger generation and of citizens from all walks of life”. Card. Joseph Zen, is on the streets with Occupy Central.

    13/06/2014 HONG KONG - CHINA
    Card. Zen and Democrats urge participation in referendum. Protests against Beijing's "White Paper"
    For the cardinal, participating in the referendum is a way to express the dignity of Hong Kong's people, against those who want to repress or enslave them. The Democrats cancel a meeting with Beijing's representative in the Territory. The White Paper states that Beijing's authority is more important than Hong Kong's "high degree of autonomy" promised by the Basic Law. Judges also have to be submitted as "patriotic administrators." Demonstrators accuse Beijing of considering the Basic Law "waste paper" or "toilet paper".

    07/10/2014 HONG KONG - CHINA
    Card Zen stands with Hong Kong students, united for democracy, "until we are either dispersed or arrested"
    Tonight, the cardinal will spend the night with the students demonstrating in Admiralty. The talks proposed by the government are a trick to divide the pro-democracy movement. It would be better to pull back now after scoring two victories, namely getting people to demonstrate en masse for democracy, and forcing Beijing to show its true face. Interview with Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, a great champion of democracy and religious freedom.

    09/06/2014 HONG KONG - CHINA
    Card Zen on 84 hour march for democracy referendum in Hong Kong
    The Referendum (unofficial) will be held on 20-22 June. Catholic groups will accompany Card. Zen. March made even more difficult by soaring seasonal temperatures. Support of Card. Tong. Zhou Nan, former Xinhua director, calls for Chinese military intervention to prevent Occupy Central proclaiming the territory’s independence.

    10/09/2014 HONG KONG - CHINA
    Card. Zen: With Occupy Central we may have provoked the Emperor’s ire
    The democratic movement is not a threat to the Territory’s survival. Beijing’s "three slaps in the face" of the local population. "When the imperialists attack, they only do damage, but when it is our fellow Chinese who want to enslave us, then our heart is wounded. There is no other option for those who do not want to be enslaved except resistance". The reflections of the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong.

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