01/13/2022, 15.03
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Card. Zen turns 90: 'I hope I have never let the Lord down'

The bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, a voice known worldwide for his battles for human rights in China, turns 90 today.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, turns 90 today. The cardinal wanted a simple celebration together with his successors, the new bishop Stephen Chow Sau Yan and Cardinal John Tong. "May the presence of the Lord God with you and may he grant you blessings and an abundance of grace on this special day," the diocese wrote in a brief greeting.

Already in the morning, Cardinal Zen had spoken directly through his Facebook page to the many people from around the world who are sending him their best wishes for this 90th birthday. "I thank the Lord - he wrote - for the gift of life and for my Salesian priestly vocation to be a servant of God for our dear young people and all of you. Throughout the years, I have always asked myself, 'Have I carried out the plans God has for me?' I hope I have never let the Lord down. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!"

Cardinal Zen was born in Yang King-pang, diocese of Shanghai, on January 13, 1932. He entered the Salesians and was ordained a priest in Turin in 1961. In his priestly ministry he was a lecturer in seminaries both in Hong Kong and in Mainland China, as well as provincial superior for China for his congregation.

On September 13, 1996, a handful of months before Hong Kong's return to China, he was appointed by John Paul II as coadjutor bishop of Hong Kong and succeeded Cardinal John Baptist Wu in 2002.

His has consistently been a voice in defense of religious freedom and human rights in China.

Created cardinal by Benedict XVI in 2006, he left the leadership of the diocese in 2009. Since then, however, he has not failed to make his voice heard, for example, personally taking to the streets alongside the students during the protests of the umbrella movement. In recent years, he has been outspoken in his opposition to the Interim Agreement between China and the Vatican on the appointment of bishops.

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