Without Mentioning Cardinal Zen’s Arrest, Pope Francis Says He Prays for the Church in China | National Catholic Register
Pope Francis has drawn particular attention to the fact that Tuesday, May 24 – when Cardinal Zen is expected to return to court – is the liturgical memorial of Our Lady, Help of Christians.
Pope Francis said on Sunday that he was praying for the Church in China and “caringly and actively following the lives and often complex situations of the faithful and pastors” there.
In brief remarks to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Regina Caeli May 22 prayer, the pope did not specifically mention the recent arrest of Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun in Hong Kong.
The 90-year-old former bishop of Hong Kong was arrested on May 11 under China’s national security law along with at least four others for his role as administrator of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, which helped pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong pay their legal fees. costs. He was released on bail later that day.
Pope Francis has drawn particular attention to the fact that Tuesday, May 24 – when Cardinal Zen is expected to return to court – is the liturgical memorial of Our Lady, Help of Christians. Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, decreed in 2007 that the date be observed worldwide as “a day of prayer for the Church in China”.
Chinese Catholics have a special devotion to Our Lady, Help of Christians, who is venerated under this title at a Marian shrine in Shanghai, China.
“This coming Tuesday is the memorial of the Blessed Virgin, Mary, Help of Christians, especially dear to Catholics in China, who venerate Mary, Help of Christians as their patroness in the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai, in many churches across the country, and in their homes,” Pope Francis said Sunday.
“This happy occasion gives me the opportunity to assure them once again of my spiritual closeness. I carefully and actively follow the lives and often complex situations of congregants and pastors, and I pray for them every day,” he said.
The Pope continued: “I invite you all to join in this prayer so that the Church in China, in freedom and tranquility, may live in effective communion with the universal Church and may exercise her mission of announcing the Gospel to all, and thus make a positive contribution to the spiritual and material progress of society as well.
Cardinal Zen, who has criticized an interim diplomatic agreement between the Holy See and the Chinese communist government, is a strong supporter of the pro-democracy movement.
In 2020, a sweeping national security law came into effect, criminalizing previously protected civil liberties under the rubrics of “sedition” and “foreign collusion.”