ROME — The redoubtable former bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen, said this week due to the Vatican’s “foolish” appeasement policy toward Communist China, the Holy See cannot be expected to come to the defense of Hong Kong protesters.
“I’m sorry to say that we have nothing to expect from the Vatican,” Cardinal Zen told Crux, a U.S.-based Catholic news outlet. “In these past few years, they have never said anything to reproach China for their persecution.”
Instead, the Vatican has “surrendered the Church to the Chinese authority,” said the 88-year-old cardinal.
“In Hong Kong, in all this time of turmoil, with so many young people suffering the brutality of the police, not a word from the Vatican,” Zen continued, adding that the Vatican is “always trying to please the Chinese government.”
He said the Holy See’s policy is “foolish,” since “the Communists, they never grant anything, they just want to control.”
Hong Kong’s Chinese-controlled government had been working to pass a National Security Law for months, which critics warned would spell the end of the island’s special status as an autonomous haven of freedom and foreign commerce.
On May 31, Beijing adopted the resolution, which bans treason, secession, sedition, subversion, foreign interference, and terrorism.
“We are worried, we are very worried,” Cardinal Zen said in reference to the law Beijing is trying to impose on Hong Kong. “We need a miracle; we need a miracle from heaven.”
“Surely it will damage our autonomy,” Zen said, while adding that many details of the law are still unknown. “For example, about the implementation of that law, which organism is going to do that, and whether the offenders would be judged in Hong Kong, by Hong Kong courts, or to be brought to China.”
“All these things make us very worried,” the cardinal said. “It seems that this is going to destroy completely what they promised to Hong Kong in terms of autonomy.”
On Thursday, thousands of Hong Kong residents teemed into city squares to mark the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, which resulted in thousands of deaths at the hands of the communist People’s Liberation Army.
Each year since 1990, Hong Kongers stage a peaceful candlelight vigil in Victoria Park to honor the dead, which has no history of violence or conflict, but this year Hong Kong’s pro-China authorities banned demonstrations to memorialize the massacre.
Nonetheless, Thursday evening members of the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China set up outside of Victoria Park and began handing out candles, without police interference. Police had erected barricades to prevent people from entering the center of the park, where the vigil typically occurs, but demonstrators breached the barricades.
Reports suggested that thousands of people actually made it to Victoria Park, while attempting to keep social distancing guidelines.
Vatican-watchers concur that the Holy See has been carrying out a full-court press to woo Beijing into full diplomatic relations, and therefore has been willing to overlook its egregious violations of religious liberty and other human rights.
According to veteran Vatican journalist John L. Allen, Jr., the Vatican is “covetous of a relationship with China, and often apparently willing to stifle objections and give away a great deal” in order to make headway.
In short, “the Vatican is moving full-steam ahead in its courtship of Beijing, with the ultimate prize remaining full diplomatic relations, a secure legal standing for the church, and partnerships on the global stage,” Allen wrote last month.
Similarly, in December Vatican analyst Alban Mikozy declared on French television that Francis dreams of being the pope who will establish diplomatic relations with Beijing, and to achieve this goal he is willing to make “concessions.”
“Pope Francis is a prudent man,” Mikozy said. “He pursues a dream: to be the sovereign pontiff who will restore relations between China and the Vatican.”
“In order to do this, he is ready to make a few concessions: say nothing about Hong Kong, do not get too excited when the Chinese leader talks about rewriting the Bible,” he added, in reference to announcements that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intends to retranslate the Bible and other sacred texts to make them square with socialist ideology.
Because of this overriding desire, Mikozy said, the pope is willing to turn a blind eye to the CCP’s violations of religious liberty and other human rights issues.