Breitbart News reports that Cardinal Joseph Zen, together with five others, has been found guilty of failing to properly register the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, which provided legal and medical aid to jailed protesters of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.
Last May, Hong Kong’s national security police arrested Zen, the 90-year-old former bishop of Hong Kong, on suspicion of “collusion with foreign forces” under the city’s sweeping national security law, but these charges have not been brought.
This summer, the European Parliament (EP) condemned his arrest in the strongest of terms and urged the Hong Kong authorities “to drop all charges against Cardinal Zen and the other four trustees.”
“Parliament condemns the arrests of Cardinal Joseph Zen, one of the strongest advocates of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, and of the other four trustees of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund,” the EP stated in July, noting that these and similar repressive actions “constitute an attack on the freedoms guaranteed in the Hong Kong Basic Law, including the freedom of religion or belief.”
But on Friday, a judge ruled that Zen and the other five defendants could be regarded as “office-bearers” of the fund, which carried “political aims,” and therefore were liable for not registering the trust as a society. The defendants were fined between HK$2,500 and HK$4,000 each.
Conspicuous by its absence was any protest from Pope Francis, who has been at loggerheads with Zen over dealings between the Vatican and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Asked by a reporter whether Zen’s arrest and trial constituted a violation of religious freedom, the pontiff refused to criticize it or to defend the 90-year-old cardinal.
“Cardinal Zen is going to trial these days, I think. And he says what he feels, and you can see that there are some limitations there,” he stated.