LONDON- The Bishop of Hong Kong and the voice of the suffering Church in China, Cardinal Joseph Zen, has accepted an invitation from Aid to the Church in Need to preside at its Westminster Event at the end of September.
Cardinal Zen will preside at ACN’s Mass at Westminster Cathedral before giving a talk in the cathedral hall entitled ‘The Church in China Today’.
During his address, the Bishop of Hong Kong is expected to reflect on a year of great significance for him both personally and for the wider Chinese Church.
The Bishop of Hong Kong was honoured earlier in the year by Pope Benedict XVI when created him a cardinal in his first consistory just five months ago. The move was in recognition of Cardinal Zen’s determination to stand up for China’s suppressed Christian population.
The cardinal also made waves in May when he condemned the controversial ordination of two bishops by China’s state-sanctioned and ‘official’ Catholic Church, undertaken without Vatican approval.
Cardinal Zen has become one of the most authoritative speakers on the Church in China, taking advantage of Hong Kong’s semi-detachment from the Chinese mainland and its jurisdictions to speak out against the suppression of the ‘Underground’ Church in mainland China.
ACN UK’s national director, Neville Kyrke-Smith, said on the announcement of Cardinal Zen’s visit, "We are delighted that Cardinal Zen is celebrating the Mass at the cathedral for the suffering Church and we look forward to hearing what he will say about the challenging situation facing Christians in China today."
He added, "There is a great deal of interest in human rights in China and problems for Christians in the country. Indeed it is reported that Pope Benedict XVI and Prime Minister Tony Blair discussed this matter at their last meeting."
CAN’s Head of Press and Information, John Pontifex, will also speak at the event entitled "Keep Faith and Hope Alive", on the inspirational faith of Pakistan’s Christians amid terrible persecution over recent months.