Rogers, the founder of the NGO Hong Kong Watch and a convert to Catholicism, said: “We condemn the arrests of these activists whose supposed ‘crime’ was funding legal aid for pro-democracy protestors back in 2019.”
“Today’s arrests signal beyond a doubt that Beijing intends to intensify its crackdown on basic rights and freedoms in Hong Kong.”
“We urge the international community to shine a light on this brutal crackdown and call for the immediate release of these activists.”
The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Freedom of Religion or Belief, a cross-party group of U.K. parliamentarians, also condemned Zen’s arrest.
“This is yet another example of China’s increasing restrictions of fundamental human rights,” it said in a Twitter post.
David Alton, an independent member of the House of Lords, the upper house of the U.K. parliament, described the cardinal’s arrest as “an act of outrageous intimidation.”
Earlier this week, former security chief John Lee was named as Hong Kong’s next chief executive, succeeding Carrie Lam, who held the post since 2017. Both Lee and Lam are baptized Catholics.
Bishop Stephen Chow Sau-yan, Hong Kong’s new Catholic leader, took charge of his diocese in December 2021.
In his first interview, published in February this year, he underlined the importance of protecting human dignity.
“I find it unacceptable for human dignity to be ignored, trampled upon, or eliminated entirely. God gave us this dignity when he created us in his image and likeness. And therefore it is universal because it comes from the love of God,” Chow said.
In March, Pope Francis recorded a brief video message for Catholics in Hong Kong.
(Story continues below)
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“I wish you to be good citizens and that you are courageous in the face of the challenges of the time,” he said.
In Cardinal Zen’s last blog post before his arrest, he quoted Romans 8:34-39: “It is Christ [Jesus] who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.’”
“No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life … nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”