He has also been a strong supporter of democracy and civil liberties in Hong Kong, especially as Beijing imposed its national security law in June 2020.
After the law went into effect, prominent pro-democracy activists and journalists — many of them Catholics — were arrested.
Zen told CNA in September 2020 that Catholics arrested under the new law’s provisions, such as Jimmy Lai, Agnes Chow, and Martin Lee, were “simply putting into practice the social teaching of the Church.”
“In this moment, democracy means freedom and human rights, human dignity,” Zen said.
He was reportedly arrested in his role as a trustee of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, which helped pro-democracy protesters to pay their legal fees.
4. He has criticized the Vatican’s approach to China
In 2020, Zen published a blog post on his personal website commenting critically on the Holy See’s approach to the Catholic Church in China, including its release in 2019 of a set of “pastoral guidelines.”
That document, Zen said, was “blatantly evil, immoral, because it legitimizes a schismatic Church.”
He also accused the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin of manipulating Pope Francis.
(Story continues below)
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“It’s difficult to understand how this man has become so powerful to dominate the whole Roman Curia,” he wrote.
5. The cardinal is a good cook
Friends of the cardinal say he has skills in the kitchen and his most well-known dish is pork.
Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.