Cardinal Joseph Zen says changes to Hong Kong’s status in China could threaten the religious freedom of Catholics in the region.
The legislature of China approved a resolution to impose new “security laws” on its formerly autonomous region Hong Kong on May 28.
Cardinal Zen, Bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, worries that the new laws will be used to subvert the freedom of religion that the region currently enjoys.
“We have nothing good to hope for,” he said. “Hong Kong is completely under [China’s] control. We depend on China even for our food and water. But we put ourselves in the hands of God.”
China had announced on May 21 a plan to enact so-called “security laws” affecting Hong Kong.
Chinese officials in Beijing said that the National People’s Congress (NPC), the country’s legislature, would sidestep Hong Kong’s legislature and impose changes on the region.
After the May 28 vote, which passed 2,878 to 1, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam expressed her support for the new measures.
The resolution did not specify a timeline for Beijing to implement the new measures, though some lawmakers anticipate that detailed measures will be revealed in the next few months.
Although Cardinal Zen believes many in the Catholic community in Hong Kong oppose China’s actions, he worries these new laws could allow Chinese security forces to operate in the city.
He is also concerned that the Vatican will appoint a new bishop, sympathetic to Beijing, who may not be as insistent on democratic values.
“I think the majority of the faithful, the silent majority [sic] think that the authority is wrong,” said Cardinal Zen.
“We rely on help from heaven [sic] from the human perspective, we have nothing to hope [for].
“There is no more ‘one country, two systems’. [China] didn’t dare to say it in those exact words, but the fact is there. Now, with the [legislature], they will legitimise all that they are doing.
“We (Hong Kong Catholics) are not against having a law,” he continued, “but we want it to be well formulated because the law they were presenting was against all our freedoms.
“We would not accept any law made by a government that does not represent the people.”