On May 24 in Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen offered Mass and prayed in solidarity with Catholics persecuted in mainland China after his court appearance.
In his homily, Zen chose not to speak about his legal case, but to highlight how Catholics in certain parts of China cannot attend Mass.
Reuters reported that Hong Kong's retired bishop, 90, prayed in Chinese for the freedom of his "brothers and sisters," who could not attend the Mass tonight.
Covid-19 restrictions have been tightened in Shanghai and Beijing by authorities this spring, prohibiting people from leaving their apartment compounds for any reason, including religious worship.
The Chinese government has also cracked down on China's underground Catholic community in recent years, restricting Catholics under the age of 18 from attending public Mass.
Cardinal Zen claimed that the Holy See made an "unwise decision" when it entered into an interim agreement with the Chinese Communist Party government.
Cardinal Zen told AFP that the time is not right to unite the above-ground and the below-ground worlds.
Though the Vatican made an unwise decision, it acted in good faith.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, expressed hope that Zen's arrest would not adversely influence the Holy See's dialogue with China a day after he was arrested in Hong Kong on May 11.
Once China reached the provisional agreement with the Vatican in 2018, it avoided criticizing the crackdown on democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
About 300 people attended Zen's Mass held in a Hong Kong Catholic church.
Thousands of people watched the live stream of the Mass on the cardinal's Facebook page in less than 24 hours.
He is scheduled to appear on trial on Sept. 19.
The concept of martyrdom is normal in the Christian faith; we may not have to undergo martyrdom, but we may have to bear some pain and steel ourselves in pursuit of our loyalty to our faith," Zen said. - Anbu Selvam
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