Political Cardinal gives warning to China
A newly-appointed Cardinal who has warned China that it will be hard for him to change, after he was told not to get political.
China yesterday warned the newly-appointed Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong, a leading critic of Beijing, not to mix religion with politics.
But the cardinal said he was too old to change his position on issues such as democracy and the rights of the persecuted, and often 'underground' Church in China. "I am over 70. There are things that will be hard to change," he said.
"People say I am rebellious. But if you help the underprivileged, you have to speak louder or no one can hear you."
In response, a spokesman for China's foreign ministry said: "We advocate that religious figures should not interfere with politics.
"We hope that the Catholic Church in Hong Kong will cherish the stability, development and harmony of Hong Kong society."
Stability is a codeword in the Communist leadership for accepting its rule and, in Hong Kong's case, not demanding a more rapid transition to democracy.
Cardinal Zen, who was born on the Chinese mainland but unable to return under Mao, was elevated from the rank of archbishop in Pope Benedict XVI's first list of new cardinals this week.
At the end of last year, the Vatican protested strongly against the arrest and beating of Roman Catholic nuns which led to 600 Christians taking to the streets to demonstrate in Xian City, north west China.