Tuesday, October 29, 2002

CNN Europe looks at the Conscience of Hong Kong: Bishop Joseph Zen

In the often stale and staid political scene in the former British colony, Bishop Zen well and truly stands out. "This is more than a breath of fresh air," says legislator Martin Lee. "To have somebody speaking out so clearly in defense of human freedom, I think we are very fortunate to have a bishop like him." Hong Kong is in its fifth year as a Special Administrative Region of China and topping Zen's concerns is a government move, supported by Beijing, to introduce a law against subversion known as Article 23. Zen believes it will jeopardize the freedoms, including religious freedom, that China promised to preserve in the territory. "This Article 23 is really terrible, really terrible. I see danger everywhere in that document. I think that's the worst thing that can happen to Hong Kong after the handover," Zen says. "[There is danger] even for the church in general, for the press, for those who dissent from the government, from Beijing." The Chinese government, which does not recognize the Vatican and maintains tight controls over the church on the mainland has branded Zen a "Vatican agent" and barred him from visiting. "They are afraid of everything they cannot control. They are punishing bishops who do not collaborate, punishing seminaries -- very harsh, very harsh," Zen says.

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