Cardinal Joseph Zen is a voice for China’s Catholics


Catholic Register, 17 February 2017

Recent developments regarding the Catholic Church in China brought to mind the Canadian visit of the Chinese Church’s most outspoken pastor in 2013.

Four years ago I had the honour of hosting Cardinal Joseph Zen, retired bishop of Hong Kong, in both Toronto and Kingston. I had invited him because of my admiration for his courage in defending the religious liberty of Chinese Catholics against the regime in Beijing, and because I thought it was good for Canadian Catholics to learn about the pressures facing the Church in China.

That he accepted my invitation was something of a surprise. We had only ever met in passing and had no relationship. He was retired as bishop, and already over 80. He still taught in the seminary and kept very active, so a trans-Pacific trip was not easy to work into his schedule. When word came that he would come, I was delighted and also surprised.

He explained his decision in Kingston, where he addressed our annual St. John Fisher Dinner, a fundraiser in support of the missionaries of Catholic Christian Outreach and their work on campus at Queen’s.

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