Brave bishops need support: Cardinal Zen and Bishop Álvarez victims of state persecution in Hong Kong and Nicaragua
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, today issued the following statement:
“The targeting of Cardinal Joseph Zen in Hong Kong—a one-time bastion of freedom—underscores the efforts of the Chinese Communist Party to silence this champion of religious and civil liberty. Though his sentence was relatively light, the enemies of religious freedom targeted him to send a message: no one is safe.
It is becoming clearer that efforts to reach rapprochement with China’s Communist government are running into the reality that the CCP will not allow the Church pastoral autonomy and will seek to subordinate Church teaching to the dictates of the Party. As such, the Church—including and especially Pope Francis—can and must speak with clarity and conviction on behalf of Cardinal Zen and the persecuted Church in China proper.
Likewise, the Holy Father needs to speak out on behalf of Bishop Rolando José Álvarez, held incommunicado without trial along with a number of priests, seminarians and lay faithful in Nicaragua by dictator Daniel Ortega.
I further call on our Ambassador to the Holy See Joseph Donnelly to encourage the Holy Father to raise his voice in support of Cardinal Zen, Bishop Álvarez and all other persecuted prelates the world over.”