Joseph Zen Ze-kiun


May 17, 2022

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun SDB (Chinese: 陳日君, pinyin Chén Rìjūn; born January 13, 1932 in Shanghai, China) is a Chinese minister and Roman Catholic Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong. He is the sixth Chinese and the second bishop of Hong Kong to be made a cardinal. On May 11, 2022, he was briefly arrested by the National Security Police.


On February 11, 1961, as a Salesian of Don Bosco, he received the Sacrament of Holy Orders from the Archbishop of Turin, Cardinal Maurilio Fossati. In the summer of 1961 he earned his license in Catholic theology. In the summer of 1964 he received his doctorate in philosophy. Joseph Zen taught philosophy at a Salesian study house from 1964 to 1970, and philosophy and theology at the Holy Spirit Seminary College in Hong Kong since 1971. Zen was Provincial Superior of the Salesian Province of Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Mainland China from 1978 to 1983, Dean of the Philosophy Department at Holy Spirit Seminary College from 1984 to 1991, and Director of the Salesian Community of Aberdeen (Technical School) from 1986 to 1989. From 1989 to 1996 he also taught philosophy and theology at Chinese seminars. On September 13, 1996, Pope John Paul II appointed him Coadjutor Bishop of Hong Kong. He was ordained a bishop by the Bishop of Hong Kong, John Baptist Cardinal Wu Cheng-chung, on December 9 of the same year; Co-consecrators were the Archbishop of Tokyo, Peter Seiichi Cardinal Shirayanagi, and the Curial Archbishop and Official of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Charles Asa Schleck. His motto is: Ipsi cura est. On September 23, 2002, he became Bishop of Hong Kong after the death of his predecessor. Pope Benedict XVI took him in the consistory on March 24, 2006 as a cardinal priest with the titular church of Santa Maria Madre del Redentore a Tor Bella Monaca in the College of Cardinals. Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun was a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. His appointment was seen worldwide both as a political issue and as recognition of his work, as he appeared as a regime critic of the Chinese communist government and the Hong Kong municipal government. Joseph Zen became known as a vehement advocate of democratic and religious civic interests in Hong Kong. He has been repeatedly banned from entering the country by the Chinese government. Cardinal Joseph Zen is urging the Vatican to refrain from abandoning the underground church in the People's Republic of China and its faithful in exchange for the desired "normalization" of relations with the Chinese government. In order to achieve its goal, the Holy See should “not compromise”. Cardinal Zen says that the Vatican has "already made concessions in many respects" to the People's Republic of China in recent decades. In January 2008, Hong Kong auxiliary bishop John Tong Hon became coadjutor bishop for the Hong Kong diocese and in support of Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun appointed. On April 15, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI. the resignation submitted by Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun for reasons of age. Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun was succeeded by his previous coadjutor, John Tong Hon. On September 22, 2018, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Papal States Antoine Camilleri and China's Deputy Foreign Minister Wang Chao signed an interim agreement giving Beijing a say in the appointment of dignitaries. As the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports, Beijing recognizes the pope as the supreme authority of the Catholic Church in China, while the Vatican in turn concedes that the Communist Party has a say in appointing bishops in the country, which is usually an exclusive right of the pope. Sandro Magister, the Vatican expert