Cardinal Joseph Zen, arrested last year under Hong Kong's national security law, received permission from a court on Tuesday to attend the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, a source told Reuters. AFP.
Magistrate Peter Law ruled in a closed-door hearing on Tuesday that the cleric could leave Hong Kong for five days and temporarily get his passport back, a source with knowledge of the matter told AFP. decision and who asked not to be identified.
Aged 90, the cardinal, one of the highest Catholic prelates in Asia, had his passport confiscated by the authorities after his arrest in May for “collusion with foreign forces” around the constitution of a aid fund for pro-democracy protesters.
However, the cardinal has not, at this stage, been charged with the offense which would result in him facing life imprisonment, according to the national security law imposed by Beijing in 2020.
With his co-defendants, he was tried in November only for failure to register the fund as a company, and sentenced to a fine. An appeal has been filed.
The funeral of Benedict XVI, who died on Saturday, will be conducted Thursday at the Vatican by his successor, Pope Francis.
Joseph Zen was created cardinal in 2006 by the former sovereign pontiff.
Several hours before Tuesday's hearing, he had published an article praising Benedict XVI, a "great defender of the truth" he said, and praising his achievements for the Chinese Church.
Like the cardinal, dozens of pro-democracy supporters face legal threats in Hong Kong. China is cracking down on dissent in the former British colony after major, sometimes violent, protests in 2019.