Hong Kong’s outspoken Roman Catholic Cardinal Joseph Zen will leave the southern Chinese city this week to pay his respects to the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in Vatican City, his secretary said on Tuesday.
Zen, a 90-year-old retired bishop, will attend the funeral Mass, led by Pope Francis, at St. Peter’s Square on Thursday and return to Hong Kong on Saturday, the secretary said.
Benedict died on Saturday at age 95, 10 years after retiring from the papacy — the first to do so in 600 years — and after increasingly frail health.
Zen and five others in Hong Kong were fined in November after being found guilty of failing to register a now-defunct fund that aimed to help people arrested in widespread 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
He was first arrested in May last year on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces under a Beijing-imposed national security law. His arrest sent shockwaves through the Catholic community, although the Vatican only stated it was monitoring the development of the situation closely.
While Zen has not yet been charged with national security-related charges, he was charged with failing to properly register the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, which helped pay medical and legal fees for arrested protesters. It ceased operations in October 2021.