79 year old Cardinal on hunger strike

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun started a three-day fast in Hong Kong this morning, October 19, to express his “grief” at the recent decision by the Court of Final Appeal rejecting the Catholic Church’s appeal against the Government’s policy over the management of state-aided schools in this Special Autonomous Region of China.

“To show my grief, I will, for three days and three nights, abstain from food, excepting water and Holy Communion”, said the cardinal, who will be 80 in January.

The Chinese born-cardinal made clear, however, that the Catholic Church would “respect” and abide by the Court’s ruling, and would not engage in civil disobedience. “Since we have no intention to surrender any school, civil disobedience is out of the question”, he said.

Thee cardinal explained that the new policy introduced in 2004 “has seriously damaged” the Catholic Church’s “right of running schools” and, moreover, “is against what is being granted in the Basic Law” – Hong Kong’s Constitution.

The policy takes the management of schools away from sponsoring bodies, such as the Catholic Church, and gives it to an “Incorporated Management Committee”.

Though the Church, can nominate 60% of the Management Committee, the cardinal and other Church leaders anticipate that a strong, well trained minority, adverse to Catholicism, could effectively hijack the Management Committee’s work.

Under this new Ordinance, Zen said, “we would have no more, as in the past, the guarantee that we could run the schools according to our vision and mission”.

Led by Zen, then bishop of Hong Kong, it decided to challenge the Ordinance in the courts and seek an exemption for its schools. After 6 years litigation, the Church lost that battle on with the Court of Final Appeal’s ruling on October 3.

The Court’s decision “is final”, the cardinal told the press. Nevertheless, he hoped and prayed that with support “from Catholics and non-Catholic friends” the Church schools would still be able to provide “a truly Catholic education” to Hong Kong’s young people.

Full story: Vatican Insider
Image: CNA

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