Cardinal Joseph Zen, who was arrested under Hong Kong’s national security law last year, was granted permission by a court on Tuesday to attend the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. to attend, a source told Portal AFP.
Judge Peter Law ruled in a closed-door hearing on Tuesday that the cleric could leave Hong Kong for five days and have his passport back temporarily, a source with knowledge of the matter told AFP.
The 90-year-old cardinal, one of Asia’s top Catholic prelates, had his passport confiscated after his arrest in May by authorities over “collusion with foreign forces” to set up a relief fund for pro-democracy protesters.
However, the cardinal has not yet been charged with this offense at this point, which would carry him a life sentence under the national security law imposed by Beijing in 2020.
He and his co-defendants were charged in November only with failing To the fund as a company and were fined. An appeal has been lodged.
The funeral of Benedict XVI, who died on Saturday. will be conducted on Thursday at the Vatican by his successor, Pope Francis.
Joseph Zen was made a cardinal by the former sovereign pope in 2006.
Hours before Tuesday’s hearing, he had published an article praising Benedict XVI, who he said was a “great defender of the truth,” and praising his achievements for the Chinese church.
Like the cardinal, dozens of pro-democracy supporters in Hong Kong are facing legal threats. China is cracking down on dissent in the former British colony after large, sometimes violent, protests in 2019.