When asked about the Catholic Church's support for the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen, the Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, said that neither the Vatican nor Pope Francis has said a word, and added that the church in China has been sold out to the government.
"No word has come out of the Holy See since the beginning of this mobilization," said Cardinal Zen in an interview with La Vie. "Rome no longer dares to criticize the Chinese government, whom I consider to have sold [out] the Chinese Church."
As for the Catholic Church in China in general, "everything passes by Cardinal Parolin, the Secretary of State of the Holy See," said the cardinal. "Know that the situation of Christians in China is terrible.There was first this secret agreement, in September 2018, on the appointment of bishops."
"Why secret?" he said. "Then, not only the excommunicated official bishops were reinstated in the Church, but they were ordained again! Yet they showed no sign of repentance. And for two of them, everyone knows they have women [girlfriends] and children."
Since the 1950s there have been two Catholic churches in China -- the official, government-run church called the Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA) and the real, underground Catholic Church, which has been persecuted for decades.
In September 2018, the Vatican reportedly signed a deal with the Communist Chinese government to bring the two churches together. However, the actual document has not been released by Rome or Beijing and long-time faithful Catholics, including Cardinal Zen, have been critical of the new arrangement.
The ongoing protests in Hong Kong, which started in June 2019, have involved up to two million people at times. The citizens initially protested a proposed extradition bill with China for people accused of crimes, and then the protests expanded to demands for greater democratic reforms.