The Pope’s Betrayal of Cardinal Zen, by Phil Lawler

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Cardinal Joseph Zen faces trial next month. (photo: Rock Li via Wikimedia / (CC BY-SA 3.0))

By Phil Lawler, Catholic Culture, Sept. 21, 2022

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at

The trial of Cardinal Joseph Zen has been postponed, but the indomitable 90-year-old prelate will face judgment soon enough, under the draconian new “security laws” imposed on Hong Kong by the Chinese government.

Meanwhile Pope Francis faces his own judgment, in the court of public opinion, for his failure to defend Cardinal Zen—or, for that matter, to criticize the regime that is prosecuting him. When questioned about the trial, by a reporter who accompanied him on his flight home from Kazakhstan, the Pontiff gave this utterly unsatisfactory reply:

Cardinal Zen is going to trial these days, I think. And he says what he feels, and you can see that there are limitations there. More than qualifying, because it is difficult, and I do wish to qualify, they are impressions, and I try to support the path of dialogue. …

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