Hong Kong Cardinal at Papal Funeral
Pope Francis’ funeral on Saturday, April 3 was a unique event in many ways. Not only was it the first time a Pope was buried in over a century, it was also the first time a Hong Kong cardinal attended a papal funeral. Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, who is the former Bishop of Hong Kong, was present to represent the diocese. This marks an important moment in Vatican-Chinese relations, as there was no representative from mainland China at the funeral.
China’s Absence at the Funeral
The absence of a Chinese representative at the funeral is significant and not surprising, given the friction between the Vatican and China. The two sides have been at odds since the Chinese government implemented its policy of religious autonomy in 2018 which banned Chinese Catholics from recognizing the Pope as the religious leader of the Church. This was a major blow to the Vatican-China relations and they have been on the rocks ever since. There are also rumors that the Chinese government is pressuring the Vatican to recognize the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association instead of the Pope.
Hong Kong’s Relationship with the Vatican
The presence of the Hong Kong cardinal at the funeral is a sign of the strong relationship between Hong Kong and the Vatican. Unlike mainland China, the Hong Kong government has maintained a close relationship with the Vatican and has allowed its citizens to worship freely. Hong Kong is also the only place in China where Catholic priests can be ordained, and there are several Catholic schools in the city.
The Presence of a Taiwanese Representative at the Funeral
In addition to the Hong Kong cardinal, an unofficial representative from Taiwan was also present at the funeral. This is an important moment for Taiwanese-Vatican relations, as it marks the first time that Taiwan has been officially represented at a papal funeral. Taiwan has long been a supporter of the Catholic Church, and the presence of the Taiwanese representative at the funeral shows that the Vatican values its relationship with Taiwan.
The Significance of the Cardinal’s Presence
The presence of the Hong Kong cardinal at the funeral is significant for two reasons. First, it shows that the Vatican is still willing to maintain a connection with China, despite the rocky relations between the two sides. The fact that the Vatican chose to recognize the Hong Kong cardinal, instead of a representative from mainland China, shows that it is still willing to work with China, even if it is on a limited basis. Second, the presence of the Hong Kong cardinal at the funeral is also a sign of solidarity with the people of Hong Kong. The cardinal’s presence shows that the Vatican recognizes the struggles of the Hong Kong people, and is willing to stand with them in their fight for freedom and democracy.
The Future of Vatican-Chinese Relations
The future of Vatican-Chinese relations is uncertain, but it is clear that the presence of the Hong Kong cardinal at the funeral is a sign of hope. The Vatican’s decision to recognize the Hong Kong cardinal instead of a representative from mainland China shows that it is still willing to maintain a relationship with China. This could be a sign that the two sides are beginning to move towards a more peaceful and productive relationship.
The presence of the Hong Kong cardinal at the funeral is a significant moment in Vatican-Chinese relations. The decision to recognize the Hong Kong cardinal, instead of a representative from mainland China, shows that the Vatican is still willing to maintain a relationship with China, even if it is on a limited basis. It also shows that the Vatican is willing to stand with the people of Hong Kong in their fight for freedom and democracy.