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06/01/2022 China (International Christian Concern) – The Diocese of Hong Kong has canceled its Tiananmen Square Massacre memorial for the first time ever. The brutal massacre occurred on June 4, 1989, when the People’s Liberation Army cracked down on student protesters advocating for democracy in Beijing. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people died.  

The diocese requested that those wishing to memorialize the massacre’s victims instead hold private services or pray in small groups. The cancellation comes after the recent arrest of Hong Kong’s most prominent Catholic clergyman, Cardinal Joseph Zen. 

“According to the Catholic faith, we can commemorate the deceased differently. Holding a Mass is, of course, one way,” the diocese said. “But just praying for the deceased in private or in small groups will also be very meaningful.” 

“Concerning Cardinal Joseph Zen, Bishop Emeritus of the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong, appeared today (24th May) before West Kowloon Court to answer charges of failing to register a fund, the Cardinal pleaded not guilty,” the Hong Kong Diocese wrote in a press release after Zen appeared in court. “The Diocese will closely monitor the development of the incident. Cardinal Zen is always in our prayers, and we invite all to pray for the Church!” 

Zen, former bishop of Hong Kong, appeared in court Tuesday after his arrest by Chinese Communist Party officials. 

The 90-year-old cardinal, who was arrested with four other pro-democracy advocates, was a trustee of a relief fund used to bail out protesters and pay legal fees. The five arrestees are charged with not registering the charity with the government. 

The decision to cancel the memorial was also heavily influenced by the new Beijing-imposed national security laws that are now in place in Hong Kong.  

Beijing has, in recent years, tightened control over the island territory and cracked down on dissent. With the July 2020 passage of “national security laws,” the Chinese government seized more power to suppress pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which it sees as a direct challenge to its power. 

Several prominent Catholic figures have been arrested for apparent violations of the new security laws, which criminalize new categories of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces. Anyone convicted under the law will receive a minimum of 10 years in prison, with the possibility of a life sentence. 

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