My Take

Hong Kong's Cardinal Zen and the art of anti-communism

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 July, 2014, 4:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 July, 2014, 3:48pm

A fanatic has been described as one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.

An ideologue is someone who is ever alert to his enemy's atrocities but never his own camp's.

Our very own Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun is both a fanatic and an ideologue. Everything traces back to his anti-communism, including his fight for democracy in Hong Kong and his fervent wish to see China's government collapse.

The new pope has worked to improve relations with Beijing. Now there is talk of a visit. And before you even say Francis, our good cardinal has jumped into the fray to try to sabotage the diplomatic outreach. "Don't come," he said. "You would be manipulated."

Given the kind of bankers, diplomats and mafia dons the Vatican has at its service, this spiritual state is well versed in the ways of the world. So don't you worry your pretty old head about the boss being taken advantage of?

Zen said the faithful in China were persecuted and Beijing continued to appoint its own illegitimate bishops. All true. But could it be that antagonism with the Vatican was a factor in this? What's wrong with seeking improved diplomatic relations with Beijing? The Vatican, after all, is by international convention a state. So why not? Well, it's Zen's all-embracing anti-communism again. But nary a word from Zen against the Vatican's dirty internal politics and corruption or its tolerance of thousands of paedophile priests over decades and across continents.

The shallowness of Zen's democratic commitment can be seen by his "not in my backyard" attitude towards local school reform. For more than a decade, the cardinal has been the single greatest obstacle to introducing accountability and better governance in Catholic schools.

The government may have won in the top court but he has succeeded in stalling the implementation of basic school-based management requirements in Catholic schools. And the Education Bureau is too clobbered to enforce them. Why this staunch opposition? Because Zen thinks the government would slip in communist propaganda if the church couldn't keep dogmatic control. It's that anti-communism again.