Cardinal Zen meets Pope Francis, prays at Benedict XVI’s tomb

Cardinal Zen meets Pope Francis, prays at Benedict XVI’s tomb

Cardinal Joseph Zen. / Rock Li via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Rome Newsroom, Jan 7, 2023 / 03:10 am (CNA).

Cardinal Joseph Zen met privately with Pope Francis on Friday after attending Benedict XVI’s funeral.

The Hong Kong authorities temporarily released the passport of the 90-year-old cardinal, who was arrested last year under the city’s national security law, to allow him to travel to Rome.

According to America Magazine, Zen met Pope Francis in the afternoon on Jan. 6, in the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse.

“It was wonderful. He was so very warm!” the Chinese cardinal told America Magazine.

Zen, formerly the Bishop of Hong Kong, arrived in St. Peter’s Square dressed in red vestments and walking with a cane to concelebrate the funeral Mass of Benedict XVI on Jan. 5.

On Jan. 6, the feast of the Epiphany, the cardinal visited the tomb of Benedict XVI in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica, before leaving Rome on the morning of Jan. 7, America reported.

“Our beloved Pope Emerito Benedict XVI, please continue to pray for us in heaven,” Zen wrote on Twitter the morning of Jan. 7.

The cardinal also posted photos showing him embracing Benedict XVI’s closed coffin and greeting Pope Francis in front of Michelangelo’s Pietà on the morning of the funeral.

A magistrate ruled on Jan. 3 that the Chinese cardinal would be allowed to leave Hong Kong for five days with his previously confiscated passport temporarily returned to him.

Zen reflected on the legacy of Benedict XVI following the death of the pope emeritus on Dec. 31, 2022.

The cardinal wrote on his blog that Benedict XVI was a “great defender of the truth” who took “extraordinary” actions to support the Church in China, despite many setbacks.

“As a member of the Chinese Church, I am immensely grateful to Pope Benedict for things he has done that he did not do for other Churches,” Zen wrote.

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