HONG KONG (AP) — The head of Hong Kong’s Catholic church said Tuesday that he visited China last week at the invitation of mainland officials, marking the end of a six-year ban on one of Beijing’s most outspoken critics.
Bishop Joseph Zen, who was barred from the mainland in 1998, met with government officials and Shanghai Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian during a three-day trip that ended Friday, the bishop said, declining to provide further details.
The Catholic leader also visited a seminary where he once taught, and visited his brother-in-law’s grave with his 80-year-old sister, a report from the South China Morning Post said.
Beijing doesn’t recognize the Vatican, and Christians on the mainland are only allowed to worship at state-sanctioned churches.
Zen is a vocal critic of China’s suppression of underground Catholic churches loyal to the Vatican, which scholars estimate serve about half of at least 12 million faithful in the country.