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Bishop Zen will fight to save Catholic schools

 The Bishop of Hong Kong, Mgr Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, has expressed concerns that the Chinese government is planning to take over Catholic schools in the territory the Missionary News Service report. In July, the 71 year old bishop led massive protests against the controversial anti-subversion bill, Article 23 which threatened to criminalise Christians and others including Falun Gong practitioners. The government postponed the legislation indefinitely. Now a fresh storm appears to be building up between the Chinese authorities and the Catholic Church. Bishop Zen said he fears the government is 'plotting ' against the church-run schools and has pledged to defend them. Speaking at the Congress' of PIME (Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions) in Milan yesterday, he said: "We have been working in the field of education for a long time in Hong Kong. Many schools were built in the 1950s and 1960s, following the expulsion of numerous missionaries from mainland China. Initially our schools were private, but at a certain point we realised that they were unable to compete with public institutions and risked becoming the exclusive prerogative of the rich. This was not what we wanted. So the British administration created the so-called 'subsidised' schools. In practice, we Catholics work for the government, which pays the teachers." But he explained, all 300 Catholic schools, which serve 25% of the student population were still run totally by the Church. A new consultative document drawn up by the government, "full of sophisms, manoeuvres and lacunae" in effect proposes a takeover. Bishop Zen said: "Many people are opposed to me raising my voice, but I think we have to speak out." Source: MISNA