Our eyewitness reporter in this case has the following to say:
“It is Hong Kong time 11:00 a.m. Saturday, 22 October, 2011. About half an hour ago Cardinal Joseph Zen ended his 3 day and 3 night public fast (no food, only mineral water and Holy Communion). This 72 hour fast expressed Cardinal Zen’s grief at the grievous damage done to the Hong Kong education system by the Amended Education Ordinance 2004. For seven years, the Catholic Church in Hong Kong has been trying, by legal means. to prevent this Amended Ordinance from coming into effect. Finally, a few days ago, the Court of Final Appeal turned down the Catholic Diocese’s appeal against the Ordinance, opening the way for its legal implementation.
Cardinal Zen’s fasting ended with a report about the Cardinal’s health, a few words by Cardinal Zen, a prayer service, and a final Question & Answer session with the Hong Kong media, who had followed this unique event with great interest. About a hundred people were present.
The health report was needed, given the general concern for the health of 79 year old Cardinal Zen, who suffers from a heart condition and from diabetes. The health report revealed a striking fact: throughout the fasting, the Cardinal’s health remained remarkably stable and normal. All the faithful present drew a breath of relief. During the fast, people from all walks of life showed up before the closed entrance of Salesian Missionary House, outside which Cardinal Zen was keeping his fast, among them the three Episcopal Vicars of the Hong Kong Diocese, several members of the Hong Kong Legislative Council, diocesan and religious priests, faithful young and old, and many children. Salesian Missionary House is especially grateful to the members of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese who shouldered all the burden of securing safety and order during the Cardinal’s fast.
In his short address, the Cardinal expressed his surprise at the normal state of his health. He had intended to suffer a little physically to accompany the grief of his soul, but this actually did not happen. He expressed his gratitude to all who had prayed for him and to all who had to shoulder extra work because of his public fast. He expressed also his trust in God, who will help the Church in Hong Kong continue her educational service within the constraints of the new law. He concluded with a prayer to God, invoking for all Hong Kong people a deeper sense of justice and solidarity with the poor, the needy, and the young”.