Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco will hold a eucharistic Holy Hour and rosary Monday evening for the people of Hong Kong, directing prayers to leading freedom advocates Cardinal Joseph Zen and Jimmy Lai in particular.

The Holy Hour will take place at 6:30 p.m. PST at St. Anne of the Sunset Church in San Francisco.

As the Chinese Communist Party attempts to tighten its hold on every aspect of culture and life in China and Hong Kong, religious freedom in the region is increasingly threatened.

Because Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, Hong Kongers have historically enjoyed greater freedom of religion than on the Chinese mainland, where religious believers of all stripes are routinely surveilled and restricted by the communist government. But in recent years, Beijing has tightened control over religious practices in Hong Kong under the guise of protecting national security.

As the former bishop of Hong Kong, Zen, 91, an outspoken pro-democracy advocate, was arrested in May 2022 by Hong Kong authorities, convicted of improperly registering a pro-democracy fund, and ordered to pay a fine, which he has appealed.

Jimmy Lai Chee-ying has been jailed since December 2020 for his involvement in pro-democracy protests and faces the possibility of being sentenced to life in prison under national security charges. Lai is an entrepreneur and billionaire media mogul who converted to Catholicism in 1997. The newspaper he founded, Apple Daily, had distinguished itself over the years as a strongly pro-democracy publication critical of the Chinese government in Beijing before it was forced to shut down.

On Dec. 13, 2022, a Hong Kong court delayed Lai’s national security trial, initially scheduled for that month, until September 2023.

Cordileone, whose archdiocese sits within a metropolitan area that is nearly 30% Chinese, has continuously called for prayer for the people of China and Hong Kong.

Following Zen’s conviction in November 2022, Cordileone tweeted his support, saying: “Cardinal Zen, we do not know what lies ahead for you in this unjust world, but know that we love you and pray for you. And we know that God will give you your reward.”

Original story by Catholic News Agency – this from Catholic World Report.