Retired Hong Kong Catholic leader Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun has been in hospital for over a week, with the 91-year-old saying he has been sick since the day he attended the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican last month.
Zen, who is under investigation for possible national security law breaches, was given permission by the West Kowloon Magistrates' Court to go to Rome last month to attend the funeral of Pope Benedict, who died on December 31, aged 95.
In a Facebook
post on Tuesday, Zen recounted his trip to Rome and his recent health condition.
"As if by a miracle, God allowed me to go to Rome. The court allowed the police to get my passport back and the airline just got a flight which meant I could make it in time for the funeral," he wrote.
He said the four-day trip to Rome was "a way to show our love to Pope Benedict XVI on behalf of all the Catholics of Hong Kong and China."
He added: "I was able to attend the funeral mass and put my head against Benedict's casket in mourning. After his burial, I had an opportunity to go down to the basement of St Peter's Basilica and pray in the place where Benedict's casket was laid."
But Zen also said he had been suffering from stiff shoulders and back pain since before his departure to Rome and had been staying at the monastery for treatment after returning to Hong Kong on January 7.
His situation worsened in the following days with his hands starting to swell up, Zen added. Later, he experienced shortness of breath on the first day of the Lunar New Year, which saw him admitted to the hospital.
"The symptoms got me thinking about the lung illness that sent me to the hospital for three weeks in 2016," he wrote.
"Luckily, further inspections have confirmed the infection isn't the same.
"I want to thank all the nuns and doctors at the hospital who cared for me and ran all kinds of tests, insisting to see how this body of more than 90 years has been faring. But don't forget that we are never apart in prayer. I will keep praying for you all and I ask you to remember me in your prayers.
"At the beginning of this New Year, I dare not wish you all happiness, but instead I wish you peace."
Zen was among five trustees of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund arrested by national security police in May 2022 for conspiracy to commit "collusion with foreign forces" - an offense under the national security law that carries a sentence of up to life imprisonment.
The other four trustees of the defunct protest fund included former legislators Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, 74, and Cyd Ho Sau-lan, 68, Cantopop singer Denise Ho Wan-see, 45, and cultural studies scholar Hui Po-keung, 62.
They were also released on bail earlier last month.