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HK Catholics ‘have China-Vatican role’

Archbishop Hon: faithful can help mend rift between Rome and Beijing

Bishop John Tong Hon of Hong Kong (left) and Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-fai at the February 20 Mass Bishop John Tong Hon of Hong Kong (left) and Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-fai at the February 20 Mass
  • ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong
  • February 21, 2011
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Salesian Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-fai has called on Hong Kong’s Catholics to act as bridge to foster China-Vatican relations.

China and the Vatican have a similar pyramid-like political system, but have different cultural and religious backgrounds, the archbishop said. Faithful or Church groups from outside can serve as “a bridge to foster dialogue, mutual understanding and even agreement between them," he said

The new secretary of the Holy See’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples is making a week-long visit to the place of his birth and is also due to visit Taiwan on February 23.

He held a discussion with about 100 local Catholics yesterday before attending a welcoming Mass at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, hosted by Hong Kong diocese.

Responding to a layman who asked “what can Hong Kong Catholics do for China?” the archbishop cited the words of Pope John Paul II suggesting dialogue and the sharing of resources with mainland Catholics and encouraging forgiveness among them.

He said the Hong Kong faithful could contact both the official and underground Church communities and help reconciliation.

Since Hong Kong Catholics are outsiders, they are not involved in the conflicts arising from being forced to obey an independent Church or feel a sense of betrayal resulting from political turmoil since the 1950s, he said.

Some concrete steps have been taken recently, he said such as Taiwan’s Fujen Catholic University enrolling priests and laypeople from the mainland.

“If in my post I could serve as a bridge, I would be happy to do so,” he declared.

One middle-aged mainland laywoman congratulated the archbishop on his appointment and expressed her wish to see the normalization of China-Vatican relations.

Archbishop Hon responded by saying the Vatican should be cautious when negotiating with China.

“If the Vatican makes too many concessions just for normalization or if opportunists hold sway in the talks, the very nature of the China Church could be distorted,” he stressed.

At the beginning of the evening Mass, Bishop John Tong Hon of Hong Kong welcomed the archbishop. Nearly 70 priests concelebrated the Mass. More than 1,000 laypeople, including some from mainland China, packed the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception.

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