CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Cardinal Tong talks about meeting the new pope

HONG KONG (SE): On is return to Hong Kong from the conclave on March 19, John Cardinal Tong Hon shared that he had the opportunity to speak with the newly-elected Pope Francis on three occasions.

He related that within an hour or so of his election on March 13, the new pope greeted all the cardinals one by one inside the Sistine Chapel.


“When I greeted and embraced him, I offered him a small bronze statuette of Our Lady of China and told him, ‘The Catholic people in China love and pray for you and ask for your love and prayers’.”


Cardinal Tong said that Pope Francis accepted his gift with a broad smile and told him that he knows the Catholic people of China have on many occasions given strong testimony to the faith.


The cardinal added that just two days later he met Pope Francis in the lift at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the guest house where the cardinals were housed during the conclave, as they happened to be billeted on the same floor.


“Pope Francis thanked me again for the statuette of Our Lady of China, saying that he had placed it in his room to remind himself to pray for the Catholic people of China,” Cardinal Tong related.


He added that Pope Francis went on to say that he had great admiration for the missionary spirit of St. Francis Xavier and again thanked him for the small, but significant gift.


Cardinal Tong added that later that morning Pope Francis was receiving guests. “When my turn came, I told him that I was grateful for his love and prayer for the Catholic people of China,” Cardinal Tong said.


He noted that in acknowledging his comment, “He kissed my hand to express his love for the Church in China. I was deeply moved and touched by his action and response on those three occasions.”


Cardinal Tong was the only Chinese cardinal voting at the conclave.



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