CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Bishop not on list for family synod

HONG KONG (UCAN): The bishop of Hong Kong, which is the largest Chinese diocese in the world, will be not be attending the World Synod of Bishops in October, because he is past the age limit of 75.

John Cardinal Tong Hon was not invited to participate in the Synod on Marriage and Family Life. “Now I know that I am not going to the synod,” the 76-year-old bishop of Hong Kong said.

He explained he was told by a Vatican representative that the Vatican does not want to make any exceptions on age. Although he is past the usual retirement age for a bishop, he has been asked to continue in his position for three years past his 75th birthday.

Cardinal Tong said he was not aware whether another representative from Hong Kong had been invited in his place or not, but he does know that he was only left off the list because of his age.

“They will find somebody… if they need somebody,” the cardinal said.

The delegates to the synod are generally elected by local bishops’ conferences, but for historical and political reasons, Hong Kong, which has a Catholic population of 560,000, remains a mission area and does not belong to a bishops’ conference.

Some people in the diocese expressed disappointment that they may not be represented at the synod.

“It is a pity that no one from Hong Kong is going,” Francis Law, a member of a Chinese Facebook page called Catholic Parents, said.

Law commented that Hong Kong Catholics could contribute to discussions at the synod, expressing concerns about recent developments on same-sex unions around the world, particularly in the United States of America, which legalised same-sex marriage through a Supreme Court decision in June.

“These kinds of voices need to be brought to the synod,” Law, who is a member of the Diocesan Youth Commission, said.

Cardinal Tong did participate in last year’s Synod on Marriage and Family Life, which paved the way for the second stage to be held in October.


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