Print Version    Email to Friend
Honorary doctorate for Archbishop Hon

TAIPEI (AsiaNews): Fu Jen University in Taipei, Taiwan, conferred an honorary doctorate on the Hong Kong-born secretary to the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-fai, on Decmeber 1.

“This doctorate,” Archbishop Hon said, “makes me even more united with the Holy See in promoting the progress of culture and integrate Christian culture and Chinese culture.”

The solemn ceremony took place in the university’s Cardinal Cushing Auditorium, located a few kilometres from Taipei. Paul Cardinal Shan Kuo-hsi, formerly archbishop of Kaohsiung, Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, the former bishop of Hong Kong, together with Bishop Peter Liu and Bishop John Hung, from Taipei, members of the faculty and the ambassador from the Republic of China to the Holy See, Larry Wang, also attended the ceremony.

After a moment of prayer, various people spoke of Archbishop Hon’s commitment as a Salesian priest and professor in Hong Kong and China until his appointment as the highest ranking Chinese national in the Vatican.

All stressed that welcoming him into the faculty of Fu Jen University will enhance the mission for which the university was founded, to evangelise the world through Chinese culture.

The president of Fu Jen, Father Bernard Li, pointed out that cultural commitment is also expressed in personal testimony and cited Cardinal Shan who, at the age of 90 and fresh from an operation for cancer, still spends himself on behalf of the Church’s mission in Taiwan,

He also pointed to the recent three-day fast taken on by Cardinal Zen to express his grief over the decision of the Court of Final Appeal against the diocese over the management of Catholic schools in the territory.

Archbishop Hon devoted his dissertation to the figure of Archbishop Celso Costantini, the first apostolic delegate to China, who was instrumental in the founding of Fu Jen University.

He illustrated the love of the Italian diplomat for the Chinese people and the culture, and his condemnation of western powers and their expansionist designs on China, as well as his generosity to the poor, his continuing attempt to present Christianity not as a faith of the colonialists, but as the revelation of Christ, the fulfilment of the desire of Chinese religion.

Quoting a Chinese diplomat, who later became a Catholic and joined the Benedictines, Lou Tseng-Tsiang, Archbishop Hon linked Taoist belief with the Catholic faith, saying that the phrase, “In the beginning was the Tao and the Tao became flesh... (because) Christ is the Tao which recapitulates all wisdom.”

Visibly moved, at the end of the ceremony, the archbishop told AsiaNews, “I’m really honoured by this gesture for two reasons, first, because this is a university founded by the Holy See in 1925, with a very specific purpose: intellectual formation for lay people and priests. This doctorate unites me even closer to the Holy See’s commitment in promoting the advancement of culture and its integration with Chinese culture.”

He added, “The second reason is that the founder of Fu Jen was Celso Cardinal Costantini, apostolic delegate to China at the time. The discovery of this figure was a wonder for me. His mentality expresses love for China, giving birth to a passion for Chinese Christian art and style, his attention to great and small personalities, just like Matteo Ricci.”

He continued, “All this makes him a very timely and constructive figure for everyone who wants to be a missionary to China today. Cardinal Costantini was my predecessor in a certain sense (as secretary of Propaganda Fide in 1935) in his commitment to this university and I am happy to be part of this tradition.”

Archbishop Hon said of relations between China and Christianity, “Regarding the future for a relationship between Chinese culture and Christian culture, this work has no obstacles in Taiwan. There are problems in China, different problems with different aspects.”

He added, “In Taiwan, there is the internal challenge of a secularism that is very strong in society. In China, secularism is not strong. Actually, you only have to look at the number of conversions to Catholicism. It seems that this is easier.

“But in China, the external challenges and obstacles of a political nature that are placed in front of faith are stronger. The important thing is that those who believe remain loyal to the pope and their Christian identity,” he concluded.

More from this section