CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Cardinal Tong honoured by Knights of Malta

HONG KONG (SE): The Sovereign Military Order of Malta (Knights of Malta) conferred the insignia of Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion on John Cardinal Tong Hon, the bishop of Hong Kong, during a Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on June 29.

Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung, the spiritual director of the Hong Kong community of the Knights of Malta, blessed the insignia while Denis Chang Khen-lee, the president of the Hong Kong community, invested the cardinal with the honour.

The congregation then joined in praying the Litany of the Saints and Cardinal Tong encouraged people to bear witness to the mercy of God through service to the poor and the sick.

He shared that when he was young he saw American missionaries taking care of injured soldiers and refugees in mainland China, which he said inspired him to do the same and he  believes that it sowed the seeds of his vocation as a priest.

Chang pointed out that the Knights of Malta are dedicated to humanitarian work. He noted that there are now 18 knights in Hong Kong engaged in educational service and support of the physically disadvantaged.

He added that in partnership with Caritas they also contribute to programmes aimed at assisting marginalised groups in society, as well as migrants, the poor and the sick.

He described the insignia conferred on Cardinal Tong as a sign that the Knights of Malta recognise the various services to the needy performed by the Hong Kong community.

The Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion is an honour given to cardinals. Robert Cardinal Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, was also invested with the same rank in June.

The Knights of Malta came to the fore as a group providing medical care to pilgrims during the First Crusade, but has developed into a modern and highly sophisticated organisation providing medical and educational services in some extremely politically sensitive situations.

It has diplomatic alliances with over 100 countries and an observer status at multiple intergovernmental panels. Its Grand Master is afforded the privilege of a head of state when he travels.

The Grand Master, along with the Grand Commander and the Grand Chancellor travel on passports issued by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta under an arrangement with the Italian government.

Its main charter remains providing assistance to the wounded in wartime situations and brokering ceasefires.

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