HONG KONG (SE): Bishop John Tong Hon will become a cardinal at a ceremony conducted by Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican, on February 18.
He will become the seventh Chinese cardinal and the first Hong Kong-born person to be elevated to the rank.
He has been preceded as a Chinese cardinal by Thomas Cardinal Tian Keng-hsin, who became the bishop of Beijing and left China in 1949. He died in 1967. He was ordained a priest in Rome in 1939 by Pope Pius XII.
He was followed by Paul Cardinal Yu Pin, who was ordained a priest in Hankow in 1936 and later became the bishop of Nanjing.
He also left China in 1949 and went to Taipei, where he became the vicar capitulator of Taipei. He died in 1978 during the conclave in the Vatican that elected Pope John Paul II.
The late John Baptist Cardinal Wu Cheng-chung became the first cardinal in Hong Kong. Born in Guangdong, China, he was ordained a priest in Hong Kong in 1952, but later worked in the United States of America (US).
Cardinal Wu died in office in 2002 and was succeeded as bishop by his coadjutor, Shanghai-born Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, who was made a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI on 25 March 2006.
Cardinal Zen currently lives at the headquarters of the Salesian congregation in Hong Kong and turned 80 on March 13 this year, thus eliminating him from being a member of a conclave to elect a pope in the future.
Paul Cardinal Shan Kuo-hsi, the former archbishop of Kaohsuing in Taiwan, was born in what is now called the province of Henan, China.
He was ordained a priest in 1955 in Baguio, The Philippines, before going to work in Taiwan. He was ordained a bishop for the diocese of Hualien in 1979 and later transferred to Kaohsuing in 1991.
Ignatius Cardinal Kung Pin-mei was the bishop of Shanghai. He was appointed in 1950 and technically remained the bishop until his death in 2000 at the age of 98 in the United States of America, where he had founded the Cardinal Kung Foundation to support the Church in China.
Bishop Kung was arrested in 1955 and spent 31 years in prison until he was released in 1986. However, he was then placed under house arrest for a further two years.
He was named a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1979 in pectore (secretly) and did not learn about his elevation until informed by the pope in 1988, after he left China.
Cardinal Kung was already too old to vote in a conclave and the news of him being made a cardinal was not made public until 1991.
He was also made the administrator of Nanjing and Suzhou dioceses in 1951.