UCAN REPORT: The new secretary of the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples, Archbishop-elect Savio Hon Tai-fai, will be ordained by Pope Benedict XVI on Feb. 5, the third day of the Chinese Lunar New Year.
The pope will ordain him, two apostolic nuncios and two other secretaries of the Vatican dicasteries together in Rome.
The Salesian family here will organize a delegation to Rome.
On Jan. 9, about 400 local Catholics bid an early farewell to the archbishop-elect with a Mass, a get-together and a dinner. Another gathering is scheduled for Jan. 15.
Archbishop-elect Savio Hon Tai-fai (left) and Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun attend a farewell gathering on Jan.
Some Catholics have expressed hopes that the archbishop-elect could help improve China-Vatican relations and be pro-active in investigating mainland China’s bishop candidates as the congregation he serves is responsible for missionary work and has jurisdiction over the Church in China.
As a Chinese priest assuming the most senior post ever in the Roman Curia, Archbishop-elect Hon told ucanews.com recently that he has felt “pressure every day” since the announcement on Dec. 23.
“I’m reluctant to leave my hometown and take the Vatican post, but I will devote every effort to follow God’s will,” he said.
He said he would pray for “humility to put down oneself, wisdom to discern God’s will, patience to respect the others’ pace, joy to share with others, strength to complete his duty, charity to treat the others well and perseverance to seek the Church’s greatest interests.”
He admitted that his teacher and confrere Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun’s deep insight and sense of justice had inspired him.
“We should respect the underground Catholics who have been loyal to their faith and understand the value of their existence,” he said.
“It is too hasty and one-sided to ask them to join the ‘open’ Church because of problem in priestly formation and other difficulties that they encounter.”
On guarding Church principles such as bishop ordination without papal approval, “I am a hardliner,” he said.
After his ordination, Archbishop-elect Hon will return to Hong Kong for celebrations on Feb. 19 and 20. “I hope to share the joy also with the mainland Catholics,” he noted.
The 60-year-old archbishop-elect was invited to teach at mainland seminaries and give spiritual guidance to students occasionally from early 1990s to 2003. In recent years, he occasionally gave lectures for mainland priests.