Pope Benedict XVI has appointed a Chinese priest as secretary of the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples, the Vatican department responsible for missionary work which has jurisdiction over the Church in China.
Father Savio Hon Tai-fai
Salesian Father Savio Hon Tai-fai, 60, tolducanews.com he received notification today, just a few hours before the Holy See Press Office made the official announcement. He said his “first thing to do now is to pray for God’s grace to become a suitable tool.”
The Hong Kong-born priest believed his appointment showed “the pope’s fervent love for China.” The pope also elevates him to archbishop of the titular diocese of Sila.
Father Hon has known the theologian-pope for many years, since the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was president of the International Theological Commission. The pope often showed his concern for the China Church when they met, he said.
Father Hon anticipates that in his new role the Roman Curia may consult him on China Church affairs, thanks to his years of experiences as visiting professor to various seminaries in China.
Anthony Lam Sui-ki, senior researcher at the Hong Kong diocese’s Holy Spirit Study Centre, believes Father Hon is a very suitable candidate due to his solid theological foundations.
“As the second man of the congregation, his knowledge would help him handle a lot issues related to evangelization of faith,” Lam told ucanews.com.
Father Hon has also demonstrated good interpersonal skills in his previous positions as provincial superior and being member of pontifical commissions, he added.
Many mainland Chinese Catholics receive the news with great joy and feel it is a glory for the Chinese.
Profile of Father Hon:
- Born in Hong Kong in 1950
- Belongs to the Salesian Province of China (China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan). He made his first religious profession in 1969, the final profession in 1975 and was ordained a priest in 1982
- Obtained a doctorate in theology at the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome
- Held various positions in the Society of Don Bosco, including head of the China Province, provincial delegate in General Chapters and moderator of the 2002 General Chapter
- Works as professor of Holy Spirit Seminary College of Hong Kong diocese
- Works as a visiting professor at mainland Chinese seminaries
- Published a number of books on theology and was responsible for the Chinese translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
- Became a member of the Pontifical Academy of Theology in 1999 and the International Theological Commission since 2004