Hong Kong cardinal deemed too old to go to family synod

The head of the largest Chinese Catholic diocese in the world will be absent from the synod on the family because he has been deemed to be too old.

Cardinal John Tong Hon of Hong Kong was not invited to participate in October’s synod because he is older than 75, UCA News reported.

“Now I know that I am not going to the synod,” the 76-year-old cardinal told ucanews.com in a late August interview.

The normal retirement age for bishops is 75.

The cardinal said he was told by a Vatican representative that the Vatican “does not want to make any exceptions” regarding age.

Cardinal Tong said he was unaware if another representative from Hong Kong was chosen in his place.

He knew only that he was “disqualified by age”, he said, laughing.

“They will find somebody . . . if they need somebody,” the cardinal said.

Pope Francis is 78 years old.

Synod participants in general are elected by local bishops’ conferences.

Hong Kong, a former British colony and the largest Chinese diocese in the world with a Catholic population of 560,000, remains a mission area and does not have its own bishops’ conference.

Some Hong Kong Catholics expressed disappointment that the diocese may not be represented at the synod.

“It is a pity that no one from Hong Kong is going,” said Francis Law, a member of a Chinese Facebook page called “Catholic Parents”.

Mr Law said Hong Kong Catholics could contribute to discussions at the synod, expressing concerns about recent developments on same-sex unions around the world, particularly in the United States.

“These kinds of voices needs to be brought to the synod,” said Mr Law, who is a member of the Diocesan Youth Commission.

Cardinal Tong participated in last year’s extraordinary family synod.

The cardinal said he agreed family and marriage are the most fundamental issues facing the Church and believes the synod fathers will find ways to resolve outstanding issues in line with the Pope’s vision.


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