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    » 10/10/2012, 00.00


    Card Tong: evangelizing is a challenge and an opportunity, and many convert, in China too

    The cardinal, bishop of Hong Kong, is one of the three presidents of the Synod, chosen by Benedict XVI. In his introduction to the working session, the stressed the commitment to Evangelization in Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China. Every year there are thousands of adult baptisms. The value of witness of the laity.

    Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Synod on the New Evangelization has just started, but already the difficult situation of secularization, lack of certainties and the spiritual quest is being seen not only a challenge, but a good opportunity for Christian witness. This was underlined by Card. John Tong, Bishop of Hong Kong, introducing the work of the Synod in the first session, held on 8 October. The Cardinal is one of the three presidents of the assembly, chosen by Benedict XVI. He recalled the missionary task of the Church in Hong Kong, which receives every year about three thousand candidates for baptism, with similar numbers in Macau and China, thanks to the help and the testimony of many lay people.

    Here is the full text of Card. Tong's intervention:

    Dear Holy Father, On behalf of the Synod Fathers and participants, I would like to extend our heartfelt greetings and deep gratitude to you for inviting us to this Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith is really an urgent topic, because many people in the world still do not know Our Lord Jesus Christ, and many of the baptized have given up the practice of their faith. Fifty years ago, the Second Vatican Council encouraged us to launch out into the deep (Lk 5:4). Today, in a similar way, we must take the Early Church community (Acts 2:42-47) as our model of evangelization. The members of that community possessed three qualities which can be expressed in three Greek words: didache, koinonia and diakonia. Didache means doctrine, which is not just a theory, but rather a personal taking on of the incarnate, crucified and risen Jesus Christ. Koinonia means communion on different levels: fundamentally with God; and then with all the members of the Church; and further with the people of the whole world, particularly with the poor. Diakonia means service of which Jesus instructs us not to be served but to serve and even to the total gift of self, leading to the cross. (cf. Mt 20:28)

    These three qualities have been manifested in Hong Kong, Macao and Mainland China. In Hong Kong, before the return of the sovereignty of the city to China in 1997, many families faced crises caused by fear of living under the Communist regime. The term "crisis" in the Chinese language is made up of two characters "danger" and "opportunity." Thus, facing the crisis of insecurity, even non-practicing Catholics returned to the Church for spiritual support. And many faithful attended catechesis, Bible and theology courses to deepen their own faith and to be evangelizers. Today our diocese has more than a thousand well-trained volunteer-catechists. This year more than three thousand adults received baptism at the Easter Vigil. Macao, our neighboring diocese, has made similar efforts and has seen an increase in the number of baptisms in recent years. In northern China, a parish priest in the countryside shared with me his experience of evangelization. After much prayer, he decided to divide the parishioners into two groups with different missions. He gave the newly baptized the mission to bring their non-Catholic friends and relatives to learn the catechesis, and to the long-time Catholics the mission of teaching the catechism to the catechumens. During the teaching, this priest prayed fervently in the church.

    Eventually, the parish witnessed more than a thousand baptisms a year. Among the characteristics of didache, koinonia and diakonia as exemplified in the Early Church and reflected in the testimonies given above, didache seems to me the most important, because God works through us as His witnesses. Nowadays, facing a materialistic culture in the world, and the problem of many fallen-away Catholics in the Church, we must be zealous witnesses of our faith. We must also pay attention to the youth, as the Holy Father frequently reminds us: "Let the young people be evangelizers of the youth". God's salvific plan is amazing. I am sure that, with faith, hope and love, we will succeed in our mission of evangelization. Dear Holy Father, the Synod Fathers and participants, thank you for your kind attention. Looking forward to hearing your testimonies.


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    See also

    17/02/2012 VATICAN - CHINA-HONG KONG
    Bishop John Tong, a new cardinal for Hong Kong and China
    The bishop of Hong Kong underlines the importance of the Church of Hong Kong in helping the Church in China. "Working together with Card. Zen (Hong Kong) and Card. Shan (Taiwan). The importance of the Vatican Commission in implementing the guidelines of the Pope's Letter to Chinese Catholics (including the rejection of the Patriotic Association, "incompatible with Catholic doctrine"). Sorrow for bishops and priests who have disappeared in police custody or in labour camps.

    06/01/2012 HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
    Cardinal-designate John Tong: a confirmation of HK’s role as "bridge" between Beijing & Vatican
    Hopes of mending relations between China and the Vatican, at a historical low in recent decades. But John Tong is also "a man of principles," just like Cardinal. Zen.

    07/03/2012 HONG KONG - CHINA
    Card Tong: Pray for China-Vatican dialogue and for our role as a bridge-church
    The newly created cardinal outlines his commitment to the Church in China and Hong Kong society. The dialogue between China and the Holy See would be good for both: full freedom for the Church; would increase China’s standing in the international community. Commitment to the weak and the marginalized and acceptance of non-Chinese Catholics.

    29/09/2014 HONG KONG - CHINA
    Card. Tong: Enough violence in Central, government must put the people first
    An "Urgent Appeal" from the bishop of the Territory to the executive: "Exercise restraint in deployment of force with a view to listening to the voice of the younger generation and of citizens from all walks of life”. Card. Joseph Zen, is on the streets with Occupy Central.

    19/06/2015 HONG KONG – CHINA
    For Card Tong, the Church will continue to promote democracy in Hong Kong
    After the Legislative Council voted down Beijing’s election reform package, Hong Kong’s Cardinal Tong calls for healing and prayer to overcome polarisation. Pro-Beijing lawmakers apologise to Hong Kongers, one weeps.

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