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Hong Kong's new cardinal urges leaders to protect democracy

February 20, 2012

Newly elevated Cardinal John Tong Hon has urged the government of Hong Kong to preserve and expand democratic freedoms.

In a message to the government, released on the day that he received his red hat, Cardinal Tong called for universal suffrage and direct elections of Hong Kong’s leaders. His proposals, if followed, would promote the continued independence of the former British colony, which is now under the authority of Beijing. In a separate message to the Catholics of the Hong Kong diocese, Cardinal Tong called for help for those in need. Especially during Lent, he said, “We should look for opportunities to help others with our time and money, especially the weak and marginalized in our society.” Pockets of poverty remain in Hong Kong, an Asian financial center which has become one of the world’s most affluent communities.

Cardinal Tong became Bishop of the Hong Kong diocese in 2009, succeeding Cardinal Joseph Zen. The decision by Pope Benedict XVI to name both prelates as cardinals suggests a desire to ensure that the Chinese Church is represented in the College of Cardinals despite the tight controls placed on the Church on the mainland.


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