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Chinese priest chosen for key Vatican mission post

December 23, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI has chosen a Chinese priest to become the new secretary of the Congregation for Evangelization.

Father Savio Hon Tai-Fai, a native of Hong Kong and member of the Salesian order, has been teaching theology at the Hong Kong seminary and is a member of the International Theological Commission. He will assume the title of archbishop as he takes on his new role. He will be the second-ranking official in the Congregation for Evangelization, which is responsible for supervising the work of the Church in mission territories.

The appointment of an Asian cleric underlines the importance that Pope Benedict attaches to the missionary work of the Church in Asia. The prefect of the Congregation for Evangelization, Cardinal Ivan Dias, is from India.

The selection of a Chinese priest is particularly significant in light of the recent escalation in conflicts between the Holy See and the Beijing regime over control of the Church in that country. In a broadside aimed at the Vatican this week, the Chinese government's ministry of religious affairs repeated the familiar argument that Catholics in China should not be subject to "foreign forces"-- a term that could not easily be applied to a Chinese archbishop.


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