Hong Kong Bishop Emphasizes Defending China's Religious Freedom

The new head of the Hong Kong Diocese said defending human rights and religious freedom in mainland China is more important than normalizing Chinese-Vatican relations. In an interview with the Asian church news agency UCA News, Bishop John Tong Hon said he would adhere to church principles in dealing with mainland China. The interview with Bishop Tong, an expert on the church in China, was published April 16, the day he took over as head of the diocese. The bishop cited a principle often credited to St. Augustine of Hippo: "In essential things unity, in doubtful things liberty, but in all things love." Bishop Tong, 69, who was named coadjutor bishop of Hong Kong in January 2008, succeeded Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun as diocesan bishop. The Vatican announced April 15 that Pope Benedict XVI had approved the 77-year-old cardinals request to retire.

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