262 bishops from all five continents. The largest number ever invited to a Synod. From the Holy Land, where it all began two thousand years ago, to the newest nation, South Sudan, which only gained independence last year. The sense of a truly universal Church is one aspect of this meeting which many participants find really rewarding. Yet there is one country where the Catholic Church is growing, where bishops are regularly invited to Rome, but where their government does not give them permission to travel. That country is China. Half way through this 3 week meeting, the archbishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal John Tong appealed to the government in Beijing to grant greater religious freedom for all…..
John Cardinal Tong Hon, Bishop of Hong Kong at Synod of Bishops
“I think it’s a pity that no Chinese bishop is allowed out to attend the Synod….we must all pray that one day they will enjoy full religious freedom and the government would enjoy a greater reputation worldwide…..so more dialogue between the Holy See and the Chinese government is needed”
In his own diocese of Hong Kong, Cardinal Tong said, the Catholic Church is thriving with over 3.000 adult baptisms each year. Speaking of the importance of lay people and especially the family, which is emerging as a key theme at this synod, the cardinal said the family is an important part of traditional Chinese culture and customs. Our ancestors, he said, teach that we must first convert our own hearts, then care for our families, and from there reach out to bring peace and harmony to our society and to the wider world. That’s what the Church in mainland China is trying to do.