AustraLasia would be remiss if it did not quickly follow up the news, announced 23 December, that Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Hong Kong-born Salesian, Father Savio Hon Tai-fai as secretary of the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples, the Vatican department responsible for missionary work and which includes the Church in China in its purview. Savio is a regular reader of this little e-letter, though no doubt he’ll be rather overwhelmed by email over the next day or two, and may not get much chance to catch up on this one! Nevertheless, Savio, warm congratulations.
There were already one or two blogs announcing this appointment several days ago, so Wikileaks – eat your heart out! And in a recent private visit to the Pisana by the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, Tim Fischer dropped one or two hints as well, without being quite so specific, so maybe it wasn’t the best kept secret around town. Anyway, the appointment was duly made official at midday on 23 December, and Archbishop-elect Savio’s immediate reaction was “to pray now for God’s grace to become a suitable tool”.
Little need to explain much of Savio’s background to austraLasia readers, who are already well aware of his various roles over time, especially in leading the China Province, attending General Chapters, translating the Catechsim of the Catholic Church into Chinese, and of course being a member of the International Theological Commission since 2004. What many may not realise is that the titular See to which he has been appointed was until recently held by Archbishop, now Cardinal Angelo Amato – so it’s being kept in the family, so to speak!
The appointment appears to have been welcomed with much enthusiasm and joy in places where Savio is well-known, and that includes the Mainland where he has taught in various seminaries as a visiting professor, as well, of course, as at the Holy Spirit Seminary in HK itself.