John Tong Hon

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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Tong.
His Eminence
John Tong Hon
Cardinal-Bishop of Hong Kong
John Tong Hon.jpg
Church Roman Catholic Church
Archdiocese Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Guangzhou (nominal)
Province Guangzhou (nominal)
Metropolis Guangzhou (nominal)
Diocese Hong Kong
Appointed 30 January 2008 (Coadjutor)
Installed 15 April 2009
Predecessor Joseph Zen SDB
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of Regina Apostolorum
Member of Council for the Economy
Ordination 6 January 1966
by Pope Paul VI
Consecration 9 December 1996
by John Baptist Wu Cheng-chung
Created Cardinal 18 February 2012
by Pope Benedict XVI
Rank Cardinal-priest
Personal details
Born (1939-07-31) 31 July 1939 (age 76)
Hong Kong
Nationality Chinese
Denomination Roman Catholic
Residence Hong Kong
Previous post
  • Auxiliary Bishop of Hong Kong (1996–2008)
  • Titular Bishop of Bossa (1996–2008)
  • Coadjutor Bishop of Hong Kong (2008-2009)
Alma mater Chinese University of Hong Kong
Pontifical Urbaniana University
Motto Dominus Pastor Meus
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}
John Tong Hon
Traditional Chinese 湯漢[1]
Simplified Chinese 汤汉
Styles of
John Tong Hon
Coat of arms of John Tong Hon.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

John Tong Hon (born 31 July 1939) is a Chinese cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and Bishop of Hong Kong. Appointed by Pope Benedict XVI, Tong Hon is the cardinal priest of the church of Regina Apostolorum in Rome.[2]


In his youth, Tong Hon spent ten years living in Huadu, Guangzhou, before returning to Hong Kong.[3] His father died in China in 1952, at the young age of 42.[4]

He earned a master's degree in philosophy from the Chinese University of Hong Kong before earning both licentiate and a doctorate in dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Urbaniana University.[1][5] He was ordained a priest on 9 December 1966.[2] On 13 September 1996, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Hong Kong.[1][2] He was named to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in 2003, after 24 years of service with their Holy Spirit Study Centre in Hong Kong.[6] In March 2005, he travelled to Guangzhou on official business as a representative of the pope, along with other Hong Kong religious leaders; they were received at a banquet luncheon by Zhu Zhenzhong, chairman of the city's political consultative committee.[3]

On 30 January 2008, Pope Benedict XVI raised him to coadjutor bishop from his former position as the auxiliary bishop of the Hong Kong Diocese.[7] He had been named by the Church as being in line for Zen's job as early as 2006; however, he stated he felt little excitement at the prospect of taking up the post.[8] He assumed the post of Bishop of Hong Kong on 15 April 2009 with the retirement of Joseph Zen.[9]

In 2010 as part of his Christmas message, Tong Hon called on the Chinese government to free Liu Xiaobo, activist Zhao Lianhai and all those who are in jail for promoting human rights. He also urged Beijing to release all the clergy from the underground church who are behind bars for demanding greater religious freedom in China. In his message, he expressed four dreams or aspirations he has for the future of his diocese, namely evangelisation, vocations, the Universal Church and acting as a bridge with mainland.[10]

On 18 February 2012 he was created Cardinal-Priest of Regina Apostolorum. He will have voting rights until his 80th birthday. In March 2012 Cardinal Tong Hon said that the diocese of Hong Kong would take up the role of "Bridge Church", and that the local Church was helping the mainland Church to have better formation, reconcile among themselves and achieve full communion with the Holy Father (the Pope) and the Universal Church. He went on to call for prayers for "the reopening of the China-Vatican dialogue" and for "the graces bestowed upon the excommunicated, so that their early repentance could bring reconciliation in our Church and thus the wounds of our Church could be healed."[11] Cardinal Tong Hon said that he is confident that "if Catholics in China were to enjoy full freedom of religious belief and activities, they would not only be able to contribute more fruitfully to the well-being of society, but would also earn for their Motherland a higher reputation in the international community." Regarding his elevation, he added that, "I feel inadequate yet grateful" and the appointment is both 'an honour and a responsibility".[11]

On 21 April 2012 Cardinal Tong Hon was appointed a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council for Inter Religious Dialogue.

On Saturday, 30 November 2013, Cardinal Tong Hon was named a Member of the Congregation for Catholic Education by Pope Francis.[12]

He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2013 papal conclave that selected Pope Francis.

On 8 March 2014, he was named by Pope Francis to serve as a Cardinal Member of the newly established Council for Economic Affairs, which will oversee the work of the new Secretariat for the Economy, an agency which will have financial regulatory authority over all departments of the Roman Curia.[13]

In July 2014 Cardinal Tong Hon received three auxiliary bishops to assist him in the running of the diocese, Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing, O.F.M., Bishop Stephen Lee Bun-sang and Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung. At the same time, Pope Francis personally requested that Tong remain bishop of Hong Kong for three more years.

Opposition to LGBT rights[edit]

Tong Hon issued a pastoral letter in November 2015 urged Catholics to vote against candidates in the district council elections if they had liberal views on gay rights - including protections against discrimination and same-sex marriage. He argued that certain social movements were "challenging and twisting" core values on marriage and family, and had "shaken society to its core".[14]

Several pan-democratic parties criticised Tong's remarks. People Power lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen said, "The current pope has been calling for respect for the LGBT community. I do not understand why Tong would make such a comment at a time when worldwide Catholics are becoming increasingly liberal in handling the issue." A spokesman for the Labour Party also said that Tong's views differed from the remarks made by Pope Francis.[15][16]

In response to the letter, a number of students at the Catholic Caritas Institute of Higher Education in Tiu Keng Leng held a protest during a visit by Tong to a graduation ceremony.[17]

Tong had previously criticised the US Supreme Court judgement in Obergefell v. Hodges which had legalised gay marriage across the United States.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Chang, Chih-ming (30 January 2008). 教宗委任湯漢主教為香港教區助理主教. Radio Taiwan International News (in Chinese). Retrieved 31 January 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c "Bishop Tong, Hon John". Hong Kong Catholic Diocesan Archives. Retrieved 31 January 2008. 
  3. ^ a b Leung, Yu (30 March 2005). 湯漢回故里 鄉情尤切切. Wen Wei Po (in Chinese). Retrieved 31 January 2008. 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ John Tong Hon
  6. ^ "Mons. John Tong Hon, Obispo auxiliar de Hong Kong, nombrado consultor de la Congregación para la Evangelización de los Pueblos". Fides (in Spanish). 28 July 2003. Retrieved 31 January 2008. 
  7. ^ "Pope Names Hong Kong Bishop". Associated Press. 30 January 2008. Retrieved 31 January 2008. [dead link]
  8. ^ Kiu, Fung (9 October 2006). 陳日君施以退為進伎倆. Ta Kung Pao (in Chinese). Retrieved 31 January 2008. 
  9. ^ "Rinuncia e successione del vescovo di Hong Kong (Cina)". 15 April 2009. Retrieved 15 April 2009. 
  10. ^ Mgr Tong urges Beijing to free Liu Xiaobo, Catholic clergymen and human rights activists
  11. ^ a b [2]
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Cheung, Tony; Lau, Stuart (7 November 2015). "Catholic bishop of Hong Kong hits out at gay marriage and tells flock to consider the issue before voting". South China Morning Post. 
  17. ^
  18. ^
Catholic Church titles
Title last held by
Peter Lei
Auxiliary Bishop of Hong Kong
Title last held by
Joseph Zen
Coadjutor Bishop of Hong Kong
Preceded by
Joseph Zen
Bishop of Hong Kong
Order of precedence
Preceded by
Sik Chi Wai
President of the Hong Kong Buddhist Association
Hong Kong order of precedence
Catholic Bishop of Hong Kong
Succeeded by
Tong Yun-kai
President of the Confucian Academy