Hong Kong Cardinal John Tong Hon has said he has been told by the Vatican he will not be allowed to participate in this fall's hotly anticipated Synod of Bishops on family life because he is 76-years-old, one year past the normal retirement age of bishops.
Hon, who leads China's largest Catholic diocese, said in an interview with Asian Catholic news agency UCA news: “Now I know that I am not going to the synod."
The cardinal said he was told by a Vatican representative that the Vatican "does not want to make any exceptions" regarding age.
Cardinal Tong said he was unaware if another representative from Hong Kong was chosen in his place. He knew only that he was “disqualified by age,” he said, laughing.
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“They will find somebody … if they need somebody,” the cardinal said.
Synod participants in general are elected by local bishops’ conferences. Owing to historical reasons, Hong Kong, a former British colony and the largest Chinese diocese in the world with a Catholic population of 560,000, remains a mission area and does not have its own bishops’ conference.