Hong Kong picks advocate of China-Vatican dialogue as bishop

HONG KONG (AP) — Retired head of the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong Cardinal John Tong will serve as the church’s interim administrator in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory, effectively blocking the succession of the highest-ranking serving bishop known to be critical of Beijing.

The announcement was made by the diocese Monday after Bishop Michael Yeung died on Thursday.

At a time when the Holy See is eager for rapprochement with Beijing, Bishop Joseph Ha is widely seen as being too outspoken to be an acceptable successor.

Cardinal Tong, however, has been an advocate for China-Vatican dialogue.

Some local bishops in Hong Kong, such as Ha, are politically active moral forces, often championing pro-democracy fights in a diocese of more than 500,000 Catholics.

The 79-year-old Tong stepped down as head of the diocese in 2017.

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