Last UK governor of Hong Kong, Lord Patten, to lead Vatican communications

Peter Kenny

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Thursday, July 10 2014

Former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten waves to supporters as he leaves the Hong Kong Maritime Museum at Hong Kong's financial Central district March 20, 2014. Patten, who is also the Chancellor of the University of Oxford, was in Hong Kong for a five-day visit and attended the "Mapping Ming China's Maritime World," and other treasures from the University of Oxford exhibition at the museum. Patten became the last British governor of Hong Kong when the territory reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.Photo: REUTERS / Bobby Yip

The head of the Vatican's Secretariat for the Economy, Cardinal George Pell, has announced that the Holy See has appointed UK life peer, Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, to oversee Vatican Communications.

"Bishops, church leaders, pastors should talk about the most beleaguered members of their communities," Patten said in an interview with Vatican Radio speaking about the gap beween rich and poor in relation to Europe's economy.

"If church leaders aren't talking about the poor, immigrants, those who've been hit hard by life, then they'd be ignoring some of the most important lessons of the New Testament, some of the most important consequences of the golden rule that runs through all religions."

At the same time the Holy See announced Wednesday that the "Vatican bank", or IOR, the Italian acronym for the Institute for the Works of Religion, will continue to reform under a new executive team.

The new IOR president, Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, is a Frenchman who is a member of the Council for the Economy, the Vatican said.

"It is a great responsibility that I have accepted, and I do so with great humility to help the Holy Father and the Church, to increase their work for the poor and for the propagation of the faith," De Franssu told journalists.

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Meanwhile former chairman of the BBC Trust and current Chancellor of Oxford University, Christopher Francis Patten is a British Conservative politician and administrator.

GOVERNOR OF HONG KONG

He served as the last Governor of Hong Kong prior to the handover to Chinese rule in 1997.

Patten was a Member of the UK Parliament for Bath in the south of England, before becoming a cabinet minister and party chairman.

He accepted the post of Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Hong Kong, and oversaw its handover to the People's Republic of China in July 1997.

From 1999 to 2004 he served as one of the United Kingdom's two members of the European Commission. After leaving that post, he returned to the UK to become Chancellor of the University of Oxford in 2003, and he was made a Life Peer in 2005.

Lord Patten is a Roman Catholic and oversaw Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United Kingdom in September 2010.

From April 2011 to May 2014 he served as chairman of the BBC Trust, the governing body of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

During his most recent visit to the Vatican in February this year, he was part of the British government delegation to the Consistory, a meeting of cardinals, where British Archbishop Vincent Nichols was raised to the rank of cardinal.

"I think that what not only the Archbishop but also his opposite number in the Church of England, Justin Welby, and others have said is an argument which the government needs to address," he told Vatican Radio.

"In Europe we have 7 percent of the world's population, about 20-25 percent of the world's output, but 50 percent of the world's spending on social policies and it's very difficult to make those numbers add up."

He noted, "We have real debates about migrant communities across all our European countries, so if the Catholic Church and other Christian Churches and faith groups don't' have views on that, then they're not doing their job," Patten said.

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