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Taiwanese, Chinese bishops meet at Vatican synod for first time

2018/10/14 16:37:19

Chiayi Bishop Chung An-chu (鍾安住)

The Vatican, Oct. 13 (CNA) Bishops from Taiwan and China were present at the Vatican for the first time at a global meeting this month, Chiayi Bishop Chung An-chu (鍾安住) said Saturday.

Chung is the Taiwan representative at the ongoing Synod of Bishops, a regular gathering that is being held Oct. 3-28 at the Vatican to discuss pressing issues facing the Catholic Church.

Asked about the historical moment when he met the two bishops Guo Jincai and Yang Xiaoting from mainland China, Chung told CNA that he exchanged greetings and handshakes with them and told them he was pleased to see them.

Chung said he also told Guo and Yang that "it's been a long time" since bishops from China came to the Vatican.

At the synod, there are 266 bishops from around the world, Chung said, adding that the difference this year is that he was able to converse in Chinese with the two representatives from China.

The inclusion of the Chinese bishops for the first time resulted from a landmark agreement signed Sept. 22 between the Vatican and the Chinese government on the appointment of bishops in China.

Noting that there have been divisions among Chinese Catholic churches, Chung said the Holy See had invited Chinese bishops to past synods but they were never able to attend.

On the question of whether he thought the Vatican-China agreement would affect diplomatic relations between Taiwan and the Holy See, Chung said there were no signs of such a development.

He said the agreement, however, might help improve religious freedom in China, leading to reforms such as the removal of a rule that prohibits people under the age of 18 from entering a church to attend mass.

Meanwhile, Chung said, in his meeting with Pope Francis in May, the pope praised Taiwan's humanitarian relief efforts.

He said he told the pope that in light of the ongoing pressure from China, Taiwan needs the pope to stand side by side with its people.

In response to his request, Chung said, the pope promised to "immediately" pray for Taiwan.

Chung was one of guests at a dinner Saturday hosted by Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) and his wife Luo Feng-ping (羅鳳蘋) to entertain leaders of Taiwanese expatriate groups in the Vatican and priests and nuns who have served in Taiwan.

At the dinner party, Chen, who is leading a Taiwan delegation to the Vatican to attend a ceremony for the canonization of Pope Paul VI on Sunday, commended the work of the Taiwan officials stationed in the Holy See and said he hoped God would bless Taiwan so that the rest of the world would recognize its democracy, freedom and rule of law.

Chen said the pope believes that issues should be settled through goodwill and negotiations and that was why the Holy See signed the agreement with China.

However, the agreement is not a diplomatic one, Chen added. He said Taiwan and the Holy See have shared values, such as democracy, human rights, religious freedom and will continue to deepen their bilateral ties.

(By Huang Ya-shih and Evelyn Kao)
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