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Pope Francis sends greetings to Tsai, promises to pray for Taiwan: VP

2018/10/14 20:06:20

Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁, right)

The Vatican, Oct. 13 (CNA) Pope Francis on Sunday sent greetings to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and pledged that he will pray for Taiwan, according to Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁).

During a meeting with Pope Francis before a canonization ceremony in the Vatican, Chen said, the pope asked him to extend his greetings to Tsai.

The pope also said he will continue to pray for Taiwan, according to the vice president.

Chen said that on behalf of President Tsai, he invited Pope Francis to visit Taiwan next year during a scheduled trip to Japan. Chen, however, did not disclose whether the pope had accepted the invitation.

Chen also said he gave Pope Francis a gift of a documentary on the life of Taiwan-based Jesuit priest Andres Diaz de Rabago (賴甘霖), a 102-year-old Spanish priest who has served in Taiwan for more than 50 years as a medical practitioner and teacher of medical students and was granted Taiwan citizenship in 2017.

In response, Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope, said he knows the Jesuits are doing a great job in Taiwan, according to Chen. Before concluding the brief meeting, the pope once again asked to extend his greetings to President Tsai, Chen said.

The canonization ceremony for Pope Paul VI, El Salvador's Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero and five others was held Sunday from 10 a.m. to 12: 30 p.m. at St. Peter's Basilica.

Before the ceremony, Chen met outside the venue with Honduran Vice President Olga Alvarado, who was also attending the event, and they exchanged greetings and took photos. The Central American country is one of Taiwan's 17 diplomatic allies.

Chen is on a four-day visit to the Vatican for the canonization ceremony, which was held during the 15th ordinary general assembly of the Synod of Bishops Oct. 3-28.

The visit came only weeks after the Vatican and Beijing signed a historic provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops in China.

The signing of the agreement on Sept. 22 gave rise to concerns in some quarters that it would lead to the Vatican switching diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China.

Chen, however, expressed confidence in the 76-year diplomatic relations between Taiwan and the Holy See, saying that the agreement was on religious matters and would not affect the diplomatic ties between Taiwan and the Vatican.

He said that the Vatican is hoping the deal will help with religious reform in China and thus open up a new page for Catholics there.

It was the second time that Chen was attending a canonization ceremony in the Vatican since he was elected vice president in 2016.

Chen and his delegation are scheduled to return to Taiwan on Tuesday.

(By Huang Ya-hsih and Joseph Yeh)