Taipei-Vatican ties unaffected by Beijing talks: Taipei Archbishop

07/18/2020 10:20 PM
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President Tsai Ing-wen (second right) shakes hand with outgoing Taipei Archbishop Hung Shan Chuan while Hung
President Tsai Ing-wen (second right) shakes hand with outgoing Taipei Archbishop Hung Shan Chuan while Hung's successor Chung An-chu looks on.

Taipei, July 18 (CNA) Taiwan's relations with the Vatican are unlikely to be affected by upcoming negotiations between the ecclesiastical state and Beijing regarding an expiring bishop appointment agreement, according to new Taipei Archbishop Chung An-chu (鍾安住).

Chung made the remarks during a media interview Saturday before assuming pastoral leadership of Taipei archdiocese, which encompasses Taipei City, New Taipei City, Keelung City and Yilan County.

The Vatican, Taiwan's only diplomatic ally in Europe, signed a provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops with China in 2018, which expires in September.

As the Holy See is expected to negotiate for the renewal or further advancement of the agreement with Beijing, observers have expressed concerns Taiwan-Vatican relations could be affected.

Answering reporters' questions, Chung said although the Vatican is concerned with evangelization in China, "in my opinion, this will not affect Taiwan-Vatican relations."

Taipei Archbishop Chung An-chu. Screenshot from Voice of the Catholic Church
Taipei Archbishop Chung An-chu. Screenshot from Voice of the Catholic Church's YouTube video.

Chung cited the selection of a new Taipei Archbishop in Taiwan as an indication Pope Francis treasures the Vatican's relations with Taiwan.

He also mentioned that Arnaldo Catalan, chargé d'affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature in Taiwan, who visited Chiayi County last week, is satisfied with Taiwan's church development and religious freedom and reported his observations to the Holy See.

Chung, 68, was formally installed as Archbishop of Taipei by a solemn rite held at Fu Jen Catholic University, after an apostolic letter from Pope Francis announcing his appointment was read out by Catalan.

He replaces John Hung Shan Chuan (洪山川), who resigned after reaching the age limit, and will also serve as the apostolic administrator of Taiwan's outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu.

The ceremony was attended by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), former Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), civil and religious leaders, as well as members of the Catholic faith.

Tsai praised Chung for his efforts in promoting religious exchange and youth development, and expressed the hope that her government can work closely with the Catholic Church to provide more opportunities for young people and make Taiwan a better place.

(By Chen Yun-yu and Emerson Lim)

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