The Republic of China (ROC) and the Holy See share a strong commitment to the values of freedom, peace and human rights, Monsignor Paul Russell, charge d’affaires of the embassy of the Holy See, said on Sunday at a reception in Taipei honoring the fourth anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI.
Speaking to more than 300 guests, including President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and two cardinals, Russell passed on a message of love and gratitude from the pope to the people of Taiwan.
Quoting the pope, Russell said “frank and constructive dialogue is the key to the resolution of conflicts that threaten the stability of our world. In this regard, the Holy See welcomes the recent positive development in the relations between Taiwan and Mainland China.”
“The government of Taiwan has a keen sense of belonging to a world community, a global human family. This is expressed in many ways, not least in the generosity with which aid and emergency relief is supplied to poorer nations ... The Holy See is pleased to work together with all those who seek to promote peace, prosperity and development, and appreciates the ROC’s commitment to that noble cause,” he quoted the pope as saying.
The president commended the country’s only European ally for its dedication to performing charitable deeds worldwide and for the services that Catholic missionaries have rendered in Taiwan. Ma vowed to continue the country’s partnership with the Holy See to promote important values internationally.
“As a child, I learned about Catholicism and was inspired by Reverend Remi van Hyfte of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. At that time, I learned much from the nuns that taught our English classes as well,” Ma said.
Ma said Taiwan shared the Holy See’s emphasis on peace and freedom internationally, citing the recent ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as examples.
This November, the Catholic Church will celebrate 150 years of history in Taiwan.
That history, Russell said, demonstrates the “deep, abiding and unbreakable commitment which the Catholic Church has to Taiwan and its people.”
The pope is expected to name a special envoy at the cardinal level to attend the November event.
In September, the first Asia Regional Pontifical Council Cor Unum will also be held in Taipei, he said.