Vice President Wu Den-yih’s (吳敦義) and his entourage attended the canonizations of popes John Paul II and John XXIII on Sunday at the Vatican, where he met with Pope Francis and several heads of state of allied nations.
Sunday marked the first time in 2,000 years that two popes were canonized at the same time. It was also the first time a vice president of the Republic of China (ROC) attended such a ceremony in the 73 years of diplomatic relations with the Holy See.
The canonization was presided over by Pope Francis.
Wu was accompanied by his wife, Tsai Ling-yi (蔡令怡), Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Vanessa Shih (史亞平) and former director of Taipei City’s Department of Social Welfare and recipient of the Order of Pope St. Sylvester, Chiang Yi-wen (江綺雯), and Ambassador to the Holy See Larry Wang (王豫元).
Sunday’s canonization was also the first to be attended by a former pope, Benedict XVI, who renounced his papacy in February last year over health concerns.
After the ceremony, Wu spoke with Pope Francis.
He reportedly told the pope of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) strong admiration for his appeal to the people, particularly after Ma attended Pope Francis’ inauguration ceremony last year.
The two reportedly spoke of Wu’s friendship with the late John Paul II that began when Wu, then-mayor of Kaohsiung, traveled to the Vatican in 1998 to attend a mass in which Paul Shan (單國璽), was appointed a cardinal.
Wu also met with several heads of state, including Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, El Salvadorian president-elect Salvador Sanchez Ceren, Guatemalan Vice President Roxana Baldetti and Belizean Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega.