The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday remained mum on whether a Vatican special envoy who is to attend a Catholic congress in Taiwan in March would meet with high-level government officials.
The Holy See, Taiwan’s sole European ally, on Saturday announced that Pope Francis has appointed Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, as his special envoy to the concluding ceremony of the fourth National Eucharistic Congress in Taiwan.
The congress, which is held once every two years, is to be hosted by the Diocese of Chiayi in the Yunlin County Stadium on March 1.
The previous congress, held in Changhua County in May 2016, was attended by Vatican special envoy Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
The congress is significant for the Catholic Church and it “carries special meaning,” so much so that the Holy See issued a news release to announce the name of its envoy this year, Department of European Affairs Director-General Johnson Chiang (姜森) said yesterday.
Asked whether Filoni would have other engagements during his stay in Taiwan, Chiang said that the Taiwan-based Chinese Regional Bishops’ Conference is in talks with the Vatican to finalize the visit’s details.
He declined to reveal whether any high-ranking government officials would attend the congress, saying only that the ministry would arrange activities if Filoni has time.
The ministry in a news release on Monday said that the Vatican’s appointment of Filoni, who has maintained close ties with Taiwan, demonstrates the strong friendship and the level of importance the Holy See attaches to Taiwan and its Catholic community.
The appointment came months after the Vatican declined an invitation for the pope to visit Taiwan on Oct. 18, just days after Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) returned from the canonization ceremony for pope Paul VI and six others in the Vatican.
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