Sun, Oct 13, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Chen Chien-jen says Holy See values Taiwan ties

Staff writer, with CNA, Vatican City

Vice President Chen Chien-jen, center, his wife, Luo Feng-ping, fourth left, Ambassador to the Holy See Matthew Lee, fourth right, and diplomatic staff gesture at the Republic of China embassy in the Vatican City on Friday.

Photo: CNA

The Holy See attaches importance to its relations with Taiwan and an agreement between the Vatican and China on the appointment of bishops merely shows Pope Francis’ efforts to improve religious freedom there, Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said on Friday.

Chen made the remarks at Taiwan’s embassy in the Vatican City after arriving as the special envoy of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for the canonization today of British cardinal John Henry Newman and four others.

Chen said that the Holy See, Taiwan’s only diplomatic ally in Europe, attaches great importance to its relations with Taiwan, as evident in the designation in August of Arnaldo Catalan, who shares a close bond with the pope, as the new head of the apostolic nunciature to Taiwan.

Addressing concerns that the provisional Vatican-China agreement inked in September last year would lead to the Holy See switching diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, Chen said the agreement is aimed at integrating the Chinese Catholic Church into the global Catholic community, rather than dealing with any political or diplomatic issues.

“I firmly believe that the provisional agreement between the Vatican and China on the appointment of bishops will help harmonize the Universal Church and the Catholic Church in China,” he said.

The agreement has helped improve religious freedom in China, he added.

China ordained two bishops in August and the appointments were approved by the pontiff, affirming the pope’s leadership over the Catholic Church in China, Chen said.

Chen, a Catholic himself, said that the pope included the Catholic Church in China just as the good shepherd did when he left 99 sheep to go after the one lost sheep until he found it, referring to Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep in the Bible.

“We pray that this represents a first step toward religious freedom in China,” the vice president added.

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