The article about local "newsmaker" Father Jan van Aert of the Catholic Church and St. Anne's Home in Tianmu, was very insightful ("Dutch father surprised by Chen's invitation to the Pope's funeral," April 16, page 2).
The Dutch clergyman and longtime Taiwan resident was invited to go to Rome with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to attend the Pope's funeral, and what does he do upon returning to these shores? After Chen lauds Father van Aert in public at a press conference as an "unknown hero who promotes the power of reconciliation and faith in peace," the clergyman a few days later tells a reporter, explaining his religious faith: "I pity people who do not know [Jesus]. They have little comfort in their sufferings."
So van Aert presumably "pities" Chen and most of the people in Taiwan -- about 90 percent of the 23 million people who live here who are Buddhists or Taoists -- because they do not know Jesus? And this comes from the mouth of a "hero who promotes the power of reconciliation and faith in peace?"
Van Aert says he "pities" non-Christians. It's rather strange and sad when Western missionaries still say, in public, that they look down upon and feel sorrow -- "pity," even -- for the people they have come to "save" here in Taiwan.
So the good father pities the man who had the kindness to invite him on his airplane to go to Rome as a hero of reconciliation. Nice touch, sir.
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