Taiwan Vice President visits Pope’s summer residence at Castel Gandolfo

Vice President Chen will attend Sunday canonization ceremony at Vatican

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Vice President Chen Chien-jen and his wife, Luo Feng-ping, praying at Castel Gandolfo.

Vice President Chen Chien-jen and his wife, Luo Feng-ping, praying at Castel Gandolfo. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) on Friday toured the Papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo on an exclusive visit, reports said.

The highlight of the vice president’s visit to Taiwan’s only European diplomatic ally will be the canonization on Sunday of Pope Paul VI and of Salvadorian Archbishop Oscar Romero.

Doubts concerning the future of diplomatic ties between the Vatican and Taiwan arose after the Holy See concluded an agreement with China about the appointment of Catholic bishops in the communist country.

However, government officials at both the Vatican and Taipei have denied any switch was about to occur, as the agreement with Beijing only touched on religious matters and not on politics.

Chen, 67, a practicing Catholic, was expected to present an official invitation on Sunday to Pope Francis to visit Taiwan, the Central News Agency reported. He described the bilateral relationship as stable and positive, and called on China to show more wisdom.

In addition to Castel Gandolfo, the vice president also visited Monte Cassino, site of the first Benedictine abbey, which was destroyed during World War II and later rebuilt.

Chen’s return to Taiwan is scheduled for Tuesday.