Vice President Chen prays for peace at mass at St. Peter's Basilica

Vice president Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁)

Vice president Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) (By Central News Agency)

THE VATICAN (CNA) — Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), leading a Taiwan delegation to the Vatican, attended a mass at St. Peter's Basilica on Saturday to pray for world peace.

The morning mass, jointly organized by the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to the Holy See and the Taipei-based Chinese Regional Bishops' Conference (CRBE), was led by Chiayi Bishop Chung An-chu (鍾安住).

It was also attended by Deputy Foreign Minister Kelly Hsieh (謝武樵), Taiwan's ambassador to the Vatican Matthew S.M. Lee (李世明), Taiwan's representative to Italy Andrea Lee (李新穎), and members of the Vatican clergy.

During the mass, Chen prayed for Taiwan and its people and for peace across the Taiwan Strait.

Speaking to reporters after the mass, Chen said he was honored to be designated as President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) envoy to a ceremony scheduled for Sunday to canonize Pope Paul VI and six others.

He said the presence of his delegation was a demonstration of the high value Taiwan places on its 76-year diplomatic relationship with the Holy See.

The Holy See is an important ally, and like Taiwan, is committed to freedom of religion, compassion and kindness, and recognizes the value of democracy and human rights, Chen said.

Taiwan will continue to prioritize cooperation with the Holy See in promoting these shared values around the world, and to deepen the bilateral partnership in the area of humanitarian and charitable efforts, he said.

Chen also said he hoped to see Taiwan and China move toward a path of peaceful dialogue in the future to maintain cross-strait peace and stability in the interest of the region and the rest of the world.

Also on Saturday, Chen was scheduled to host an evening banquet for Taiwanese clergy members and expatriates in the Vatican and Italy.

On Sunday, he will attend the ceremony where Pope Francis will canonize Pope Paul VI, El Salvador's Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero and five others.

Chen, who is on a four-day visit to the Vatican, said he will ask Pope Francis to give his blessings to Taiwan and to pray for cross-strait peace, and he will invite the pope to visit Taiwan next year during a scheduled trip to Japan.