TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) extended an invitation to Pope Francis to visit Taiwan during a short exchange ahead of the canonization of Pope Paul VI last Sunday, according to an official statement.
The vice president was visiting the Holy See on a trip that many see as an attempt to solidify Taiwan’s diplomatic ties with the Vatican, which signed a historic agreement with China on bishop appointment in September.
Vice President Chen met with Pope Francis shortly before the ceremony began. During this short encounter, he invited the Pope to visit Taiwan next year, the vice president told the press traveling after the ceremony. However, he did not say whether the Pope had accepted the invitation.
The Pope extended greetings to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) twice during the meeting, added the vice president.
President Tsai later responded to the Pope’s greeting via a Facebook post that the Taiwanese government will “take definite action and continue to support the Pope and the Church in bringing common values — freedom, justice, peace, and care — to all corners of the world.”
Apart from exchanging greetings, the vice president gave the Pope a documentary about centenarian Father Andrés Díaz de Rábago, a Jesuits member who has served in Taiwan for more than four decades, as a gift.
The delegation spent four days in the Vatican, during which Vice President Chen visited the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo, which had served for centuries as a summer residence for the pope, and the Abbey of Monte Cassino, which was rebuilt after World War II and has become a symbol of peace.