Pope Francis appoints special envoy for Taiwan's national Catholic congress

The Ministry of Affairs has welcomed the news, and look forward to the arrival of Cardinal Fernando Filoni

File Photo: Pope Francis addresses the public. May, 2018

File Photo: Pope Francis addresses the public. May, 2018 (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Taiwan government has welcomed Pope Francis’ recent appointment of a special envoy to Taiwan ahead of the fourth National Eucharistic Congress in Taiwan, which will be held March 1, in Yunlin County.

On Saturday, Jan. 5 in the Vatican Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, as his special representative to attend the national event for Catholics in Taiwan.

On Monday, Jan. 7, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) expressed gratitude for the Pope’s decision, stating that the envoy’s presence at the National Eucharistic Congress would demonstrate strong and cordial relations between Taiwan and the Holy See.

In 2016, the Vatican sent the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Giuseppe Versaldi, to attend the previous national congress, reports CNA.

The National Eucharistic Congress is a gathering which will typically include a large outdoor masses and various devotional ceremonies for national congregations. The fourth such congress in Taiwan will be held on March 1.

The appointment of Filoni to attend is a sign that Taiwan- Vatican relations remain stable despite worries last year that the Vatican might consider breaking diplomatic relations in light of a special agreement for the appointment of bishops in China, which was made in September.

Following news of the agreement, MOFA released a statement that the “provisional agreement” between the Holy See and China, would not affect relations between the Holy See and Taiwan, which remain stable.

In mid-December, President Tsai Ing-wen personally extended an open invitation to Pope Francis to visit Taiwan in a birthday message to the Catholic leader on his 82 nd birthday.