TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) confirmed relations with the Vatican remain positive on Monday (Oct. 25) following an article by Corriere della Sera, Italy’s largest newspaper, which claimed the Vatican is under renewed pressure from Beijing to cut ties with Taiwan.
The report quoted an anonymous diplomat of the Vatican who said that with increased U.S.-China tensions, the communist government is pressuring the Vatican to cut ties with Taiwan. The situation is currently at a standstill after the Vatican declined to cut ties with Taiwan but instead suggested establishing a diplomatic presence in Beijing, which China did not allow, according to a CNA report.
MOFA Spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) did not offer comment on the media reports but instead emphasized that Taiwan and the Vatican enjoy warm ties, that communication channels are open, and that cooperation with the Holy See continues to deepen based on shared values.
As an example, Ou cited how Taiwan has actively promoted Pope Francis’s encyclicals and blessings since the outbreak of COVID-19. The government, people, and Catholic groups of Taiwan have continued to support the Holy See and assist needy groups to fight the spread of the disease.
The Holy See has responded positively to these actions, which demonstrate the spirit of "Taiwan can help," a policy that has guided Taiwan’s outreach to the wider world, per reports.
Ou also said President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) expression of condolence and support for Pope Francis after he underwent surgery in July was listed first on the Holy See’s official website, ahead of messages from 91 other politicians from around the world. Also, Pope Francis paid special tribute to Tsai on Taiwan’s National Day this month, praying for peace and prosperity for the people of Taiwan.
Ou said the Holy See has stated on many occasions that the "Provisional Agreement on the appointment of Bishops" deals with religious rather than political affairs. Taiwan’s government has also repeatedly expressed its hope that the arrangement improves religious freedom in China, per reports.
Ou said MOFA is closely watching religious oppression in China and hopes all the faithful in that country may truly enjoy the universal value of religious freedom and basic human rights protection. MOFA will also continue to deepen exchanges with the Holy See and the Catholic Church based on their long-standing relations and shared values.