Taipei (AsiaNews) - Card. Jozef Tomko, former prefect of Propaganda Fide, is the papal legate to attend the closing ceremony of the celebrations of 150 years of evangelization in Taiwan. This afternoon he presided over a Mass at Lin Kou National Stadium in the capital. At least 15 thousand faithful from all the dioceses in Taiwan are attended.
In addition to the bishops of Taiwan, the ceremony was also attended by several bishops and cardinals from East Asia: Card. Joseph Zen of Hong Kong;. Card. Rosalie Manila Gaudencio; Card. Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Ho Chi Minh City, Mgr. Jose Lai Hung-seng of Macau and Mgr. Nguyen Pham Kam, auxiliary bishop of Ho Chi Minh City. The program was broadcast live over the Internet. In addition to mass there will be a ceremony of "testimony and thanksgiving" with the narrative of some experiences of mission as well as awards.
The anniversary commemorates the evangelization that begun 150 years ago, in January 1859 with the Dominican fathers. In the mandate to card. Tomko, Benedict XVI said that the celebrations are a point of arrival and departure, that we need to remember the past but also to motivate the faithful to greater faith and mission among their neighbors.
During the year, which coincided in part with the Pauline Year, the bishops and the communities have organized activities, training programs and religious gatherings. On 19 January 2009, the bishops also issued a pastoral letter titled "Celebrating 150 years of evangelization, to imitate St. Paul in the mission of evangelization in every place."
According to the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, out of a population of almost 23 million, in Taiwan there are 299 thousand Catholics, divided into 8 dioceses. The church is distinguished for its contributions in education, pastoral care and assistance to children and the elderly.