Former Vice President Chen meets with pope, asks him to pray for Taiwan

The two met shortly before John Paul I’s beatification ceremony. The pontiff said he was impatient to pray together for peace in the world. Taiwan is worried by China's diplomatic manoeuvres vis-à-vis the Holy See. Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Cheng Tsai-fa of Taipei passes away.

Rome (AsiaNews) – Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen's special envoy to Pope John Paul I’s beatification ceremony at the Vatican, former Vice President Chen Chien-jen, met with Pope Francis on Sunday.

A devout Catholic, Chen is an ordinary member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. During his tête-à-tête with the pontiff before the ceremony, he asked him to “pray for Taiwan”. On his Facebook page, he also wrote that he was “specially received” by the Holy Father.

The Taiwanese representative brought to the pope the greetings of President Tsai. Francis replied that he was impatient to pray together for peace in the world.

Chen arrived on Saturday for a nine-day visit to show to the world the democratic values of his country. The visit "demonstrates the close friendship between the two countries,” reads a statement by Taiwan's presidential office.

The Holy See is one of 14 states that have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Mainland China has led an international boycott of the island viewing it as a “rebel” province to be reunified with the rest of the country, by force if necessary.

Following a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan in early August, China has carried out successive military exercises and operations around Taiwan.

In recent years, Taiwan has lost a number of diplomatic allies who switched to Communist China. Hence, the Tsai administration is closely monitoring every Vatican's move.

In July, Pope Francis expressed hope that the controversial Sino-Vatican agreement on episcopal appointments would be renewed this October, even though he acknowledged that the agreement is not “ideal”.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Catholic community is mourning the passing of Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Cheng Tsai-fa of Taipei, who died on Friday at the age of 90.

Prior to his pastoral service in the archdiocese of the Taiwanese capital between 2004 and 2007, he was bishop of Tainan and apostolic administrator of Kinmen and Matsu.

(Photo: Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to the Holy See)