President Lee Teng-hui met today with Cardinal Paul Shan, the former Bishop of Kaohsiung who was recently elevated to the College of Cardinals by a Papal Bull. While congratulating Cardinal Shan on his elevation, President Lee said that this appointment by the Vatican was a major affirmation and encouragement to the Republic of China for its pursuit of democracy and freedom of religion, and to the 300,000 Catholics in Taiwan.
During their conversation, President Lee stated that the ROC's democratization and political liberalization in recent years have accelerated social changes which have resulted in serious differences in people's perception of social norms. Some people have placed too much emphasis on themselves, while neglecting their interaction with society, he said.
The series of recent major incidents affecting public safety, the President continued, can be attributed mostly to human error as well as the absence of respect for the law and a sense of responsibility in society. It is both regrettable and distressing that society as a whole has paid so dearly for those accidents and that the ROC's image has been hurt, he added.
President Lee further stated that the answer to these problems lies not in the restoration of authoritarianism, but in education and spiritual reform, in which religion has an essential and indispensable role.
After conveying to President Lee the kind regards of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Shan said that the Pope highly regards the achievement of the ROC in its pursuit of freedom, democracy and human rights.
Agreeing with the President's view on the chaos in society, Cardinal Shan said that freedom, democracy and human rights are the cornerstone of a country, while education and religion are necessary for their realization. The greatest contribution that religious leaders can make to society is to promote spiritual reform, morals and ethics, he asserted. He therefore called on all ROC citizens, regardless of their different religious beliefs, to set examples for others and jointly advance spiritual reform.
During the meeting, Cardinal Shan also expressed his gratitude to President Lee for sending a delegation led by Dr. Huang Kun-huei, Secretary-General to the President, to attend the elevation ceremony in Vatican City.
Accompanied by Archbishop Ti Kang, Cardinal Shan met with President Lee at the Presidential Office this morning. Dr. Huang Kun-huei, Secretary-General to the President and Dr. Lee Tawei, Deputy Foreign Minister were also present at the occasion.