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Vice President Chen departs on trip to visit the Holy See
Vice President Chen departs on trip to visit the Holy See

Vice President Chen Chien-jen departed on the evening of September 2 to travel to the Holy See and attend the canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. In remarks issued before boarding the aircraft, the vice president stressed that in addition to expressing to the Holy See our congratulations on the canonization of Mother Teresa, the trip was also being undertaken in order to pray for lasting friendship between Taiwan and the Vatican.

The following is a translation of the vice president's remarks:

I am traveling as the president's envoy together with my wife to the Holy See to attend the canonization of Mother Teresa on September 4. We are leading a delegation that includes National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Tseng Hou-jen (曾厚仁) and Deputy Foreign Minister Chih-Chung Wu (吳志中). On behalf of the government and people of the Republic of China, as well as my fellow members of the Catholic Church, I want to extend congratulations to the pope. I feel very honored and grateful that all of you have come out to the airport so late in the evening to see us off.

Mother Teresa lived a life of compassion, caring for the poor, the sick, and the weak. She and the other members and volunteers of the Missionaries of Charity congregation were willing to live in poverty in order to better serve the poorest of the poor. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Mother Teresa in 1979, calling attention to all she had done for the sake of love and peace. As one of the greatest "living saints" of the 20th century, she richly deserves to be canonized as a saint, and is greatly admired the world over. Her Missionaries of Charity have been active in Taiwan since 1984, and Mother Teresa herself visited Taiwan in 1985. While here she met with late President Chiang Ching-kuo, upon whom she made a very deep impression. President Chiang said he felt that Mother Teresa was compassion personified, and truly sought to give succor to the masses. The Missionaries of Charity provide services to this day in the dioceses of Tainan and Taipei. With compassion and mercy, the Missionaries of Charity have cared for the neediest members of society in Taiwan. We are truly thankful to Mother Teresa, because the congregation she founded is still showing love here in Taiwan.

The announcement made by Pope Francis to canonize Mother Teresa during the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy (December 8, 2015 – November 20, 2016) highlights the universal values of peace, brotherly love, mercy, and humanitarianism. Taiwan and the Holy See have a shared commitment to these ideals, and work actively to put them into practice. I feel especially honored to be representing the Republic of China at the canonization ceremony, and I thank the Holy See for the invitation.

In addition to an audience with the pope, I will meet during this trip with important Holy See officials to promote bilateral diplomatic relations. I will also be seeing a lot of Taiwanese priests, brothers, and nuns working at the Holy See, as well as Taiwanese business people and other expatriates living in Italy to thank them for their longstanding support and concern for Taiwan.

At the canonization ceremony and the Mass of Thanksgiving at the Vatican, and at a mass for peace that we will arrange in the town of Assisi, we will pray for Pope Francis and for all the members of the clergy, in the hope that they might be the visible face in this world of the forgiving and merciful Father. We will also pray for a sustainable global environment, in the hope that all the Lord's creation will benefit from human care and protection. And we will of course pray for peace, throughout the world and particularly in the Taiwan Strait, in the hope that war and terrorism will come to an end, natural disasters will occur less frequently, a sustainable peace will be achieved in cross-strait relations, and Catholics on both sides of the Taiwan Strait can be looked after, shepherded, and blessed by the pope as members of a single flock. We will also pray for Taiwan, in the hope that the economy will be strong, the people will be prosperous and secure, there will be good weather for crops, and families will enjoy harmony and happiness.

And finally, I thank you all once again for coming out here at this hour to wish us a successful trip. It really is quite late, so good evening, my dear fellow countrymen. Don't forget to pray for lasting peace throughout the world and across the Taiwan Strait, for enduring friendship between Taiwan and the Vatican, for a prosperous and secure nation, and for harmonious and happy families.

Among those at the airport to see Vice President Chen and the delegation off were Secretary-General to the President Lin Bih-jaw (林碧炤), Deputy Foreign Minister Javier Ching-shan Hou (侯清山), Nicaraguan Ambassador to the ROC William Manuel Tapia Alemán, who is head of the foreign diplomatic corps in Taiwan William Manuel Tapia Aleman, and Attaché of the Apostolic Nunciature to the ROC Reverend Father Giuseppe Silvestrini (薛維義) .

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