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Vice President Chen attends canonization of Mother Teresa
Vice President Chen attends canonization of Mother Teresa

At 10:15 a.m. on September 4 local time (4:15 p.m. on September 4, Taipei time), Vice President Chen Chien-jen and Mrs. Chen were escorted by a protocol officer from the Holy See to meet and exchange greetings with Pope Francis and attend the canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Speaking in English on behalf of President Tsai Ing-wen, the people of Taiwan, and his fellow Catholics, Vice President Chen conveyed his highest regards to the pope, who amiably responded that he would pray for the people of Taiwan, and asked that they also pray for him. The vice president responded: "I pray every day for Taiwan, Your Holiness, and world peace. And I sincerely invite Your Holiness to visit Taiwan at a time of your convenience."

Vice President Chen presented the pope with a DVD documentary of Pope Francis—FRANCIS: THE PEOPLE'S POPE—produced by Kuangchi Program Service, and a book about the late Father Ricardo Ferreira, a Jesuit from Argentina who spent 50 years on the island of Kinmen. Upon seeing the photo of Father Ferreira on the book's cover, the pope immediately told the vice president that Father Ferreira had been his spiritual mentor, and the pope misses Ferreira's guidance now that the latter has gone to meet his Maker. The pope was deeply moved, and thanked the vice president effusively for the book.

Vice President Chen and his wife were then escorted by the protocol officer to their seats on the front row of the section for the special envoys. Seated on either side of Vice President and Mrs. Chen were envoys from Nigeria and San Marino as well as former Queen Sofia Margarita Victoria Federica of Spain. Also present at the ceremony were the leaders of delegations from a dozen or so other countries, including President Gjorge Ivanov of Macedonia, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria, and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj of India. The event was also attended by cardinals, archbishops, and other clergy members from the Holy See, members of the diplomatic corps at the Vatican, and diplomats from abroad. About 100,000 people from around the world crowded into St. Peter's Square and the nearby Via della Conciliazione to hear the canonization mass.

After the pope's homily, Vice President and Mrs. Chen, who are both Catholic, received communion and exchanged the sign of peace with nearby envoys by shaking hands with them. After the mass ended, Vice President Chen and his wife shook hands with the members of the Taipei Philharmonic Chamber Choir, which had performed together with the Sistine Chapel Choir during the canonization ceremony at the latter's invitation.

Vice President and Mrs. Chen made a point of arriving early at the venue to interact with senior Vatican officials, archbishops, and ambassadors stationed in the Vatican from the ROC's diplomatic allies. They were especially pleased to see Panamanian First Lady Lorena Isabel Castillo de Varela, who had been in Taiwan in May 2016 for the inauguration of President Tsai and Vice President Chen. The First Lady sent her regards to President Tsai, and said she likes Taiwan very much and hopes to visit again someday. Vice President and Mrs. Chen had a very enjoyable chat with the First Lady, and posed for a photo with her before leaving.

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