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Vice President Chen returns from visit to Vatican
Vice President Chen returns from visit to Vatican

Vice President Chen Chien-jen completed his visit to the Vatican and returned to Taiwan in the early morning hours of September 8. Upon arriving at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the vice president immediately delivered remarks to report on successes achieved during his trip.

The following is a translation of Vice President Chen's remarks:

Thank you all very much for showing up so early in the morning at the airport to welcome us back home. This trip was a smooth success. About 150,000 people attended the canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Together we commemorated Mother Teresa's life of service to the needy and her contributions to world peace. It was truly a huge event. Prior to the canonization ceremony, my wife and I went together with our delegation to meet briefly with Pope Francis. In my capacity as head of the delegation, I forwarded greetings and congratulations to the pope from President Tsai Ing-wen and the government and people of Taiwan as well as my fellow Catholics. Pope Francis responded very amiably. While at the venue, we also exchanged greetings and pleasantries with the heads of delegations from a dozen or more different countries.

The Taipei Philharmonic Chamber Choir performed together with the Sistine Chapel Choir during the canonization ceremony at the latter's invitation, and won great praise. Through news reports by international media, the world has seen that Taiwan and the Holy See have a shared commitment to universal values, and Taiwan also demonstrated its cultural soft power to the world.

I met with many senior clergy members from the Holy See during this trip, including Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin. I had an in-depth conversation with him about exchanges and cooperation between Taiwan and the Holy See. A severe earthquake recently struck in the mountains of central Italy, and the pope has been very concerned about the situation. He prayed for the victims and provided support for the relief effort. In response to the pope's compassion, I donated €100,000 on behalf of the ROC during my meeting with Cardinal Parolin so that the donation could be provided to Italy via the Holy See. We also visited the town of peace, Assisi, where we arranged a peace mass and prayed particularly for peace throughout the world and in the Taiwan Strait.

During this trip, which was codenamed the Saint's Peace Project, we saw a lot of priests, brothers, and nuns who had experience serving in Taiwan. We also met with Taiwanese business people and other expatriates living in Italy. Speaking on behalf of our government, we conveyed the great respect in which they are held for the years they've spent working hard and reflecting well upon their homeland. We also asked them to be proud of their native country, and to continue supporting Taiwan in all different fields of endeavor so as to bring worldwide attention to Taiwan.

In closing, we wish to thank the Apostolic Nunciature to the ROC for its assistance, and everyone on staff at the ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Embassy of the ROC to the Holy See, and the Taipei Representative Office in Italy for all their hard work. We also want to specially thank the Holy See for the outstanding hospitality we received during our visit, as well as National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Tseng Hou-jen (曾厚仁) and Deputy Foreign Minister Wu Chih-Chung (吳志中), who accompanied us on the trip and made sure that everything went smoothly.

Acting in line with the universal values of peace, democracy, freedom, equality, and brotherly love, the ROC will continue to serve as an indispensable partner to the Holy See and other countries in their efforts to promote religious freedom and world peace. Let us together give best wishes for the stable diplomatic ties between Taiwan and the Vatican. Long may they continue!

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