On the evening of October 10, Vice President Chen Chien-jen embarked on a trip to the Holy See to attend the canonization of Cardinal John Henry Newman and four other blesseds. The vice president delivered remarks before boarding the plane, explaining that the purpose of this visit is not only to express our congratulations on the canonization of Cardinal Newman and the others, but also to convey greetings of utmost respect to Pope Francis on behalf of President Tsai, the people of Taiwan, and all the Catholic faithful. The vice president said he will pray for lasting diplomatic ties between Taiwan and the Holy See, and sustainable peace for the whole world. He will also pray to the Lord to bless all the Catholics in the Chinese-speaking world who are undergoing hardships and living in difficult environments, and hopes that freedom of religion will spread to every corner of the globe.
A translation of Vice President Chen's remarks follows:
I am departing today as President Tsai Ing-wen's envoy together with my wife and Deputy Foreign Minister Kelly Wu-Chiao Hsieh (謝武樵) to the Holy See to attend the canonization of Cardinal John Henry Newman and four other blesseds on October 13. I feel honored and grateful to make this trip, and that all of you have made a special trip to the airport to see us off.
The Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Holy See share close ties, and our cooperation in recent years has yielded significant results in such areas as humanitarian assistance, the prevention of human trafficking, cultural exchanges, interfaith dialogue, and the promotion of sustainable development. The government and people of Taiwan will continue taking concrete action to support Pope Francis in his efforts to spread religious freedom, democracy, human rights, social justice, peace, and care for the disadvantaged across the world.
Cardinal Newman was a deeply learned man who dared to discuss fundamental religious issues and questions of doctrine. During the Second Vatican Council, which ran from 1962 to 1965, his ideas figured prominently in discussions and had a profound impact on Catholicism and the entire world. Cardinal Newman firmly believed that religious faith is "a heart-to-heart conversation with God." He also said that religion should maintain its impartial and pure essence, and that it should not take on the slightest hint of political ideology. I strongly agree with his views, and greatly respect him for taking this position.
The other blesseds scheduled to be canonized are: Sister Giuseppina Vannini, who devoted herself to apostolic and social work; Sister Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan, who spent a lifetime helping disadvantaged families and founded schools and an orphanage; Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes, who treated the sick and helped the poor get access to medical treatment; and Marguerite Bays, a devout Catholic who devoted her life to the church and to helping the needy. Their selfless spirit of service is moving and worthy of our emulation.
On this trip, I will attend a canonization ceremony presided over by Pope Francis, to whom I will extend highest regards on behalf of President Tsai, the people of Taiwan, and all the Catholic faithful. I will also invite the pope to visit Taiwan, and convey a very sincere invitation on behalf of all our Catholic brethren. I will also meet with Taiwanese priests, brothers, and nuns stationed at the Holy See, as well as with foreign clergy members who have previously served in Taiwan. I will take this opportunity to thank them for the support and concern they've shown for Taiwanese society, and for the sacrifices they've made.
In addition, while at St. Peter's Basilica I intend to visit St. Peter's Chapel to pray for global environmental protection and sustainable development, to ask God to bestow blessings upon the people of Taiwan, and to pray for the development of democracy, religious freedom, economic prosperity, and social harmony in Taiwan. I will also pray for our Lord to bless all the Catholics in the Chinese-speaking world who are undergoing hardships and living in difficult environments. We hope that freedom of religion will spread to every corner of the globe, Chinese-speaking Catholics will be able to live a normal life of faith as soon as possible, and that their local churches can become one with the worldwide Catholic Church.
Finally, I would like to once again thank everyone for making a special trip here to see us off. To all of my fellow citizens, let us pray for lasting friendship between Taiwan and the Holy See, for Taiwan's future development, for the world's sustainable peace, and for good health, well-being, and happiness for the people of Taiwan.
Among those at the airport to see Vice President Chen and the delegation off were Deputy Secretary-General to the President Shih Keh-her (施克和), Nicaraguan Ambassador to Taiwan William Manuel Tapia Aleman (head of Taiwan's foreign diplomatic corps), and Charge d'Affaires a.i. Monsignor Arnaldo Catalan of the Apostolic Nunciature in Taiwan.