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President Tsai meets foreign clergy and representatives from Chinese Regional Bishops' Conference
President Tsai meets foreign clergy and representatives from Chinese Regional Bishops' Conference

President Tsai Ing-wen, accompanied by Vice President Chen Chien-jen, met with foreign clergy and representatives from Taiwan's Chinese Regional Bishops' Conference on the morning of October 31. She thanked the Catholic clergy members for their selfless contributions to Taiwan, and said that it is now Taiwan's turn to care for them. Approximately 170 senior Catholic clergy have received various special benefits, allowances, and long-term care services through our Mackay Program. The president then mentioned that our Nationality Act was amended in 2016, and welcomed senior clergy members who would like to become Taiwanese citizens to use that same channel to do so, and give Taiwan an opportunity to care for them.

A translation of the president's remarks follows:

Vice President Chen and I usually meet with visitors separately, but our friends from the Catholic Church visiting today are all very special guests, so he decided to join me and meet with you together.

The religious spirit of universal love has always transcended geographic and national boundaries. You hail from many different countries around the world, but have chosen to spend the best years of your lives serving Taiwan.

You have all put down deep roots throughout Taiwan society, including remote areas, to show concern for disadvantaged groups and lend your assistance. On behalf of the people of Taiwan, I want to convey our deepest gratitude to all of you for your selfless contributions.

Friends from the Catholic Church began arriving in Taiwan in the 19th century and have contributed in many ways. They founded schools, established hospitals, and operated many important social welfare organizations, helping Taiwanese society develop and progress.

Father Yves Moal has spent decades serving in eastern Taiwan and can speak Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hakka, Amis, and Bunun. He helps people from centers for the disabled to recycle resources and do handicraft work, helping the centers raise funds as the participants regain their self-confidence and self-respect. What he has done is truly remarkable.

Sister Maryta Laumann, who hails from Germany, founded the Department of Textiles and Clothing at Fu Jen Catholic University, the first such department in Taiwan. To hone her professional qualifications, Sister Maryta completed three textile design degrees in the United States. As the first dean of the department, a position that she held for 14 years, she has played a key role in the development of Taiwan's textile industry.

Father Jean-Claude Fournier is from Switzerland, and has worked with indigenous peoples to set up a savings cooperative, helping them use self-help and mutual assistance to improve their economic status. He has also raised donations in far-off Switzerland to support a kindergarten, making enormous contributions to early childhood education in remote areas.

Sister Teresita Enriques from the Philippines established the first foundation in Taiwan for premature babies. She also helped set up a care center for people with physical and mental disabilities, as well as a care center for people who have senile dementia. Sister Teresita has played an important role in promoting dementia research in Taiwan, and localizing dementia care models.

Since our time is limited, I cannot recount all of your wonderful achievements, but I do believe that the efforts of our Catholic friends in Taiwan are a precious chapter in the history of this land. You are a driving force that has continuously helped make a better Taiwan.

In the past, it was you who cared for the people of Taiwan. Now, it is Taiwan's turn to care for you. Among the many senior members of the Catholic clergy in Taiwan, there are about 170 foreign nationals who have received various special benefits, allowances, and long-term care services under our Mackay Program.

Many foreign clergy members who have served long stints in Taiwan now regard Taiwan as their homeland. I think it would be fair to say that you are "truly Taiwanese." We amended our Nationality Act in 2016 so that you could obtain ROC nationality without renouncing your original nationality.

Those that I just mentioned—Father Yves Moal, Sister Maryta Laumann, Father Jean-Claude Fournier, and Sister Teresita Enriques—have already received their Taiwan national ID cards. If there are other senior clergy members who want to become Taiwanese citizens, we welcome them to go through the same channel, so that Taiwan can have an opportunity to care for them.

Also present at the meeting were Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan (洪山川, President of the Chinese Regional Bishop's Conference) and Father Otfried Chan (陳科, Secretary General of the Chinese Regional Bishops' Conference).

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