President invites Pope Francis to visit Taiwan

Pope Francis puts ashes on a cardinal's forehead, at the Basilica of Saint Sabina in Rome Wednesday, March 6, 2019. Pope Francis is marking Ash Wednesday with prayer and a solemn procession between two churches on one of ancient Rome's seven hills. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

The Vatican (CNA) — Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) sent a congratulatory message to Pope Francis on the sixth anniversary of his pontificate on March 13 and expressed her hope that he will one day visit Taiwan, according to the Republic of China (Taiwan) Embassy to the Holy See.

Tsai congratulated the leader of Taiwan’s only diplomatic ally in Europe on the sixth anniversary of his ascension to the papacy.

The people of Taiwan are deeply grateful for the Catholic leader’s care and constant attention to the Catholic Church and to people in need, Tsai said in her message.

She also thanked his holiness for appointing H.E. Fernando Cardinal Filoni as special envoy to attend the fourth National Eucharistic Congress in Taiwan.

Filoni arrived in Taiwan Feb. 28 to attend the National Eucharistic Congress, which drew over 10,000 Catholics from seven dioceses around the island, including Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) and members of his family.

The people felt greatly blessed and positively inspired by Filoni’s presence, Tsai said, adding that she and Filoni agreed with the pope’s words: “Dialogue is the most effective antidote to violence.”

“Greatly inspired by your words, Taiwan is reaching out to the most vulnerable, building bridges of solidarity and offering aid and relief, thus fully sharing your holiness’ message of peace, love, and compassion,” Tsai said.

By Huang Ya-shih and Chung Yu-chen