VATICAN CITY (CNA) — Taiwan’s Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) on Sunday attended the canonization of late British Cardinal John Henry Newman and four others in Vatican City.
Serving as the special envoy of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Chen sat next to Brazilian Vice President Antonio Mourao and Ireland’s Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh during the ceremony, which was attended by delegations from around the world.
The dignitaries included Charles, Prince of Wales; Italian President Sergio Mattarella; Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Vellamvelly Muraleedharan; and Swiss Federal Councilor Karin Keller-Sutter.
At the ceremony, Pope Francis canonized Cardinal Newman, a 19th century British theologian and poet; Indian Sister Marian Thresia, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family; Italian Sister Giuseppina Vannini; Brazilian Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes; and Marguerite Bays, a Swiss consecrated virgin of the Third Order of St. Francis.
Before the ceremony, Chen met with Pope Francis as part of the protocol at such events, when the pope usually receives all the leaders of attending delegations.
Chen, a Catholic, told CNA that during the meeting, he again invited Pope Francis to visit Taiwan.
He also presented two gifts to the pope — a documentary on Matteo Ricci, one of the founding figures of the Jesuit China missions; and a Taiwan magazine that features Catholic priests and nuns who serve in remote areas of Taiwan.
Chen’s visit to the Holy See, Taiwan’s only diplomatic ally in Europe, is his third since he took office as vice president in May 2016.
He attended the canonization of Mother Teresa in September 2016 and Pope Paul VI in October 2018. On both visits, Chen invited Pope Francis to visit Taiwan.
Chen was made a knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in 2010 and a knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great in 2013, in recognition of his efforts in the fight against an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Taiwan in 2003 and his academic achievements.
He is scheduled to return to Taiwan on Oct. 15.
By Huang Ya-shih and Joseph Yeh