.- A top Vatican official met with Taiwanese government officials last week and was a keynote speaker at a three-day conference on the pastoral care of migrants and itinerants in Taiwan.
Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, was invited by the Chinese Regional Bishops' Conference in Taiwan.
The March 16-19th conference focused on the theme: “The Catholic Church in Asia Cares for the Migrants in Taiwan.”
On the first day of the conference, the Cardinal addressed the 100 participants on welcoming and caring for the foreigner in the light of the love of Christ towards migrants.
The previous day, Cardinal Martino met with President Chen Shui-bian and Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang Chih-fang.
According to a report by UCA News, Chen told the Cardinal that his visit would make migrants to Taiwan "sense the warmth, compassion, and concern of the Vatican." He also thanked the local Church for its work running schools and hospitals, and caring for the marginalized, foreign brides, the rural poor, and migrants.
The president said Taiwan's government and people "maintain an excellent humanitarian and benevolent relationship with the Vatican" and that he hopes Taiwan and the Holy See would continue to strengthen their cooperation.
Chen also asked the Cardinal to pass along his request to the Vatican's Secretary of State to adjust its low-profile stance toward Taiwan and to ease restrictions on high-ranking Taiwan government officials visiting the Vatican, reported UCA News.
The Cardinal received an honorary doctorate in philosophy from Fu Jen Catholic University in Taipei for his contribution to peace and justice, and his commitment to disarmament, development, poverty, human rights, refugees and religious freedom.
The Vatican’s recognition of Taiwan remains a sticking point in relations between the Holy See and China. The Chinese government, which refuses to acknowledge Taiwan as a separate republic is calling for the Catholic Church to cease separate relations with the island.