Speaking to the new ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan,) Chou-seng Tou, Pope John Paul remarked in English that “the religious and cultural traditions of the Republic of China bear witness to the fact that human development should not be limited to economic or material success”.
“Many of the ascetical and mystical elements of Asian religions teach that it is not the acquirement of material wealth which defines the progress of individuals and societies, but rather a civilization's ability to foster the interior dimension and transcendent vocation of men and women,” the Pope also said.
John Paul II affirmed that “the good of society entails that the right to religious freedom be enshrined in law and be given effective protection. The Republic of China (Taiwan) has shown its respect for the various religious traditions found therein and recognizes the right of all to practice their religion”.
“Religions are a component in the life and culture of a nation and bring a great sense of well-being to a community by offering a certain level of social order, tranquility, harmony and assistance to the weak and the outcast.”
He underlined the “significant contribution” of the Catholic Church “to your Nation's social and cultural development, especially by its dedication to education, health care and assistance to the less fortunate.”
Finally, the Pope expressed his appreciation for Taiwan’s “many works of charity in the international arena and most especially in the developing world. It is my hope that the people of Taiwan will continue to promote charitable activities and thus contribute to the building of an enduring peace in the world.”
Diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Taiwan are traditionally good, but Communist China has demanded the Vatican to severe those ties as one of the preconditions to “normalize” relationships.