At the Vatican on Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI received a new ambassador from Taiwan and welcomed the recent "positive developments" in relations between mainland China and Taiwan.
The Pope began his English-language remarks to the Ambassador Wang Larry Yu-yuan by asking him to relay his congratulations to Taiwan’s first Catholic president, Ma Ying-jeou, who was sworn into office on May 20, 2008.
Pope Benedict went on to praise the "Government in Taipei" for its "keen sense of belonging to a world community, a global human family," which he said the Taiwanese people demonstrate through their willingness to help those in need, especially poorer nations.
Sizing up the Catholic community in Taiwan, Benedict XVI remarked that although Catholics "represent little more than one per cent of the population, they are eager to play their part in building up a society that is humane, just, and marked by genuine concern for the welfare of the weaker members of the community."
The Holy Father also extolled Taiwan for its "firm commitment to freedom of religion," which allows the Church to "carry out her mission of love and service, and to express herself openly through worship and the proclamation of the Gospel."
Due to the "'innate spiritual insight and moral wisdom,' of Asian people, the Pope said that "there is great religious vitality and capacity for renewal" and that consequently the possibility for inter-religious dialogue to "take root and grow" is very good.
Pope Benedict also encouraged the process of dialogue between mainland China and Taiwan, which have fought over the independence of Taiwan for decades. "Frank and constructive dialogue is also the key to the resolution of the conflicts that threaten the stability of our world," he said.
Referencing the recent visit of Chen Yunlin, China's top negotiator on Taiwan affairs, to Taiwan, the Holy Father said that "the Holy See welcomes the recent positive developments in relations between Taiwan and mainland China." The meeting between Chen and Taiwanese President Ma concluded with new deals on trade and transportation links between the two countries.
"Indeed the Catholic Church is eager to promote peaceful solutions to disputes of whatever kind, 'giving attention and encouragement to even the faintest sign of dialogue or desire for reconciliation'. In this way, she wishes to support the efforts of governments to become 'staunch champions of human dignity and courageous builders of peace'," the Pope told the new ambassador.