The president of Taiwan, Chen Shui-Bian, has sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI requesting his help to halt “the threat of war which our country is suffering” at the hands of Communist China.
In the letter Chen thanks the Holy Father for his message of peace for the new year, and he asked the Pontiff to intercede with Communist China—which considers Taiwan a renegade province—to convince the country to dismantle its missiles aimed at the island and to renounce the use of force “in order to safeguard the peace and stability of the Asian Pacific.”
Chen also expressed his concern for the status of human rights and religious freedom in China, where Christians are persecuted. In Taiwan, the Catholic Church has seen continual growth in the Church’s seven dioceses.
“Peace, freedom and democracy are basic principles in Taiwan, and China will not make a positive contribution to the world unless it embraces them,” Chen wrote in his letter.
The Taiwanese president promised his country would strive to overcome the main disagreement with China through “good will, reconciliation and active cooperation.”
The Vatican is one of 25 states that recognize the nation of Taiwan, something that has been a point of contention in Vatican-Beijing relations.