The Presidential Office convened a press conference on the afternoon of August 24 to announce that from September 2 through 8, Vice President Chen Chien-jen will lead a delegation to attend the canonization ceremony of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
At the press conference, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Wu Chih-chung (吳志中) presented the planned itinerary, noting that the Vatican will conduct the canonization ceremony for Mother Teresa on September 4. In light of the 74-year history of formal diplomatic ties between the Republic of China (ROC) and the Vatican, the importance of our bilateral cooperation and exchanges, Mother Teresa's 1985 visit to Taiwan, and the service that her Missionaries of Charity are still providing in the dioceses of Taipei and Tainan, President Tsai Ing-wen has designated Vice President Chen as a special envoy for this event. The vice president, a devout Catholic, will lead a delegation to attend the ceremony and convey sincere best wishes to the pope on behalf of the government, people, and Catholic brethren of Taiwan. Vice President Chen is invested as a Knight of both the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great, significant honors that make him an exemplary representative.
Deputy Minister Wu pointed out that the codename for this trip, the Saint's Peace Project, signifies that Vice President Chen's attendance at the canonization ceremony is an expression of utmost respect for Mother Teresa's contribution to world peace. The trip will last a total of six days, with the delegation flying roundtrip aboard a civil aircraft departing on the evening of September 2 (Friday), and returning to Taiwan on September 8 (Thursday).
Deputy Minister Wu then mentioned that in keeping with Vatican convention and protocol for this event, the official members of the delegation will include Vice President Chen, as special envoy, his wife, National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Tseng Hou-jen (曾厚仁), and Mr. Wu himself. The four official delegation members will be accompanied by the requisite support staff.
Deputy Minister Wu also stated that in addition to attending the canonization ceremony and extending greetings to the pope, the vice president will be meeting with high-level clergy, and hosting a banquet for Taiwan personnel stationed at the Vatican and leaders from our expatriate community in Italy. He will also visit the ROC embassy at the Vatican and the Taipei Representative Office in Italy, as well as the town of Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis. The vice president will also arrange to have a holy mass celebrated to pray for peace and blessings.
Deputy Minister Wu also mentioned that a Taiwan folk arts group, the Taipei Philharmonic Chamber Choir, has been invited to perform at the canonization ceremony, and that Vice President Chen has accepted the choir's invitation to act as honorary choirmaster for this event. This performance expresses the Taiwan government's support and encouragement for domestic folk arts groups to engage in international exchanges, while also offering to the Vatican and the pope our government's sincere best wishes in the form of beautiful, soul-stirring music.
Deputy Minister Wu emphasized that having Vice President Chen lead a delegation to attend this canonization ceremony will show the Vatican our country's sincere respect for Mother Teresa, and will further enhance the close interactions and friendly diplomatic relations between the ROC and the Vatican.