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Pope Francis invited to visit Taiwan

VATICAN (Agencies): Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan (洪山川) of Taipei, invited Pope Francis to visit Taiwan, possibly during the national Eucharistic Congress to be held on the island next March, AsiaNews and Reuters reported on May 11.
Reuters reported that the archbishop, who is in Rome for an ad limina visit together with six other Taiwanese bishops, said at a reception at Taiwan’s embassy to the Holy See, “No pope has ever landed in Taiwan.” 
Archbishop Hung also stressed that it is time to see the Church of Taiwan as a Church in its own right and the people of Taiwan as a whole, without wanting to absorb it into “one thing with China,” AsiaNews reported him as saying.
He added, “China and Taiwan are two Churches, two nations, two different ways of life (but) we help and support each other.”
Archbishop Hung said, “The first reason for the invitation is that no pope has ever come to Taiwan. Never, in 70 years. The history of Taiwan for the past 70 years is also a story of suffering. We too (like Christians in China) have always suffered in being considered as a nation to itself or as a part of China.”
The Church in Taiwan, was established by faithful, missionaries, priests and bishops who fled or were expelled from mainland China, who considered its presence on the island as only a temporary pause, before returning to China. Only in the last 20 to 30 years has its mission among the people of Taiwan taken greater priority. At there are around 300,000 local Catholics and almost as many migrant Catholics.
Archbishop Hung pointed out that the Church in Taiwan, as a bridge Church works with and supports the Church in China. 
“We receive and we have more than 300 priests and sisters (from the mainland) who study at Fu Jen Catholic University. In this way we support the Church’s hope in China by giving them degrees and diplomas. The Taiwanese Church also hosts international conferences on interreligious dialogue and globalisation issues, making an international contribution.”
The archbishop said that he had the support of the president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, to extend the invitation.
China considers Taiwan a rebel island that must be reabsorbed into unity even with the use of force and threatens to intervene if Taipei dares to declare any form of independence. 
The Holy See is one of only 19 states that still maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

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