Taipei’s new archbishop has expressed confidence that Taiwan’s relations with the Vatican will not be affected by the upcoming negotiations with Beijing on an expiring bishop appointment agreement.
Archbishop Thomas Chung An-zu, new prelate of Taipei, said July 18, that although the Vatican is concerned with evangelization in China, “this will not affect Taiwan-Vatican relations.”
The Holy See and the Chinese government signed a provisional agreement in 2018 on the appointment of bishops in the state-sponsored Church.
The provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops will expire in September.
In the wake of the deal, previously excommunicated bishops of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association were received into full communion with the Vatican.
With the renewal of the deal coming, observers have expressed concerns that Taiwan-Vatican relations could be affected.
Archbishop Chung, however, said the selection of a new Taipei archbishop is an indication that Pope Francis treasures the Vatican’s relations with Taiwan.
The Holy See is the only European state that acknowledges Taiwan as a country. The Vatican has not had formal diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China after the communists took control of the mainland in 1949 following civil war.
The prelate was quoted Catholic News Agency saying that Msgr. Arnaldo Catalan, chargé d’affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature in Taiwan, is satisfied with Taiwan’s church development and religious freedom.
Archbishop Chung, 68, was formally installed as archbishop of Taipei at Fu Jen Catholic University, after an apostolic letter from Pope Francis announcing his appointment was read out by Msgr. Catalan.
He replaces Archbishop John Hung Shan Chuan, 76, who resigned after reaching the mandatory age limit for church leaders. He will also serve as the apostolic administrator of Taiwan’s outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu.
Archbishop Chung’s installation ceremony on July 18 was attended by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, former vice president Chen Chien-jen, and civil and religious leaders.
President Tsai praised Archbishop Chung for his efforts in promoting religious exchange and youth development. She expressed the hope that her government can work closely with the Catholic Church to provide more opportunities for young people and make Taiwan a better place.