Vice President Chen Chien-jen (???) departed late Friday for the Vatican, saying he prayed for peace in the world and across the Taiwan Strait and for the endurance of friendship between Taiwan and the Holy See.
At the invitation of the Vatican, Chen embarked on the trip on behalf of President Tsai Ing-wen (???) to attend the canonization ceremony of Mother Teresa, which will take place Sunday.
Speaking to reporters and those who went to the airport to see him off, Chen praised the late missionary and winner of the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize for her life-long promotion of love and peace.
The mission founded by Mother Teresa has continued to serve parts of Taiwan to this day, noted the vice president, who is expected to return to Taiwan on Sept. 8.
During the visit, Chen said he will send the regards of the people and the government of Taiwan in his audience with the pope.
In a statement released Friday, the MOFA described as "significant" the visit by Chen, a devout Christian and a member of two Roman Catholic orders -- the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
The statement said the Republic of China shares the values of religious freedom, democracy and human rights and support for humanitarian relief with the Vatican. During his stay, Chen will act to boost the interactions and friendship between the two countries, it said.
The Vatican is the only country in Europe that maintains diplomatic ties with the ROC.
The relationship was established in July 1942. One year later, the ROC set up a legation in Rome, which was upgraded to an embassy in June 1959, according to MOFA data
Taiwan's presidents have put a high priority on relations with the Vatican over the past two decades, including former President Chen Shui-bian (???), who visited the Holy See in 2005 to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Chen was the first ROC president to visit Europe.
In March 2013, then President Ma Ying-jeou (???) and his wife Chow Mei-ching (???) visited the Vatican for the inauguration of Pope Francis. Ma's meeting with the pope marked the first meeting between leaders of the two nations since the ROC and the Vatican established formal ties in 1942.
On the week-long trip, Chen will be accompanied by his wife Luo Feng-ping (???) and a delegation that will include Deputy Foreign Minister Wu Chih-chung (???) and National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Tseng Hou-jen (???).
He will meet with high-ranking clergy during his stay in the Vatican, call on the ROC Embassy there and the ROC's representative office in Rome, and dine with Taiwanese clergy and expatriates living in Italy, according to the MOFA.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel