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Barred prelate looks at mainland

Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-hsi's Matsu visit allows him to see his homeland

Cardinal Paul Shan (third right) and other speakers at the peace forum 

 

 

 
Cardinal Paul Shan (third right) and other speakers at the peace forum
  • Francis Kuo, Matsu
  • Taiwan
  • August 31, 2011
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A cardinal who was denied a travel permit to visit the place of his birth in China recently, has done the next best thing by visiting a Taiwanese archipelago just off the Chinese coast.

Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-hsi went to the Matsu Islands last week, a former military zone a few nautical miles off the coast of China’s Fujian province but more than 100 nautical miles from Taiwan itself, to speak about peace and love.

Matsu is the closest the 89-year-old cardinal could get to the mainland after Beijing denied him the chance of visiting his birthplace by refusing him a travel permit in June.

During his Matsu visit, Cardinal Shan, retired bishop of Kaohsiung, gave a speech on life to about 400 residents, military officers stationed there and other guests.

He also joined a dialogue with Buddhist Master Hsing Yun and Chen Chang-ven, president of the Red Cross Society of Taiwan, on “Charity and Peace” which preceded the opening of an international peace forum on August 25 hosted by the Lienchiang county government.

“Charity seems to have nothing to do with peace but it is a foundation for it. It is a medicine to eliminate destructing factors to peace, such as selfishness, arrogance and greediness,” Cardinal Shan said during the dialogue.

Lienchiang county has two administrations: the mainland part (Lianjiang), controlled by the People’s Republic of China, and Matsu, the offshore part controlled by Taiwan.

Matsu became an important frontline military base in 1949 when the Nationalist government retreated to Taiwan from mainland China.  Military control was lifted in 1992 but the scars of war that still remain there remind the Taiwan people why peace should be maintained.

In 2001, as cross-straits relations began to improve, Matsu was chosen as the first location for a direct sea transportation link to mainland China.

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