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Taiwan donates to Catholic charities for Ukraine refugees

Chen Chien-jen, a Catholic and Taiwan's special envoy, reportedly handed over the donation in Rome on Sept. 5

Taiwan's former Vice President Chen Chien-jen attends a Mass for peace in Ukraine at the Minor Basilica of Santa Sofia

Taiwan's former Vice President Chen Chien-jen attends a Mass for peace in Ukraine at the Minor Basilica of Santa Sofia. (Photo courtesy of Embassy of Taiwan in the Holy See)

Published: September 12, 2022 10:41 AM GMT

Updated: September 12, 2022 10:51 AM GMT

Taiwan has donated a total of US$ 89,600 to various Catholic groups in Europe to support humanitarian aid to refugees who fled Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Former Taiwanese Vice President Chen Chien-jen handed over the donation on behalf of the government following a Mass for peace in Ukraine at the Minor Basilica of Santa Sofia, a Ukrainian Church in Rome on Sept. 5, Focus Taiwan reported.

Chen, 71, a Catholic and member of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, donated the funds to three Catholic groups and the Minor Basilica of Santa Sofia.

During his address after the Mass, Chen praised Ukrainians for their unyielding resistance against Russia’s aggression.

He stated that Taiwan deeply sympathized with the suffering of Ukrainians and would learn from Ukraine's example to firmly defend themselves in the face of “China's intimidation and military threats.”

On the same day, Chen visited Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the head of the Office of Papal Charities, and handed over $35,081 to support the works of papal charities, specifically emergency relief efforts in Ukraine.

Cardinal Krajewski who visited Ukraine on behalf of Pope Francis thanked the government and people of Taiwan for offering aid to the Ukrainian people on numerous occasions.

Chen also visited some of the other Catholic charity organizations and handed over funds for assisting Ukrainians.

Chen donated to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and to Caritas Internationalis - the humanitarian and development organization of the Catholic Church during separate visits to each of them.

Grand Chancellor Riccardo Paternò di Montecupo of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and other officials greeted Chen, and both exchanged their views on issues ranging from cross-Taiwan Strait relations to humanitarian efforts, according to Taiwan’s embassy in the Vatican.

Chen was President Tsai's special envoy to the beatification ceremony of Pope John Paul I on Sept. 4 and is currently on a nine-day trip to the Holy See from Sept. 3-11.

According to Taiwan's Presidential Office, Chen is leading a delegation of six, including his wife Lo Fong-ping, a security detail, and his staff during his visit to the Vatican.

Chen received the Knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre in 2010 and the Order of St. Gregory the Great in 2013 for his contributions to the church.

He served as the Vice President of Taiwan from 2016-2020. He headed the National Science Council from 2006 to 2008 and was a member of the Board of Trustees of Taiwan’s renowned Fu Jen Catholic University

An acclaimed epidemiologist, Chen was hailed for leading Taiwan’s successful battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.  

As of 2021, about 4 percent of Taiwan’s 24 million population are Christians, while Buddhists make up about 35 percent, Taoists 33 percent, and non-religious about 19 percent. There are about 300,000 Catholics in Taiwan.

Taiwan, formerly known as Formosa Island, is a sovereign and democratic nation, though it never officially declared independence. China views Taiwan as one of its provinces and reputedly threatened to annex the island militarily.

Taiwan maintains diplomatic relations with 14 countries and maintains unofficial and economic relations with some 47 states.

The Vatican is the only European state to have diplomatic ties with Taiwan, while the United States is its strongest ally.

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