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Updated: November 24, 1998 05:00 PM GMT
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Pope John Paul II has appointed Father Thomas Yeh Sheng-nan of Tainan diocese in southern Taiwan as apostolic nuncio to Sri Lanka, making him the first Chinese to be an ambassador of the Holy See.

Archbishop-elect Yeh, who is also the first Chinese to receive diplomatic training in the Vatican, was named titular bishop of Leptis Magna in North Africa, the Vatican announced Nov. 10.

He speaks Chinese, English, French, German and Italian, and was serving as a counselor at the Apostolic Nunciature in Great Britain when the appointment was made. He succeeds Archbishop Osvaldo Padilla, who was the first Asian to head the Colombo-based nunciature.

He arrived in Fengshan, southern Taiwan, to visit his mother in hospital on Nov. 20, and is permitted to receive episcopal ordination in Kaohsiung before heading out for Sri Lanka, "United Daily" in Taiwan reported Nov. 21.

Father John Baptist Wu Chung-yuan, secretary general of Taiwan´s Chinese Regional Bishops´ Conference, told UCA News Nov. 20 that the local Church has invited the archbishop-elect to be ordained in Taiwan.

The 58-year-old Archbishop-elect Yeh holds a doctorate in philosophy from Pontifical Urban University and received training from the university´s institute of diplomacy. He obtained a master´s degree in canon law from Pontifical Lateran University.

Since he joined the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1976, he has served in Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, Zambia, Algeria, Iraq, Australia, Senegal and Great Britain.

Born in a Catholic family in Kaohsiung in 1941, he was ordained a diocesan priest of Tainan in 1971, both in southern Taiwan.


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