Taiwan seeks papal alliance

China | REUTERS 16 Oct 2018

Taiwan has invited Pope Francis to visit, just weeks after the Vatican reached a milestone deal on the appointment of bishops with China.

Last month's deal gives the Holy See, Taiwan's last remaining diplomatic ally in Europe, a long-sought say over such appointments, although both sides call it "provisional" and sources said some key issues remain unresolved.

Taiwan Vice President Chen Chien-jen met Francis on Sunday and invited him to visit, President Tsai Ing-wen's office said, adding the pope replied he would pray for Taiwan. But it gave no date for the proposed visit.

On social media, Tsai thanked the pope for his blessings.

Although the Vatican says its September 22 deal is not political, some Taiwan officials worry it could be a prelude to establishing diplomatic ties with Beijing.

Taipei has routinely accused China of using dollar diplomacy and bullying to lure away its allies.

On October 1, the Vatican said Beijing would, for the first time, allow Chinese bishops to attend a major Vatican meeting.

However, Michael Yeung, the bishop of Hong Kong, said it will take time to tackle issues beyond the appointment of bishops and he feared suppression of Catholics in China would continue.

About a dozen bishops and priests remain in detention in China. Some have not been heard from in decades.

Beijing has provided little information about their fate.

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