THE POPE praised Taiwan's government for its strong record of religious freedom, as he welcomed its new ambassador to the Vatican.
Pointing out the contrast between the continuing hostility of mainland China to all forms of religious expressions, and the "close and friendly relationsthe Holy See enjoys with Taiwan, the Pontiff stressed that the encounter between Chinese humanism and
Catholicism had resulted in a "profound and fruitful exchange".
In his welcome to Ambassador Edward Wu Tsu Yu, the Pontiff praised the Church in Taiwan for its strong social role in health care. education and other areas. This presence demonstrates the Church's constant willingness to contribute to the common good, the Pope said.
The Vatican, whose ambassador to mainland China was banished by authorities there, established a mission in Taiwan at the beginning of the 1960s.
The Vatican still has no diplomatic relations with mainland China and few official contacts with the Communist Government there.
The Pope said he appreciated the fact that the Church in Taiwan had been able to carry out its mission, "without interference or discrimination".