Holy See–Taiwan relations

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This article is about the relations with the Republic of China. For the relations with the People's Republic of China, see China–Holy See relations.
Taiwan–Holy See relations
Map indicating locations of ROC and Vatican City

Republic of China

Vatican City

Relations between the Holy See and the Republic of China (whose continuation is now commonly known as Taiwan) were established on a non-diplomatic level in 1922, with the appointment of Archbishop Celso Benigno Luigi Costantini as head of an Apostolic Delegation in China.[1][2] Though Archbishop Costantini did not have diplomatic status, the Chinese government gave him the same honours as those granted to the diplomatic corps accredited to China at the funeral of Sun Yat-sen in 1925.[3] Archbishop Costantini left China in 1933 and was succeeded by Archbishop Mario Zanin, who likewise was given all the honours reserved for Ministers Plenipotentiary.[4]

Agreement to establish diplomatic relations had been reached in 1917, but this move was blocked by France, which by the treaties imposed on China at the end of the Second Opium War held a "protectorate" over the Catholic missions in the country.[1][2][5]

Diplomatic relations were finally established on 23 October 1942[6] and, with the presentation by Archbishop Antonio Riberi of his letter of credence to the President in 1946, the Holy See's Apostolic Delegation in China gained diplomatic status.[7][8]

There was a period of confusion after the Republic of China government moved to Taipei in 1949. Although many diplomatic missions followed the government to Taipei, the Holy See's mission remained on the mainland and sought contact with the new Communist regime, the People's Republic of China, which did not accept him as a diplomat and in 1951 expelled him (see the Death of Antonio Riva). In the following year, the Holy See, having been rejected by the Beijing government, resumed relations with the previous (Nationalist) government, which after its defeat on the mainland had moved to Taipei and continued to claim to represent all of China under the name of "Republic of China".[9]

Taiwan has an embassy to the Holy See in Rome and the Holy See maintains a mission in Taipei, headed, since the decision of the United Nations to recognize the Beijing government as the government of China, not by a nuncio but only by a chargé d'affaires.

On April 8, 2005, Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian attended the funeral of Pope John Paul II. In March 2013, ROC President Ma Ying-jeou visited Vatican City to attend the inauguration of Pope Francis. However, no pope—even John Paul II, by far the most-traveled pope—has ever visited the areas controlled by the Taipei government.

As is usual for countries which maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the Holy See in diplomacy recognises the Republic of China government as the government of China. As a result, when arranged alphabetically with other heads of state in Vatican ceremonies, ROC presidents are arranged under "Chine", French for "China" (French being the diplomatic language of the Holy See).


See also[edit]