Address by Monsignor Paul Russell
Charge d'Affaires a.i. of the Holy See
On the occasion o the Holy Mass of Thanksgiving for the
Election of His Holiness Pope Francis
Taipei, Sunday 14 April 2013

Your Eminence Cardinal Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Holy See's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life,
Dear Archbishop Hung and Archbishop Liu and Bishops,
Your Excellencies the Civil Authorities,
Your Excellency Ambassador Sawadogo, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, and Your Excellencies the Ambassadors and Honorable Representatives of Countries together with your spouses and family members,
Esteemed Religious Authorities of Taiwan,
Dear Fathers, Sisters, and seminarians,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Peace be with you!

A cordial welcome to all of you to this Holy Mass in honor of His Holiness Pope Francis on the occasion of his Election as Pope and Bishop of Rome. When Pope Francis appeared in public for the first time on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, he bowed humbly to the enthusiastic crowd which had gathered and asked everyone to pray for him. This humble gesture was merely the first of many other humble and surprising gestures in which we have seen the pope's strong faith in God and his strong concern for the poor, lowly and suffering in imitation of Jesus Christ. So we have come together at the Mass to ask God to help Pope Francis fulfill the heavy responsibilities of his office.

The Catholics of Taiwan sincerely love the Pope, pray for him and make sacrifices for him. I can assure you that the Pope, for his part, loves the Catholics of Taiwan and indeed all the people of Taiwan. We can see this by the fact that Pope Francis was honored by the visit of President Ma Ying-jeou for his Inauguration Mass and welcomed the President warmly. It was the first time in history that Pope and President met - a strong sign of friendship and commitment to important shared values. We ask God to give Pope Francis wisdom and courage, health and strength to lead and inspire us for many years to come.

Once again, I express my heartfelt gratitude to all of you for coming in such large numbers and for your prayers here this afternoon. My sincere thanks goes to cardinal Braz de Avis for coming here from the Vatican on an official visit and for having accepted to celebrate this Mass in the midst of an already very heavy program. Your Eminence, when you return to the Vatican, please bring our heartfelt greetings to the Holy Father. Tell him that the Catholic Church in Taiwan loves him and is praying for him. I thank all those who worked hard to make all the arrangements for this celebration. I thank the Bishops and the priests who have come to concelebrate this Mass, those who have other liturgical roles at this Mass and especially the choir, whose song will raise our hearts and minds to God.

This Mass is also a way to honor all the men and women religious of Taiwan. Thank you for your lives of evangelical witness, your dedicated service, your sacrifice and prayers. God bless you all!