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The Vatican in the Family of Nations

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The Vatican in the Family of Nations

Intervention by His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State

Presentation of the book:
The Vatican in the Family of Nations

Villa Richardson,

22 September 2017




Ladies and

I am delighted to speak to you this evening at the presentation of Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi”€™s book, The Vatican in the Family of Nations
Firstly, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mr. Louis Bono, Charge d”€™Affaires a.i. of the Embassy of the United States of America to the Holy See, for organizing this significant event.

I wish also to thank all of you, who honour this evening by your presence and your interest in the publication of this book crowning Archbishop Tomasi”€™s service as Permanent Observer (Head of Mission) of the Holy See”€™s Observer Mission in Geneva from 2002 until

1. I cannot hide my pleasant surprise at two key aspects to this work: its weightiness “€“
and I”€™m not referring only to the number of pages and to the prestige of the publisher, Cambridge University Press; and the purpose it fulfils. The book is not merely a collection of
essays, but sheds light on what has been achieved by the Holy See”€™s diplomacy,
specifically in the multilateral context, and out of its solicitude for the global human family. This diplomacy is concerned with peace, human rights, development, migratory movement of peoples, education, trade, intellectual property, communication and international cooperation construed in the widest possible terms.

All this directly forms part of the ecclesial dimension specific to Papal diplomacy. Indeed, the Church”€™s catholicity, that is,
her universality, has always been evident in her proclamation to different cultures, societies and institutions of the message of Jesus of Nazareth, while being faithful to his command to proclaim the “€œGood News”€ to all peoples. History shows that since her origins, the Church has paid special attention to socially vulnerable and marginalized groups,
in order to promote their growth, development and even survival, going out towards the “€œexistential margins”€.

The Holy See in its diplomatic work follows the rules and practice of international law, and offers itself as a voice of mediation and of making proposals, and not solely as a point of
moral reference. Thus, it works for the
elaboration of rules for the peaceful settlement of disputes, for the regulation of international relations and for the protection, through
intergovernmental institutions, of the dignity of every person, beyond ethnic,
religious or cultural affiliation.

Even though making use of structures and instruments of international sovereignty, the Holy See”€™s activity remains distinct from that of other States, since it has no commercial, military or political interests to defend or pursue, but serves rather the interests of the person, of every person; in this way it places
itself at the service of the common good of the whole human family. The protection of the human person evokes the idea of subsidiarity as a principle that regulates the social order. Indeed, with the human person as the point of
departure, the principle of subsidiarity guarantees individual rights and freedoms, including those linked to the community dimension: to freedom of association and to the creation of social groups and all intermediate bodies, up to the level of the State and therefore to the international community and its institutions.

For the Church, however, all this is based on the force of love that inspires too the diplomatic activity of the Holy See. Pope Francis summarizes this skilfully when he writes that: “€œ [Love] is the only strength that renders [the Church] universal and credible to
mankind and the world; this is the heart of her truth, which does not erect walls of division and exclusion, but makes herself a bridge that builds communion and calls the human race to unity; this is her secret power, which
nourishes her tenacious hope, invincible despite momentary defeats “€. [1] In this way, we understand why it is often said that the Holy See”€™s diplomacy is one of “€œsoft power”€, namely a diplomacy that depends on the
ability to know and understand situations and thus to be persuasive. Papal diplomacy, in short, acts as a voice of conscience, drawing attention to anthropological, ethical and religious aspects of the various questions that affect the lives of peoples, Nations and the
international community as a whole.

2. The numerous interventions contained in the volume show more than anything that at
the heart of this mission there is a clear idea of the human person, of their inherent dignity, as well as their will and freedom as realized in a variety of fields. This is concerned with the
application to international relations of what is expressed in the Church”€™s social teaching as it confronts the organization of society and otherCchallenges that affect the social nature of the person. I have in mind relations with family,Ceconomic activity, culture, politics, justice and human rights, disarmament,
the environment.

By expressing the necessary synthesis between the dimensions of faith and reason,
the interventions here offer the possibility of taking steps towards a consolidated teaching, but one that needs to demonstrate its vitality in theCunfolding of history, for it is precisely with reference to social issues, that
“€œthis teaching is called to be enriched
by taking up new challenges”€
. [2] Evidence is provided by the attention given to questions that transcend a simple appeal for peace to focus on the prevention of conflicts. In this regard, we can then speak of a “€œhuman factor of peace”€, by considering firstly the role of the person capable of building peace, but alsoVcapable of making peace falter, even rejecting it by turning to weapons and violence. At this point the role that each
of us can play is revealed, in line with our responsibilities and duties, inCending wars and more than anything in preventing them, by enabling all possibleXmeans, from justice to reconciliation, from the reduction of military spending to disarmament. This latter dimension is returned to repeatedly in the volume; it is a dimension aimed in particular at the disarmament sector in its planned and gradual vision under the
United Nations Charter (articles 11 and 47). In this regard, an official announcement has been made indicating the Holy Father”€™s desire to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear
Weapons , adopted at the United Nations in July this year, and signed and ratified by the Holy See in New York two days ago.

It is not, therefore, a question of simply re-proposing the idea that the mission of
the Holy See”€™s diplomacy is to favour the unity of the human family, but also to promote the tools capable of achieving such a goal. Hence the role of the Papal diplomatic service is to foster dialogue between Nations, cooperation to inspire the conduct of Governments and peoples for the common good with peaceful coexistence as the ultimate goal. The Holy Father, speaking to the Papal Representatives at their meeting for the Jubilee of Mercy, described their function as that of “€œ
witnesses of communion”€ engaged in overcoming tensions, misunderstandings and conflicts in every form: “€œ
You are the bearers and artisans of that communion that it is the sap
for the life of the Church and for the proclamation of her message.

When conceived and interpreted
in this way, diplomatic action becomes the way to follow, take part in and
affect international life and its daily developments, while keeping always in
mind the universal mission of the Church and the expectations that the world
expresses through a desire for peace, justice and the common good. Within the International Organizations, the
Gospel message must be presented in ways that can reach people today, establishing
a continuous dialogue with the contemporary world with its variety and differences. In its contribution to the international debate, the Holy See is well aware of the context of pluralism and of the diversity of visions, but it knows as well that in each, beyond differences, are present the seeds of a common humanity.

3. A second aspect emerges from this publication that Archbishop Tomasi and a close-knit team of collaborators entrust today to the diplomatic, academic and political
world. The statements bear witness to
the increasing involvement of the Holy See in multilateral diplomacy, giving
substance to the vision of Giovanni Battista Montini, Blessed Paul VI, when as
Substitute of the Secretariat of State, he formalized relations between the
Holy See and the institutions of the incipient United Nations system, a vision
that the same Pope reiterated during his visit to the headquarters of the
United Nations in 1965. At that moment
the discussion at the Second Vatican Council on the relationship between the
Church and the world was highlighting the necessity of a common commitment to
unite peoples and not only to make them coexist; this was a commitment that,
according to Pope Paul VI, the United Nations Organization could fulfil by
creating “€œ
a system of solidarity that
will ensure that lofty civilizing goals receive unanimous and orderly support
from the whole family of nations, for the good of each and all. This is the finest aspect of the United
Nations Organization, its very genuine human side
“€. [4]

that far-off 4 October 1965, Papal visits to the United Nations and the
International Organizations have strengthened this dialogue, showing that,
although the anthropological premises and perspectives on issues may often
differ, the aim for both is attention to the human person, especially those who
last; and is the capacity to “€œbring out, for sake of the common good, the
best in each people and in every individual
“€. [5]

the contributions gathered in this volume, those working in diplomacy will find
confirmation that there are indeed differences “€“ even substantial ones “€“
between the solutions proposed by the Holy See and those offered by
States. There are also divergences in
the motivations offered or in the arrangements that are sought, looking maybe
for a
consensus that facilitates
agreement on what is to be omitted or ignored, but only highlights the minimum
that is achievable. Thus, faced with the
new challenges and even the repeated threats that crowd the international
scene, the most realistic picture that emerges is that of an action concerned
with becoming newsworthy, whilst overlooking the causes of events and the
foundations of the life of international relations. This is true of those principles, formulated
with a view to security in dramatic circumstances, which are mocked as
ineffective actions and solutions, even being adopted outside the
intergovernmental assemblies in order to leave room for unilateral action. Similarly, whilst the prevalence of selfish
interests is repeatedly highlighted as one of the causes of poverty, of lack of
development, of the upheaval of different ecosystems, of the race to exploit
territories and resources, we do not penalise behaviours that cause such
situations. This happens despite the
existence of clear rules and procedures, or of a public opinion that wants to
see the order amongst Nations guaranteed and therefore the peaceful coexistence
of the human family, recognising development and security to inseparably

And so
how can we look to the future? Can we
still express confidence in addition to hope?
Turning to this volume, we find reference to the
Sustainable Development Goals, formulated by the United Nations in
2015 within the
2030 Agenda. They are presented as the best summary of how
to avoid irreparable damage to the planet and its inhabitants, in keeping with
the elucidations of the Encyclical
Si”€™. This means working with the
tools and the rules provided by the law and the institutions of the
international community, to give substantive answers, first and foremost to
prevent conflicts, protect rights, encourage development and enable

For its
part, the Holy See”€™s diplomacy offers its voice seeking solutions and
agreements capable of avoiding any possible degeneration towards the
irrationality of the force of arms. This
is the meaning of being true “€œpeace-makers”€ and not “€œ
war makers or makers of misunderstandings”€ [6], as Pope Francis has often stated. Historically, this mediating role played by
the Holy See has been crucial in different circumstances and it wants to be so
even today, through a synergy between the activity of Papal diplomats both on
the ground in various countries and in the intergovernmental institutions. The Holy See representatives will never be an
intermediary, but rather mediators, namely those who “€œcreate communion with their mediation.”€ [7] This action
certainly sounds unusual for the internationalist language, but even in a
fragmented manner, torn apart by the idea of global processes, it is communion
that channels strategies, goals and actions towards unity, encouraging
solidarity rather than mere coexistence.

4. As the
Secretary of the United Nations, António Guterres, writes in the conclusions of
the book, “€œ
the Holy See”€™s diplomatic
contribution is not limited to the mere observation of current events or to the
announcement of solemn principles. It rather intends “€“ and often successfully “€“
to influence the decision-making process, often proposing solutions to the
political, economic and social situations of impasse.
“€ This has been Archbishop Silvano Maria
Tomasi”€™s significant contribution to the work of the Church over his thirteen
years as the Holy See”€™s Permanent Observer at the United Nations Office in
Geneva. With great commitment, he has
passionately devoted himself to the various fields of the multi-faceted world
of the United Nations, holding the Church”€™s mission in the world and in human
history as source of certainty and ultimate goal. His patient and focused work of negotiation and
personal participation in the issues discussed, helped the Holy See to become a
protagonist of some major achievements from the 2008
Cluster Munitions Convention, to the issue of the access to
medicines within the World Trade Organization (WTO), to reaching the 2013
Marrakesh Treaty, now in force, which
has overcome the limits and exceptions to privatization rights in the face of
an overriding interest: the access to culture for visually impaired
people. Finally, I cannot pass over the
commitment within international trade law, where the 2013 and 2015 Bali and
Nairobi agreements at the WTO, have illustrated how multilateralism in the
trade area can be a sustainable solution.

book bears witness to the diversified and intelligent way in which Archbishop
Tomasi participated in the life of the United Nations. As believers, we obviously cannot doubt that
our Father will provide what we need (Mt 6:32), but as women and men who live
their earthly pilgrimage every day, we do certainly have the responsibility to
engage every day in promoting peace, development and respect for human
rights. Simply aiming at these goals is
not enough, for the intention to act alone is not sufficient: concrete and
coherent action is needed, well-conceived initiatives and, above all, the full
awareness that each one of us, whatever our different tasks, duties and
functions, must counter the “€œglobalization of indifference”€ and purely
utilitarian selfishness, in order to do something substantively good for
others, also through multilateral institutions.

In this
way we can avoid stagnation becoming the only strategy left, with the use of
arms as the only answer, with development as merely a goal. Thus we can consolidate true fraternity
within the human family. Archbishop
opus magnum points out a way
to translate our daily commitment into practice.

[1] Pope Francis, “€œTo the future diplomats of the Holy See”€, in L”€™Osservatore
Romano, 26 June 2015, p. 8.

[2] Cfr. Pope Francis,
Encyclical Letter
Laudato Si”€™, 63.

[3] Pope Francis, Meeting with Papal Representatives, 16 September 2016.

[4] Blessed Paul VI, Speech to
the United Nations Organization
, 4 October 1965.

[5] Pope Francis, Speech to the United Nations
, 25 September 2015.

[6] Pope Francis,
Morning Homily in the Chapel of the Domus
Sanctae Marthae
, 9 June 2014 (“€œThe Christian Identity Card”€).

[7] Pope Francis, Address to the Participants in the Papal Representatives Days,
21 June 2013.


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