Archbishop Mamberti on the Church's Diplomacy

"One of the objectives of papal diplomacy is precisely that of building bridges between all men, so that each one can find in the other not an enemy, not a competitor, but a brother to welcome and embrace"

Vatican City, (Zenit.org) | 1023 hits

Here is a translation of a text given today by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Vatican secretary for Relations with States, at the presentation of a book by the former secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, “Papal Diplomacy in a Globalized World.”

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In a collection of writings and addresses of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone

The Role of Papal Diplomacy in the  Globalized World.

Service of Conscience by DOMINIQUE MAMBERTI.

The specificity of the teaching of a Pontiff is never severed from the continuity that is shared by all Popes. Some topics constitute, therefore, the fil rouge of the diplomatic action of the Holy See. One of these “red threads” is peacebuilding. In fact this expression was used by the Holy Father Francis in his fist address to the Diplomatic Corps last March 22. Indeed, one of the objectives of papal diplomacy is precisely that of “building bridges between all men, so that each one can find in the other not an enemy, not a competitor, but a brother to welcome and embrace.” The volume we present today runs through such building work be it in the third part, entitled “Building Conditions of Peace,” as well as in an important contribution of the then Don Tarcisio Bertone in the symposium between the ecclesiastical universities and the institutes of higher studies, held in December of 1986. In that writing, Professor Bertone recalls the teaching of Pontiffs beginning with Pius XII, showing how “the teaching of Popes after 1945, especially in the indeclinable reference to the Gospel of peace and to a ‘metaphysics of peace’ built on the principles of moral order, is the light that has guided the action and the interventions of the ecclesial communities so that the binomial man-peace (…), would become an authentic unitive and solidaristic dynamism for a vast education to peace.”

In truth, this action in favor of peace, which marks in a major way the most recent teaching, has very ancient roots. Indeed, “in leading forward the ‘practice of peace’ – evokes again the mentioned contribution – the Apostolic See has carried out numerous intervention of arbitration,” beginning with the Medieval mediations pro pace reformanda inter gentes, passing to the action of pacification carried out by Blessed Pius IX in the Franco-Prussian conflict of 1870, or Leo XIII’s arbitration in the dispute between Germany and Spain on the possession of the Caroline Islands in 1885, to arrive at the so-called Beagle mediation of Blessed John Paul II between Argentina and Chile in 1978. In fact dedicated on the 30th anniversary of this event was a message of Cardinal Bertone addressed to, in the name of Benedict XVI, the then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, in which is recalled that “the Beagle mediation continues to be a paradigm to propose to the attention of the International Community. It demonstrated (…) how in every controversy dialogue does not prejudice rights and, instead, widens the field of reasonable possibilities to resolve the divergences.” The promotion of the so-called “culture of dialogue and of encounter,” as Pope Francis loves to describe it, thus turns out to be one of the cornerstones of papal diplomacy throughout the whole of recent history.

In his Message for the World Day of Peace of 2009, Benedict XVI reminded that the building of peace can in no way be separated from the fight against poverty. This connection, uprooting of poverty-building of peace constitutes undoubtedly a proprium of papal diplomacy. “They are as the points of reference of a path” to which the Holy See invites all peoples to take part, as Pope Francis himself evoked. It is a bi-univocal movement. On one hand: “to build peace, one must give back hope to the poor,” on the other this hope cannot be given where the clash of arms does not cease. The fight against poverty, therefore, is the second fil rouge of the diplomacy of the Holy See, because it constitutes on its own one of the pillars of the action itself of the Church, which with her many charitable works has contributed throughout the centuries and still contributes to the building of peace, primarily through the patient charity of numerous saints and religious institutes founded by them. The Holy Father reminded, however, that poverty has a double connotation. First of all, there is the more evident one that is born of material indigence. Beside it ”there is also another poverty! It is the spiritual poverty of our days, which gravely concerns as well those countries considered richer.”

To uproot such a kind of poverty implies first of all to propose again the centrality of the person. It is a subject that appears explicitly or implicitly in almost all the addresses of the Secretary of State.

To speak of the centrality of man entails first of all a clear and systematic re-proposition of his dignity and because of this, of the importance of the protection of human rights, among which is the right to religious liberty, which Benedict XVI describes as “the first of human rights,” and with it the relation between the Church and the Civil Authorities. This implies also a re-proposition of the ethical breath of human action, which is one of the cardinal topics of the encyclical Caritas in veritate. This means, finally,as Cardinal Bertone explains, “to rediscover first of all the bonds that constitute [man] and that allow for his human and integral growth,” or “to appreciate and favor his transcendental dimension.”

In his last address to the Diplomatic Corps last January, Benedict XVI reminded that: “To know the truth seems impossible and the efforts to affirm it seem often to result in violence. Moreover, according to the now widespread conception, the commitment to peace is reduced to a merely human exercise of the search for a commitment that guarantees coexistence between peoples or between citizens within the State.

On the contrary, in the Christian point of view there is a profound connection between the glorification of God and the peace of men on earth, so that peace does not arise from a mere effort, but rather participates in the very love of God. It is precisely the forgetting of God, and not his glorification, that generates violence.”

Understood, beginning from this connection, are the numerous appeals to the value of religion in civil society, to the importance of a positive secularity, but also a certain insistence on the so-called non-negotiable values, or the protection of life in all its phases from conception to natural death, the recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family, as union between one man and one woman based on matrimony, and the protection of the right of parents to educate their children. One cannot be silent about the fact that not rarely such appeals have been regarded with suspicion, however the intent of the Holy See is always purposeful. The peculiarity of the diplomacy of the Holy See is that of being a “service of conscience,” this because in the realm of “a just autonomy between the temporal order and the spiritual [it favors] a healthy collaboration and a sense of shared responsibility” between the Church and the Civil Authorities. In this connection, she wishes to establish “a dialogue that has at heart the integral good, spiritual and material, of every man, and that seeks to promote everywhere his transcendent dignity.” However, Benedict XVI noted again, how is it possible to establish a dialogue when one ceases to refer to an objective truth? In fact, “without a transcendent opening, man falls easy prey to relativism and it is then difficult for him to act according to justice and to commit himself to peace.” In its diplomatic action the Holy See cannot leave out of consideration what is the “genetic patrimony” of the Church, or the proclamation of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

This does not mean, however, that its action is marked by a blind fideism; on the contrary, it wishes to establish what is in conformity with the nature of every human being.”

Credit: Annamaria Papalini, “The New Conscience” (2010)

[Translation by ZENIT]