Secretariat's Purpose Is Evangelization, Says Pope

It's Not About Power and Prestige, He Tells Aides

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI encouraged his aides in the Vatican Secretariat of State not to work "to defend a power," but to open up paths to Jesus Christ.



The Pope made that plea Saturday when meeting with the officials in the library of the secretariat, which works closely with the Supreme Pontiff in the exercise of his universal mission.

In the informal meeting, the Holy Father acknowledged that "little by little I am learning something about the structure of the Secretariat of State."

"We do not work -- as many say about work -- to defend a power," he explained. "We do not have a worldly, secular power. We do not work for prestige, we do not work to have an enterprise grow or something similar.

"We really work so that the paths of the world will open to Christ. And all our work, with all its ramifications, in the end, serves precisely so that his Gospel, as well as the joy of redemption, may reach the world."

Citing the words that Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, addressed to him at the start of the meeting, Benedict XVI said that "also in the small jobs of each day, apparently not very glorious, in the measure we can, we become collaborators of Truth, namely, of Christ, in his work in the world, so that the world will really become the Kingdom of God."

"Fellow Workers in the Truth," words from the Third Letter of John, was the motto of Joseph Ratzinger's episcopal ministry.

Two sections

Before the meeting, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, Vatican secretary for relations with states, commented on the number of employees working in the dicastery.

"We are really a very reduced number," said the Pope. "It is an honor for the Holy See that such a small number of people do a very great job for the universal Church."

The origins of the Secretariat of State go back to the 15th century.

Its present organization and attributions were established by Pope John Paul II in the 1988 apostolic constitution "Pastor Bonus." He divided the Secretariat of State into two sections: the Section for General Affairs and the Section for Relations with States.

The Secretariat of State is headed by a cardinal who receives the title of secretary of state. Benedict XVI confirmed Cardinal Sodano in this post.

The first collaborator of the Pope in the governance of the universal Church, the cardinal secretary of state may be considered the highest appointed figure of the diplomatic and political activity of the Holy See, representing, in particular circumstances, the person of the Supreme Pontiff himself.

The Section for General Affairs, which handles matters in the Pope's daily service, is headed by Archbishop Leonardo Sandri.

The Section for Relations with States, directed by Archbishop Lajolo, handles affairs that must be addressed by civil governments, including the stipulation of concordats or similar agreements and the Holy See's representation in international organizations and conferences.