He was appointed Vatican Secretary of State at the end of August but only took up office a month later because he had to undergo an operation.
Just a few weeks after he started his new role and
a few days after the announcement of his nomination as cardinal, which
will become official in the Consistory on 22 February, Archbishop Pietro
Parolin gave an interview to the Vatican Television Centre on the role
of papal diplomacy.
In the interview conducted by Barbara Castelli,
Parolin reflected on his new mission and the role of Vatican diplomacy
on the international stage.
“I am aware of the fact that this is a tough
and very challenging role with great responsibilities. But I would also
like to underline that this role is one of passionate service, received
in this new season for the Church, heralded by Francis’ pontificate.
The Church’s priority is missionary transformation. The Church must go
out, as the Pope says, and be in a permanent missionary state.”
Referring to Francis’ “ethics of solidarity and
the utopia of the good,” the Vatican Secretary of State remarked: “The
Pope becomes humanity’s moral conscience to some extent.” In terms of
diplomacy, I would like to underline that, although at times it may seem
as though there is no immediate response to the Pope’s appeals, there
is in fact a strong desire for good and a great commitment to building
peace in the world for real.”
The Secretary of State described the “fundamental
principles” that lie at the base of “human diplomacy”, explaining: that
“diplomacy must be human. It must therefore put the human person at the
centre: this is the first fundamental principle. And I would like to say
that Pope Francis encourages us to consider the centrality of the human
person not in abstract terms but to see each human as an individual;
every individual must be at the centre of all our actions, particularly
the poor, the marginalised, the weak, the vulnerable and those who do
not have a voice.”
Another aspect that is worth underlining,
according to Parolin, is dialogue: “Diplomacy must be oriented towards
encounter: the Pope has often stressed the importance of the culture of
encounter, of coming out of isolation to meet others, because only
through encounter can we understand and accept each other and work
together. Another important aspect, besides encounter, is solidarity and
taking others’ situation to heart, again today’s culture of
indifference which the Pope continually speaks out against. We must take
each single person and their personal experience of suffering to heart.
Human diplomacy is essentially about love, attention to each individual
and love for each human being.”
As far as the specific contribution of Vatican
diplomacy is concerned, the Secretary of State told the Vatican
Television Centre: “I believe this is our task and has always been the
task of Vatican diplomacy. At this moment in time, when there are so
many conflicts and the world is experiencing much distress and
hostility, I believe we are called now more than ever to foster and
consolidate this spirit of encounter, of dialogue and of mutual respect.
I think that one of the main challenges the world faces today is
ensuring that the political, cultural or religious differences and
diversity that are now in closer contact [in today’s globalised world]
do not become a cause for conflict but for mutual enrichment. It is
crucial to find the right path in order to allow each single difference
to enrich us. This is diplomacy’s aim in general and Vatican diplomacy’s
aim in particular.”
Parolin’s entry to the College of Cardinals
indicates he is going to play an increasingly important role. Although
the reform that is currently under study is probably going to reduce the
Vatican Secretariat of State’s influence overall, Parolin is one of the
figures that is closest to Francis.
The full interview in Italian is available here.