Monday, January 20, 2014

“Real people must be at the centre of all diplomatic action”

The Vatican Secretary of State, Pietro ParolinHe 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.

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