.- Made public at the Holy See Press Office this morning, was a compilation of 12 speeches made by Cardinal Angelo Sodano over his nearly 16 years of service as the Vatican’s “Foreign Minister.” The book, written in Italian, is titled “Il lieveto del Vangelo: La presenza della Santa Sede nella vita dei popoli” (The Leaven of the Gospel: The presence of the Holy See in the life of the people).
Sodano served as Secretary of State under Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, guiding Church diplomacy through the end of the Cold War, two Gulf conflicts, the war in the Balkans, and the outbreak of international terrorism in the wake of September, 11th 2001, not to mention the ever-present tensions in the Holy Land.
Presenting the book were two officials of the Secretariat of State - Monsignor Gabriele Giordano Caccia, Councilor for General Affairs, and Monsignor Pietro Parolin, Under-Secretary for Relations with States. The two officials laid out the major themes of the work.
One of the strongest themes featured in the book and found at the heart of Sodano’s service, Msgr. Parolin pointed out, is “The central importance of human beings as the main inspiration of the Holy See’s diplomatic activity.”
Also central are Sodano’s, “considerations on the need to place ethical values at the foundation of all forms of social structure and human coexistence,” Parolin said.
Msgr. Caccia noted that the book is filled with examples of the pastoral side of Sodano’s ministry. “From between the lines,” Caccia said, “there emerges a desire to answer a question…on the meaning and significance of the Holy See’s presence in the life of peoples.”
“From the very opening pages Cardinal Sodano illustrates the pastoral mission of the Holy See, that aims ‘to introduce the leavening of Christianity into the life of nations,’” Caccia noted.
Quoting from the text, Caccia pointed out that, “The Church has no other raison d’etre in the world than that of continuing the work of the Lord. She has, in fact, been well defined as Christ…prolonged over the centruries.”
“This is even truer in our own times,” Msgr. Caccia concluded, “when the greatest challenges are not economic or technical, but first and foremost ethical and spiritual.”
Cardinal Sodano will step down from his post on September 15th, being replaced by another Italian, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.