Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who was Vatican secretary of state from 2006 to 2013, has shared his views on papal diplomacy, emphasizing Pope Francis’ use of prayer in relations with states.
“Pope Francis has underscored, and put a special emphasis on, prayer as a diplomatic tool,” Cardinal Bertone told CNA March 7.
This stress was proven by Pope Francis’ call for a day of prayer and fasting Sep. 7 to address the “very serious issues of Syria,” he said. He also remembered “how many times -- now also for Ukraine, for Venezuela, for many countries in grave difficulty -- Pope Francis has convened a great prayer movement.”
Cardinal Bertone said Pope Francis thus “appreciates prayer as a diplomatic tool very much, and he has much confidence in it, because it is the Lord of history who is involved, through the intercession of the People of God, to guide the destiny of humanity, especially in the most crucial moments of the life of mankind.”
The cardinal, who retired as secretary of state Oct. 15, added that Pope Francis “values in a special way the role of papal representatives,” noting his June 21 address to participants in the papal representatives’ days.
In this address, Cardinal Bertone said the Pope “outlined the function of the papal representatives both, so to speak, within the Church, and their extra-ecclesial function.” Pope Francis also recommend to them “being on familiar terms with Jesus Christ in prayer” as their “daily nourishment.”
For these reasons, Cardinal Bertone maintained that Pope Francis “has continued to value traditional methods of papal diplomacy, as well as putting a special emphasis on prayer.”
Noting the traditional methods of Papal diplomacy – appeals during Angelus addresses and messages and meetings with heads of state – Cardinal Bertone said Pope Francis, “who has a very popular, immediate, and concrete style, has continued along this path, because he highly values the traditional methods of papal diplomacy.”
Having served as Benedict XVI’s secretary of state for most of his papacy, Cardinal Bertone also reflected on Benedict’s style of diplomacy.
“Benedict XVI placed precisely the full implementation of Vatican II at the center of the projects of his own pontificate – so he placed an emphasis on the dialogue between the Church and the world, and relationships between the Church and states.”
“The second section of the Secretariat of State incarnated this project of the Pope … bringing it concretely into relationships with heads of state, into actions and concrete interventions, into the works of mediation and of reconciliation,” Cardinal Bertone recounted.
Under Benedict XVI, Cardinal Bertone said, the Secretariat of State “incarnated” the Roman Pontiff’s indications regarding the natural law as a basis for dialogue with states and societies
“He set the foundations for … the prospects of legislation in accordance with an anthropology that takes into account human nature: respect for the human dignity of every man, of every woman, in the entirety of their existence and in every situation,” Cardinal Bertone concluded.
Editor's Note: This is the second of three articles to be published featuring material from CNA's March 7 interview with Cardinal Bertone. To see the first, please click here; for the third, here.