Switzerland to normalize diplomatic ties with the Vatican after Pope's visit

.- During Pope John Paul II's visit to Switzerland this past weekend, the President of the Swiss Confederation, Joseph Deiss,  formally announced that his country will normalize diplomatic ties with the Vatican.

President Deiss, in his welcome speech, announced that Switzerland, which broke off diplomatic ties with the Holy See in 1873 and only set up a lower-level mission in 1991, would normalize its relations with the Holy See and send a full ambassador-level representative to Rome.

Hansrudolf Hoffman, who has special emissary duties and currently resides in Prague, will be the Swiss ambassador to the Holy See.

The Holy See does have an apostolic nuncio in Switzerland, even though diplomatic ties have been an anomaly over the years. The first Church representative was sent to Lucerne in 1597 and was accredited for many centuries only to the Catholic cantons of Switzerland.

The Pope, in his speech at the airport, called Switzerland "a crossroads of languages and cultures," noting that the Swiss "preserve old traditions and yet are open to modern ideas."

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