Curia reform may include an office for negotiations in the Secretariat of State

St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Jan. 25, 2015. Credit: Bohumil Petrik/CNA.
St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Jan. 25, 2015. Credit: Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

.- The Vatican Secretary of State suggested Wednesday that an ‘office for pontifical mediation’ may established within the ranks of the Secretariat of State, in order to function as a link between the on-the-ground commitment of papal diplomacy and its commitment within international institutions.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin said March 11 that “facing an increase of armed conflicts – both internal and external – which are caused because of a lack of preventative actions or because of a lack in managing the post-conflict times, an attention to prevention (through the new office) will highlight the real meaning of the Holy See’s presence in the international community.”

He was speaking at Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he gave a lecture on “The diplomatic activity of the Holy See in the service of peace.”

According to Cardinal Parolin, the Holy See “works substantially on the international scene not to guarantee a generic security – made more difficult in this period of lasting instability – but to sustain an idea of peace as the fruit of just relations, of respect for international law, of the protection of fundamental human rights beginning with those of the least among us, the most vulnerable.”

“Without the commitment of pontifical diplomatic representations, how many believers would suffer of limits because of their faith? How many of the Church’s institutions would not maintain the vital connection with its central government that provides them guidelines, supports them, and gives them credibility?”

The cardinal also noted that “in the field of civil society, which forms of ethical guidance would be lacking were the Holy See not present in different intergovernmental contexts, in the areas of cooperation, disarmament, the struggle against poverty, the eradication of hunger, care for the sick, and promoting literacy?”

The Secretary of State noted that the Holy See has an understanding of peace “different from what is expressed in current international law,” since the Holy See “is convinced that no action for peace may be reasonable and valid if it keeps – even tacitly – references to war.”

Cardinal Parolin also urged a reform of the “ius ad bellum” (the right to war), and asked to foster instead a “ius contra belllum” (a right against war): that is, “norms capable to develop, make current and above all impose the already previewed international tools to bring controversies peacefully to an end, thus avoiding the use of arms.”

“I refer to dialogue, negotiations, treaties, mediation, and conciliation,” he said, which are “often considered as mere palliative means deprived of the necessary effectiveness.”

According to the Secretary of State, this may be the specific role of the Holy See.

Cardinal Parolin recalled that “during the 1980s, within the Secretariat of State’s Council for the Public Affairs, which is today the Section for the Relations with States, an office for the pontifical mediation was established.”

The office was established “in order to develop the juridical-political issues to bring the Argentine-Chilean dispute over the Beagle Channel to an end.”

This goal was finally achieved Nov. 29, 1984, when the Treaty of Peace and Friendship was signed. The treaty “put into effect the solution proposed by the Holy See.”

Cardinal Parolin emphasized that the Holy See has always acted for this purpose. He also mentioned Leo XIII's mediation to end the conflict between Spain and Germany for the Caroline Islands in 1885, and the recent restoration of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States.

The cardinal proposed the restoration of the office for pontifical mediation in order to foster the Holy See's commitment to international dialogue.

Speaking with journalists before the conference, Cardinal Parolin stated that “Pope Francis is completely convinced of the need for more dialogue, and he always gives us indication to do it.”

“The current conflicts or the clash of civilization, as it used to be called, may be achieved only through dialogue, which we have to carry forward with faith and hope, because sometimes the outcomes seem to be poor and would lead us to use other tools,” Cardinal Parolin said.

The cardinal said dialogue must be carried forward also with China, since this “can benefit peace in the world,” and so, “although there are problems at the level of the local Churches,” it is necessary “to think of solutions able to help the dialogue.”

Cardinal Parolin will travel to Belarus tomorrow, where he will bless the first stone of the new apostolic nunciature to be established there.

As Belarus borders Ukraine, it was expected that the Secretary of State was going to meet with Ukrainian representatives to try to mediate the crisis, but the cardinal dismissed the prospect.

He however added that “going to Belarus may be considered in a sense as a support to the mediation efforts that this country has and continues to make in the Ukraine crisis.”

Cardinal Parolin also lamented the “indifference of the international community” to many of the wars now being waged.

“For example, the war in Syria does not grab the attention it grabbed at first, and this is the biggest danger: to forget about these wars, and that theseconflicts thus get worse, and continue to create pain.”

Tags: Roman Curia, Vatican diplomacy, Cardinal Parolin