Cardinal Lajolo: Lecture on Papal Diplomacy

Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo
President of the Pontifical Commission and the Governorship of Vatican City State
November 7, 2008


1. Introduction
I feel honored to be able to speak today at this unique college of Saint Thomas Aquinas, of which the Santa Paula, California community as well as the Catholic Church may be justly proud on account of the high quality of its professors and its cultural contribution through philosophy and theology. I would like to express my thanks to President Thomas Dillon for the invitation to speak today. With him I have the honor to also greet the other faculty, board, staff members and students of Saint Thomas Aquinas College.

In my capacity as President of the Vatican City State, I also wish to express to you the personal and cordial greetings of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI who extends his Apostolic Blessing to all the Professors, staff, and students of Saint Thomas Aquinas College.


2. Institutional setting and current status of Vatican Diplomacy
The theme that I would like to propose forms a part of the overall picture of the reality of the Catholic Church. As a social reality, the Church is easily quantified. According to the statistics given in the latest Yearbook of Statistics in the Catholic Church, there are 1,130 (one thousand one hundred and thirty) million Catholics in the world, that is 17 point 28 percent (17.28%) of the total world population; the number of priests is 407,262 (four hundred seven thousand, two hundred sixty-two); the number of permanent deacons is 34,520 (thirty-four thousand, five hundred twenty); the number of candidates for the priesthood is 115,480 (one hundred fifteen thousand, four hundred eighty); religious women - whose role in the Church cannot be overly appreciated - amount to 753,400 (seven hundred fifty-three thousand, four hundred) ; the members of Secular Institutes come to 28,000 (twenty-eight thousand). This being said, however, I must add that the Catholic Church, in her deepest essence, is a spiritual entity that is born in faith and can ultimately be known not on the basis of statistical data, but only in the light of faith.

The diplomacy of the Holy See, on which I intend to speak, is only one aspect among many of the structure of the Church and the service of the Apostolic See within the context of the overall reality - spiritual and social - of the Church. I intend to limit my talk, however, to Vatican diplomacy in practice, as something that can be known also by those who are not well versed in specifically ecclesiological questions.1

And I should like to begin by briefly presenting the current status of the Holy See's diplomatic presence in today's international society.

There are 175 countries which maintain full diplomatic relations with the Holy See; to these must be added the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. There are, moreover, Special Missions representing the Russian Federation and the Palestine Liberation Organization, headed respectively by an Ambassador and a Director.2 There are currently 101 Pontifical Representations to States with a resident Apostolic Nuncio. It follows that, in order to cover all the countries that have diplomatic relations with the Holy See, a number of Nuncios hold more than one title.

The Representations of the Holy See to International Organizations have developed very rapidly: the first was opened in 1949; currently there are 15,3 hence a stable presence of the Holy See may be found in the most important international agencies.4

It is worth pointing out that the Holy See maintains this vast system of diplomatic relations with an extremely small staff. The total number of Apostolic Nuncios, as mentioned earlier, is about one hundred, while there are twelve Representatives to International Organizations. Junior diplomatic personnel - those who serve in the diplomatic missions of the Holy See - number 142 clerics. They come from 50 different nations. This remarkably international character of the diplomatic corps of the Holy See, while it responds to a wish expressed by the Second Vatican Council concerning the composition of the central agencies of the Church (cf. Christus Dominus, n. 10.1), also reflects the prerogative of the Church which the Council describes as a "most certain seed of unity . . . for the whole human race" (Lumen Gentium, 9.2).

The possibility of operating on such a vast scale with such limited personnel and such scarce resources is due in large measure to the active cooperation of the local Churches, who often place at the disposal of the Pontifical Representations suitably qualified priests or religious sisters from the area, who work there as members of the administrative and technical staff, and thereby support the Pontifical Representatives in the exercise of their duties.


3. Origin and Historical Evolution of Pontifical Diplomacy
It is not entirely self-evident, I would say, that the Apostolic See should maintain a presence on the international scene via a diplomatic corps of its own. Diplomacy per se is a prerogative of States, deriving directly from their being constituted as sovereign States in relation with other States. The Holy See, on the other hand, is an eminently religious entity. For this reason I should like to present a brief excursus, not so much on the history of Vatican diplomacy, as on certain historical factors that have played a significant part in its formation and evolution.

The historical development of Vatican diplomacy rests, it seems to me, on two pillars.

3a. The first pillar is indicated succinctly in the letter of Pope Gelasius I to the Emperor Anastasius (the Pope was writing in 494, at the time of the late Roman Empire): "There are two things, Your Majesty, by which this world is principally governed: the sacred authority of the Pontiffs and the power of Kings". The Letter of Pope Gelasius goes on to underline that, just as the Emperor is subject to the bishops in spiritual matters, so the latter obey the laws of the Emperor. This same principle, which has undergone significant variations in its formulation in the course of history, was taken up again by the Second Vatican Council in its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, issued on 7 December 1965: "The political community and the Church are autonomous and independent of each other in their own fields. They are both at the service of the personal and social vocation of the same individuals, though under different titles" (Gaudium et Spes, 76). This is not the place to explore the socio-juridical bases on which this statement rests; but ultimately, it seems to me, it is inspired by Christ's own words: "Render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God" (Mt 22:21).

In the course of history it is principally this "pillar" that the Popes have placed at the basis of the diplomatic activity of the Apostolic See, that is to say, first and foremost the Church's right to active and passive legation; but the content of diplomatic action has also always been referred by the Popes, directly or indirectly, to the affairs of the Church and to what must be rendered to God.

3b. Soon, however, after the rapid consolidation of the structures of the Church in the first centuries after Christ, the religious power of the Roman Pontiff and his consequent social responsibility inevitably became increasingly intertwined with the structures of civil society. This process was set in motion as a result of the dissolution of the structures of the crumbling Roman Empire, in the wake of the barbarian invasions from central Europe between the fifth and eighth centuries after Christ, and as a result of the concomitant, spontaneous recourse to the authority of the Pope and the Bishops. This occurred specifically in relation to social and political questions, inasmuch as the Pope and the Bishops constituted the sole remaining centres of recognized moral authority and social order.

The terminus a quo (the beginning) of the evolution of the temporal power of the Roman Pontiffs can be located in the gift to the "Patrimonium Sancti Petri" of the city of Sutri by the Lombard King Liutprando. We are in the year 628 at the time of Pope Gregory II. The terminus ad quem (the end) is the "debellatio" of what remained of the Papal States by a unit of the Italian army in 1870. The King of Italy was Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy and the Pope was Pius IX.

The "Breach of Porta Pia", through which Italian troops entered Rome on 20 September 1870, was the final act of this process. It marked the end of the temporal power of the Popes. As far as papal diplomacy is concerned, it is worthy of note that even after 1870, in the absence of the Pope's temporal power, new diplomatic relations were established between the Holy See and thirteen additional States.5

3c. Turning our attention now to the turbulent and painful history of the temporal power of the Popes, between these two historical terms, it is relevant to note that their diplomatic activity was dictated only in part by temporal considerations; the religious interest always remained uppermost, that is to say, the care of the spiritual issues of the Church.6 This appears, for example, from the so-called "investiture controversy" over the appointment of bishops, which culminated in the confrontation between the Emperor Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII - the famous episode at Canossa in January 1077; this dispute was eventually concluded in 1122 by the Concordat of Worms between Pope Callistus II and Emperor Henry V. Another example would be the organization of the Crusades, led by Christian sovereigns at the request of the Popes, for the liberation of Christ's Sepulchre, which in the year 636 had fallen into the hands of the Muslims (the first Crusade was in 1096 - the seventh and last in 1270). And how can we fail to mention the Congress of Münster, concluded in 1648 with the peace of Westphalia (which, incidentally, was not accepted by the Holy See). This put an end to the Thirty Years' War between Catholic and Protestant sovereigns and established the principle "Cuius regio eius et religio" (in other words, the religion of a state is to be that of the sovereign).

Another aspect that I consider worthy of note is this: the constant interface between papal diplomacy and the politics and diplomacy of States, if only from one particular standpoint, contributed to the ever increasing refinement of the Holy See's diplomatic instruments. From one particular standpoint, I say: because even when the Apostolic See was involved in political or territorial issues, neither the States concerned, nor the Holy See herself, could ever accept that she would divest herself of the inalienable features of her religious nature: for this reason the Holy See could never carry out a military policy of dominance, even less one of conquest, comparable with that of a temporal State. To be sure, looking at the entire history of the temporal power of the Popes, one can hardly fail to see it as the troubled journey of an earthenware vessel among a multitude of iron vessels, which ultimately could only end in its shattering.

3d. With the "Breach of the Porta Pia" in 1870, the Papal State was liquidated, and the "Roman question" emerged, the essence of which might be expressed as follows: What internationally valid and effective guarantees could the Pope have, as the supreme authority of the Catholic Church in the world, for his independence and freedom from political coercion of any kind? Up until 1870 efficient guarantees were given by the Papal State, the temporal power of the church as it was denominated, but this was now over. The question was resolved by the Lateran Treaty of 11 February 1929 between the Holy See and Italy. This introduced a second solid pillar of papal diplomacy: one that is not only theological but also a matter of positive international law.

The Treaty enunciates two essential principles of Vatican diplomacy.

First Principle: Recognition of the sovereignty of the Holy See: "Italy recognizes the sovereignty of the Holy See in the international arena as an inherent attribute of her nature, in conformity with her tradition and with the demands of her mission in the world" (as worded in Article 2).

Second Principle: The recognition of the "exclusive and absolute power and sovereign jurisdiction over the Vatican as presently constituted" (Article 3), and this "so as to ensure the Holy See's absolute and visible independence and to guarantee her unquestionable sovereignty in the international arena as well" (as worded in the Preamble).

With regard to the first principle, two aspects should be carefully considered. The sovereignty of the Holy See is recognized:

a) as an inherent attribute of her nature: and the nature of the Holy See is that of being the supreme organ of the Catholic Church;
b) in conformity with her tradition - I have just indicated certain features of this - and with the demands of her mission in the world: namely that of leading the Church as such and the task of Evangelization.

This first principle is a sufficient motive for many States to enter into diplomatic relations with the Holy See; they recognize her international importance, supported by her historical role in the old and in the modern world, without thereby expressing judgments of a theological nature. It is worth noting that in 1984 a suit was filed in Federal Court against the decision of President Reagan to have an embassy to the Holy See. The court dismissed the case adding that the plaintiffs arguments were based on the presumption that the Holy See is not a sovereign entity but simply a religious organization. Other States, however, prefer to make exclusive reference to the territorial reality of Vatican City State, which corresponds to their own nature; Vatican City is internationally recognized as a State visibly independent from any other, a State which as such guarantees the Holy See inalienable sovereignty in the international arena. The motivation for the attitude of these other States can vary; for some it might be the States' religion which prevents them from recognizing the specifically religious aspect of the Holy See (I am thinking especially of Islamic States), but for others it might be their pronounced secular character, which does not recognize any active role for religions on the international stage.

All this notwithstanding, the motivation of different States is not something in which the Holy See should interfere; it remains clear nevertheless that they all wish to establish diplomatic relations with the Holy See not because of the international significance of Vatican City State - which although not negligible, is very small - but rather because of the importance of the Apostolic See, if not among their own population, then certainly on the international stage.


4. The Structures of the Vatican
As I have repeatedly spoken of the Holy See and of Vatican City State, I think the moment has come to clarify these concepts somewhat; the "Vatican" is a complex, but not incoherent entity, and it has a clear structure, as appears from the Code of Canon Law, from the Apostolic Constitution "De Romana Curia", Pastor Bonus, of 28 June 1988, and, I would say almost visually, from the Annuario Pontificio.

First and foremost, there is a single apex, namely the Pope, upon whom both the Holy or Apostolic See and Vatican City State are dependent.

4a. The terms Holy See or Apostolic See designate, apart from the Pope himself, all the organs of government, broadly understood, and all the tribunals of the Universal Church which go under the overall name of Roman Curia (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 361). The term "See" refers to the "Chair of Peter": that is, to the symbol of the teaching and governing authority of the first of the Apostles, Simon Peter, whose successor the Pope is: hence it is qualified as Apostolic or Holy.

Chief among the various ministries (designated, according to their nature, either as Congregations or Councils) that the Pope makes use of in order to lead the Church, is the Secretariat of State. This is divided into two Sections:

  • the First, for General Affairs, is concerned mainly with internal matters of the Church;
  • the Second, for Relations with States, is recognized in international protocol as the Foreign Ministry. This has the task of dealing with heads of state and of governments, of fostering relations with States, especially those of a diplomatic nature and other subjects of public international law, and of dealing with matters of common interest; it promotes the good of the Church and of civil society by means of Concordats and Agreements; it oversees the activity of the Holy See with the international organizations.

The Ambassadors to the Holy See have as their direct interlocutor the Secretariat of State, Second Section. Also answerable to the Secretariat are the Pope's ambassadors, designated "Apostolic Nuncios", a term which emphasizes their specifically ecclesial function.

4b. The term Vatican City State, on the other hand, refers to that tiny State located on the Vatican Hill, governed by the Pope via the Governatorato (or governorship) which is directed by the President. The Vatican City State, established by the provisions of the Lateran Treaty of February 11, 1924, is ruled by its own Fundamental Law of November 26, 2000, and by a State Governmental Law of July 16, 2002, and by other laws specific to the State. It has distinct legislative, judicial and governing bodies. The function of the Governatorato is structured into seven central offices, three auxiliary agencies and nine direzioni (these are like small ministries)7 . There is also a scientific organ: the Vatican Observatory run by the Jesuits, with its center in Castel Gandolfo outside Rome, and its main scientific activity in the observatory in Tucson, Arizona.

The Vatican City State, like the Holy See, is a sovereign subject of international law. But Article 2 of the Fundamental Law of the State declares: "The representation of the State in relations with foreign states and with other subjects of international law, for diplomatic relations and for the conclusion of treaties, is reserved to the Supreme Pontiff, who exercises it by means of the Secretariat of State. And the Secretariat of State, Section for Relations with States, when it concludes agreements in the name of the State and not of the Holy See, specifies that it is "acting on behalf and in the interest of the State of Vatican City". It would be surprising, in fact, if the Pope had two diplomatic corps, one for the Church and a different one for the few international affairs relative to the Vatican State.

It is interesting to note that in the Listing of Country Names published annually by the United Nations, a note is added to the Holy See entry, stating that in United Nations Documents, the term "Holy See" is to be used, except in texts concerning the international Telecommunications Union and the Universal Postal Union, where the term "Vatican City State" is to be used.


5. The fields of action of Vatican diplomacy
I trust that what I have explained thus far helps to shed light on the subject of Vatican diplomacy: the action is the expression of the acting subject.

If the subject of Vatican diplomacy is the Holy See, it is easy first of all to recognize those fields from which her diplomatic activity is absent, while being of primary importance for States: namely commercial relations, economic and financial questions, military forces, border disputes, and also the issues treated by Consulates (the Holy See does not have Consulates). Such questions lie outside the specific interest of the Holy See, unless they have repercussions on other issues, such as peace, or unless the States by mutual agreement request the Holy See's intervention. This happened, for example, in 1885 (after the suppression of the Papal States) under Leo XIII, when Germany and Spain asked the Pope to arbitrate in their conflict over the Caroline Islands, and they accepted his decision. More recently, in 1978, Argentina and Chile sought the mediation of the Holy See in their dispute over the Beagle Channel (the navies of the two States were prepared to engage in hostilities) and they were thus able to reach a peaceable agreement. Although these were temporal issues, the Holy See accepted the difficult role of mediation, because peace was in jeopardy, and moreover, between two States with predominantly Christian populations.

The interest and diplomatic action of the Holy See are present principally in the following areas:

a) Peace. The message of peace belongs to the heart of the Gospel message and is also one of Our Lord's beatitudes: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Mt 5:9). Christ, as Saint Paul says, came to announce peace to those who are near and to those who are far away (cf. Eph 2:17). Peace is not just a general condition of non-belligerence, of cohabitation and non-interference in the internal affairs of other States; it is a great political edifice which, as Popes have emphasized in innumerable statements, rests on the pillars of truth, justice, freedom and solidarity. Peace is a great but fragile edifice, and it requires constant care and attention. In each of the Pope's annual messages for the World Day of Peace on 1 January, vital aspects for the protection of peace are indicated; simply by perusing the list of topics chosen as titles for the individual World Peace Day messages from 1968 until today, one can grasp more specifically the areas in which the Holy See's diplomatic activity is conducted.8 Next year's message will be entitled "Combat poverty - Construct peace".

In this context I cannot fail to mention the determined support that the Holy See gives to the United Nations Organization as a universal institution, all its evident limits notwithstanding. Precisely because of its universality in drawing together States with different cultures and politics, all the problems related to the great problem of peace can and must find in the United Nations the natural forum for a peaceful debate and a constructive dialogue. There, in the vision of the Popes - mankind should have its supra-national body, as a "family of nations". Is it utopia? We think it is a need.

b) Freedom. The most important end of human life is knowledge of the truth, and the truth can be known only through a free search and a free adherence. Among civil liberties, the Holy See holds that religious freedom is fundamental. It concerns the most important relationship that man has: his relationship with God. By its nature, religious freedom is expressed not only at a private level, but also socially, and not only at the level of individuals, but also collectively. Understandably, the Holy See's diplomatic activity is directed above all towards the protection and promotion of the freedom of the Catholic faithful and the institutions of the Church; but she also recognizes her duty to promote the freedom of all people, without, however, claiming any right of interference in the rights of the faithful of other confessions.

A typical instrument in the service of the Church's freedom is the drafting of Concordats or concordat-like agreements, which the Holy See has concluded and continues to conclude with some States: they are treaties of international law that regulate matters of common interest for the State and the Church in such a way that the local Church can carry out her mission without impediment, in secure and serene collaboration with civil authorities.9

The most recent is the agreement with Bosnia-Herzegovina on April 19, 2006.

c) The fundamental rights of man. "Human rights"-the fundamental ones- are neither linked to particular situations nor subordinated to determined conditions, but they are demands inherent in the human person as such. They have been codified at international level in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization on December 10, 1948. In their understanding, formulation and application, these rights can undergo variations with regard to times and cultural settings, but substantially they cannot be subject to limitations, since they are inherent to the human person.

The Holy See has viewed positively the institution in 2006 of the Commission for Human Rights based at the UN in Geneva; but she has made no secret of her concern at the presence on the commission of representatives of various Governments responsible for flagrant violations of human rights, which could prejudice the results of the commission's work.10

It should come as no surprise that the "human person" as such is at the centre of the Holy See's attention, both because according to the Christian faith, man and woman were created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26-27), and also because of the universal character of the Catholic Church, that does not wish to be foreign for any people, just as no people is foreign to her.

The human person is the principle of all the Holy See's interests in relation to society - "Man is the way of the Church", said John Paul II - and it is on this principle that we must base both the demand for freedom and the commitment to peace of which I have spoken. Significantly, Benedict XVI entitled the theme for the World Day of Peace in 2006: "The human person, the heart of peace". In the respect due to the human person as such are implicit all fundamental human rights, beginning with the right to life from the first moment of conception until natural death, the right to food and education, the right to equality before the law, the right of women not to suffer discrimination with respect to men, etc. Because of the pre-eminence of the right to life and the right to freedom, the Holy See is in favor of a development in international positive law to consider licit and necessary a "humanitarian intervention" by the International Community, using all suitable means, in the internal sphere of a State when the population is subjected by an inhuman regime to intolerable life conditions.


6. Some of today's great challenges
It remains only for me to indicate the greatest challenges facing Vatican diplomacy today,

A. and I begin in the area of multilateral diplomacy, which in today's world has a primary role. I shall limit myself to say a few words about some elements which are essential for peace: disarmament and development; cultural dialogue; migrations.

- The first step towards peace is laying down arms. For this reason the Holy See has actively supported several treaties by undersigning and ratifying them, or by adhering to them. Although, this may have more of a symbolic value, it has always been greatly appreciated and earnestly sought by States precisely because of its clear moral message.11

As a cause of disappointment for the Holy See I should like to mention the lamentable stalling of the implementation of the commitments of the "Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty", and the generally lukewarm approach to the matter of this disarmament, beginning with control of the production of conventional weapons. The amount spent every year on weapons throughout the world is ten times greater than the amount destined for development. The human cost of this waste is enormous: between 1990 and 2003 the lives of 3,820,000 people were lost through acts of war; 93% of these were civilians, of whom 50% were children (cf. La Civiltà Cattolica, April 2007: 158, 3764). Unfortunately, I am not able to give updated figures for more recent years, but they can only be worse and this increases our deep concern.

- True peace, as I have said, demands more than the laying down of weapons. The new name for peace - according to a celebrated definition of Paul VI - is development (Populorum Progressio, no. 87). The diplomacy of the Holy See is committed to support development via a whole network of interventions, so as to highlight the most urgent needs, to meet them through those aids which the Holy See herself is capable of supplying, and also to bring them to the attention of Catholic organizations and international entities. Such action is very discreet, but no less effective for that. Papal diplomacy acts here as an arm of the Ecclesia Mater (the Mother Church), as an instrument of the "Pope's charity". The Holy See gives its support to the vast program of the United Nations called "Development Millennium Goals" established at the General Assembly in New York on October 2000; the goals should be reached by 2015. As you perhaps know, there are eight main goals with several more specific targets to be realized by 2015 (Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Achieve universal primary education. Promote gender equality and empower women. Reduce child mortality. Improve maternal health. Combat HIV/AIDs, malaria and other diseases. Ensure environmental sustainability. Develop a global partnership for development). Unfortunately, the delay in the implementation of these eight main goals is making them unattainable by the deadline of 2015. The Holy see and the Catholic Church are committed in their support of these goals with but one great reluctance. In reality, under the guise of reproductive health, some U.N. agencies and other well organized lobbies attempt to aggressively introduce abortion practices as a suitable instrument to reach the goals. This for the Church is unacceptable: as declared in the Second Vatican Council that abortion is an abominable crime. (Gaudium et Spes, n.51)

- Dialogue of Cultures. In 1996 there came out the famous book by Professor Samuel Huntington The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. It was an alarm signal, which did not remain unheeded, about the danger deriving for peace from a violent clash of cultures. In this regard it is sufficient for me to mention that back in the 1960s, after the Second Vatican Council, the Holy See opened two institutions to stimulate dialogue at official level and in academic institutions: the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity and the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, the latter now united, in the person of the President, with the Pontifical Council for Culture. In addition to these there are the Pontifical Academy for Sciences, the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences and the Pontifical Academy for Life, the members of which are famous scholars and intellectuals from different nations and religions.

More specifically, Vatican diplomacy is present at UNESCO with its own Permanent Observer and there is no program, statement or international cultural convention of some importance in which it is not present.12

- Emigrations - A phenomenon that has always been a part of human history is that of migrations. Today, in a social context in which we see, on the one hand, an increase in the levels of poverty and of oppressive political regimes in many parts of the world, and at the same time increasing wealth and affluence in other regions, the phenomenon of migration has reappeared with a force that can no longer be contained. Grave problems arise in balancing the rights of the person of migrants, especially women, against the demands of public order of States. In the context of migrations, particular problems have arisen concerning the right to practise one's own religion and the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their own religious convictions.

In this sector, so full of human tragedies, the Catholic Church seeks to be present with her own aid institutions to alleviate the most urgent needs, to favour social integration and safeguard cultural identity.13

Still in connection with the phenomenon of migrations, one demand that presents itself acutely is that of reciprocity: while immigrants to countries with a Christian majority enjoy full freedom and are not subjected to discrimination, there is no reciprocity of treatment for Christians in the corresponding countries of origin with a non-Christian majority.14

B. Passing now to bilateral relations, I cannot fail to mention some of the files that most frequently arrive on the desk of the Secretary for Relations with States, the Holy See's Minister for Foreign Affairs.

- Priority concerns in the Middle East remain Lebanon, the Holy Land and Iraq. These are countries that need assistance from other States, not interference, which would merely complicate further a situation that is already highly complex. In all these countries a source of great sadness for the Catholic Church and for the Holy See is the exodus of Christians, which is certainly not entirely voluntary. This phenomenon is so the more painful because the presence of the Christian population in the region is a seed for peace, also for other populations.

- Asia. As far as the Holy See is specifically concerned, there are countries of peculiar concern because of the conditions placed upon religious freedom. As is well known, this applies to China and North Korea, but also to all the countries and all the regions with an Islamic majority or with other traditional religions where the presence or expansion of a different religion, even in forms that are far removed from proselytising, is scarcely tolerated. The list of names would not be short. A country of particular concern has become India; the persecution of Christians and Christian institutions in some Indian states - like Orissa, Karnakaka, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarn - has become virulent.

- Latin America. The grave delay in implementing much-needed social reforms has led to the emergence of some regimes with Marxist tendencies. Of particular concern is the development in Venezuela if not yet of a dictatorship certainly of an authoritarian regime characterized by a Marxist ideology that is becoming increasingly accentuated.

- Africa: The tragedy of Darfur for years, still remains one of the most urgent humanitarian challenges today. On this matter, the diplomacy of the Holy See did not fail to alert various Western governments from the very beginnings of its manifestation. To the tragedy of Darfur is now added the political and military anarchy of Somalia and the armed conflict raging in the North Kivu region of Congo with hundreds of thousands displaced persons. In various other States, which would be too many to enumerate, the political situation remains precarious. In some cases they have passed from the status of developing countries to the conditions of highly impoverished countries. The causes are various: among others, the conditions of international trade, but also of blatant corruption and local misgovernment. Some socio-political priorities have been indicated in a letter from Pope Benedict XVI to German Chancellor Angela Merkel of 16 December 2006, at the beginning of the presidency of the European Union on the part of the German Government. These include: conditions for international commerce, the foreign debt of the poorest countries, the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, the reduction of trade in armaments, the fight against illegal trafficking of resources and money laundering.15

- Europe: Here it is not religious freedom that is the problem, but the dissolution of moral values, connected with forgetfulness of cultural roots, especially Christian roots.


7. It is now time to conclude.
The diplomacy of the Holy See is dealing with problems affecting the Church in every part of the world: she has very limited material and personal resources, but to compensate she can count not only on the internal forces of the Catholic Church, but also on the sympathy and on the assistance of many friends outside the Church, with whom she is in constant dialogue to help to resolve, or at least to alleviate the problems that afflict modern man.

In the context of all I've elaborated here about relations between the Holy See and world nations, I would like to recall that official diplomatic ties between the Vatican and the United States, formalized in 1984. These ties facilitated Pope John Paul II's attempt - at a very high level - to dissuade the United States government from the intervention in Iraq, in the interest of averting ruinous consequences not only to the region but to United States as well. The failure of the diplomatic steps of the Holy See notwithstanding, Benedict XVI had these encouraging words to say in welcoming the new U.S. Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, to the Vatican last February:

"From the dawn of the Republic, America has been…a nation which values the role of religious belief in ensuring a vibrant and ethically sound democratic order. Your nation's example of uniting people of good will, regardless of race, nationality or creed, in a shared vision and a disciplined pursuit of the common good has encouraged many younger nations in their efforts to create a harmonious, free and just social order…Today this task of reconciling unity and diversity …has become an urgent priority…16

May the friendship between the United States and the Holy See contribute to render the common journey, in the world of today and of tomorrow, ever more secure and fruitful for the human person and for all humanity.

Thank you.


1. The theological sense of the Pontifical Representations is outlined in the Apostolic Constitution of Paul VI "Sollicitudo omnium Ecclesiarum" of June 24, 1969.

2. It is interesting to note the increase in the number of Apostolic Nunciatures in the last quarter of the 20th century. Under the pontificates of Paul VI and John Paul II - that is from 1963 to 2005 - the number of states with diplomatic relations with the Holy See went from 46 to 174. Specifically, in 1978, at the death of Paul VI, the Apostolic Nunciatures and Delegations in Africa constituted less that half of the total number of Pontifical Representations in the entire world, and that continent had a relatively major number of Representatives of the Holy See (43 out of 117). During the pontificate of John Paul II there was a significant expansion in the network of Apostolic Nunciatures and Delegations in all the continents. The largest increase was in Europe (from 18 to 45 Representations) after 1989 due to the dissolving of the former Soviet Union and its effects on various countries of central eastern Europe and Central Asia. Also during John Paul II's pontificate, the number of Pontifical Representations doubled in Asia (from 19 to 38), with significant increases also in the Americas (from 24 to 36), in Oceania (from 5 to 15) and in Africa (from 43 to 53). An Apostolic Delegation is a Papal Representation to the Church in a state, without diplomatic status.

3. This began in 1949 with the accreditation of a Permanent Observer to the FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations headquartered in Rome, to which the Holy See subsequently nominated a representative also to the World Food Program (PAM) in 1963 and to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in 1977. In 1952, also with Observer status, the Holy See's representative was accredited to UNESCO in Paris. In 1957 the Holy See became a founding member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (AIEA) headquartered in Vienna with an accredited Permanent Delegate, who today is Permanent Representative. Under the pontificate of Paul VI the Holy See increased its presence among the inter-governmental international organizations, nominating a Permanent Observer to the following seats: in 1964 to the United Nations in New York; in 1967 to the U.N. Office and the specialized institutions in Geneva; in 1971 to the U.N. Organization for Industrial Development (ONUDI) in Vienna. As noted, in 2004 the Holy See formalized its Statute of Permanent Observer to the U.N.General Assembly (Resolution 58/314 of July 1, 2004). The same attention continued under the pontificate of John Paul II.

4. The Holy See is member to six other international Organizations, and with yet another six it maintains a form of Observer status on an "informal basis". For regionally based international intergovernmental organisms, in 1970 the Holy See designated a special envoy to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, even though relations with the Council date back to 1962; in 1978 a Permanent Observer was designated to the Organization of American States. In 1994 a Permanent Representative was sent to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OCSE) born of the same Conference of which it was member since 1973. In the year 2000 a Delegate of the Holy See was designated to the League of Arab States; negotiations are in progress to clarify its status and functions. In the same year a Cooperation Agreement was concluded with the Organization of African Unity: negotiations are under way to further define the succession in the relations with the African Union. A special position is afforded to the pontifical Representative to the European Union in Brussels (different from the Apostolic Nuncio in Belgium), that has the title of Apostolic Nuncio not only ad personam (like some Permanent Observers), but bound with an office.

5. 1877: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay and Uruguay; 1881: Haiti, Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

6. Pierre Blet, Histoire de la Représentation Diplomatique du Saint Siège des origins à l'aube du XIXe siècle, Vatican City 1982, pp.xx, 530 (second edition 1990, pp. XIX, 573)

7. These central offices are: Legal Office, Personnel Office, Office of Records, Civilian Registry and Notary, the Philatelic and Numismatic Office, Informatics Systems Office, State Archives, Pilgrim and Tourist Office. Auxiliary organisms are the Committee for Security, Commission for Personnel, and the Disciplinary Commission. The Directorates (Departments) are: the Directorate of State Accountancy, Directorate of General Services, Directorate of Security and Civil Protection, Directorate of Health and Hygiene, Directorate of Museums, Directorate of Technical Services (Corps of Engineers), Directorate of Telecommunications, Directorate of Economic Services, Directorate of the Pontifical Villas. Also under the Governatorato's authority is the Astronomical Observatory with its seat in Castel Gandolfo, and its main operative center in Tucson, Arizona (USA).

8. From 1968 to today the themes for the World Peace Day have been the following: 1968, January 1: World Peace Day. 1969 - Promoting the rights of mankind: the road toward peace. 1970 - Learning peace through reconciliation. 1971 - Every man is my brother. 1972 - If you want peace, work for justice. 1973 - Peace is possible. 1974 - Peace also depends on you. 1975- Reconciliation is the way to peace. 1976 - The real arms for peace. 1977 - If you want peace, defend life. 1978 - No to violence, yes to peace. 1979 - To gain peace, teach peace. 1980 - Truth as the force of peace. 1981 - To serve peace, respect liberty. 1982 - Peace is God's gift entrusted to man. 1983 - Dialogue for peace, the challenge of our time. 1984 - Peace is born of a new heart. 1985 - Peace and youth walk together. 1986 - Peace is a resource without borders. North-South, East-West: one single peace. 1987 - Development and solidarity: keys to peace. 1988 - Religious freedom: a condition for peaceful coexistence. 1989 - To build peace, respect minorities. 1990 - Peace with God the creator, peace with all the created. 1991 - If you want peace, respect man's conscious. 1992 - the faithful united to construct peace. 1993 - If you are searching for peace, look toward the poor. 1994 - Peace of the world's family is born inside the family. 1995 - Woman, educator of peace. 1996 -Give children a future of peace. 1997 - Forgive and you will receive peace. 1998 -Justice for one sparks peace for all. 1999 - Respect for human rights is the secret to true peace. 2000 - "Peace on earth to whom God loves." 2001 - Dialogue between peoples for a civilization of love and peace. 2002 - There is no peace without justice, there is no justice without peace. 2003 - "Pacim in terris": a permanent commitment. 2004 - An on-going task: educate for peace. 2005 - Don't be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 2006 - In truth is peace. 2007 - The human person, core of peace.

9. I wanted to offer an update on the important subject of the Concordats in my lecture at the Pontifical Gregorian University on November 15, 2005, entitled La diplomazia concordataria della Santa Sede nel XX secolo: tipologia dei concordati.

10. On this subject I made a statement as Secretary for the Relations with States at the Inaugural Session of the Conseil del Droits de l'Homme in Geneva on June 20, 2006, a statement which was noted as not ambiguous.

11. To convey its moral support the Holy See adhered to these Treaties: Non proliferation of nuclear arms (1968; Holy See adhered in 1971); global ban on nuclear testing (1996; Holy See adhered in 2001); for the ban, development, production and stock-piling of biological weapons (1972; Holy See adhered in 2001); for the prohibition, production, stock-piling and distribution of land mines (1997; ratified by the Holy See on Feb. 17, 1998); for the prohibition or restrictive use of conventional arms designed for excessive destruction or with indiscriminative effects. (1981; ratified by the Holy See in 1997). The ratification of the first two Treaties is presently stalled due to the contrasting assessments on the part of the nuclear powers regarding the relation between disarmament and security.

12. In the field of education the Holy See supports programs against illiteracy and is in favor of parental rights on the choice of education for their children. Furthermore, it is also part of the five Conventions of UNESCO concerning the validity of studies, diplomas, degrees, titles and certificates of higher education. In the field of science an active role was played in drafting the three Declarations on the human genome and the rights of man (1997), on human genetic data (2003), and on bioethics and the rights of man (2005). Furthermore, the Permanent Observer actively partakes in the related committees: International Committee on Bioethics (CIB), Intergovernmental Committee on Bioethics (CIGB), World Commission on Ethics, Science and Technology (COMEST), In the field of culture the Holy See adheres to the UNESCO Convention for the protection of cultural legacy in the case of armed conflict (1954), and for the protection of world cultural and natural heritage (1972).

Other cultural international organizations include: the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the International Council of Museums (ICOM), International Center for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage Studies (ICCROM), International Committee of Art History (CIHA), International Council of Archives (ICA), International Federation of Associated Librarians and Libraries (IFLA). With the participation of the Section of Relations with States of the Secretariat of State, the Holy See collaborates with these and other organizations in various ways.

13. Besides the Pontifical Council for Migrant and Itinerant Peoples, in this field are active the Commission for immigration problems of the Catholic Bishop's Conferences in different countries and the corresponding committees by the international Caritas as well as by the national Caritas organization.

14. The subject of the 27th Plenary Session of the Pontifical Council of Migrant and Itinerant Peoples was entitled "Migration and itinerancy from and to countries with Moslem majorities", held in Vatican City from May 15 to17, 2006. The Acts are published in the Periodical of the Pontifical Council "People on the Move", XXXVIII, August 2006; in my lecture, pgs. 351-369.

15. The texts of the letters between Pope Benedict XIV and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel are published in the L'Osservatore Romano newspaper, 23-24 April 2007. Among the subjects mentioned by Pope: the conditions for international commerce, the foreign debt of the poorest countries, the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, the reduction of trade in armaments, the fight against illegal trafficking of resources and money laundering.

16. cfr. Pope Benedict XVI: address given in Vatican City on 29 February 2008 for the presentation of the credentials of the Ambassador of the United States of America to the Holy See, Mary Ann Glendon.

Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo
Adrienne Grimm (’14)

“We don’t come here for four years merely to learn a bunch of facts, but to learn how to think more clearly, which is an education for a lifetime.”

– Adrienne Grimm (’14)

San Dimas, Calif.