To a flattering Latin American ambassador who described papal diplomacy as "the first in the world", Cardinal Domenico Tardini, Secretary of State in the late 1950s, replied with a sarcastic "I hate to think what the second would be!" Real people usually work at the Vatican, people who like to focus attention on achievable goals, perhaps even long term. We know that the Church thinks according to very large temporal spans and what it historically tries to avoid is the risk of merely observing events, evaluating their extent, reporting what is wrong, raising "vibrated protest" and ending up representing a sort of critical voice of conscience, often outside of the choir. Having clear objectives is reassuring, supporting them with strong arguments is stimulating, but it is not enough. You must also do something, possibly with continuity. More or less this is the approach. It is difficult for it is necessary to have perseverance and a precise project designed to "break down the mechanisms of indifference that are rampant today".

"What the experts tell us is that the work of the Chancelleries is not enough, ours is also needed"

The idea is always the same. Today, putting it into practice within a reasonable time is an absolute necessity. It has been proposed again recently by an experienced negotiator, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, who dedicated a long official speech pertaining to the strategies of the diplomatic service of the Holy See. On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Agreement with Peru, the Secretary for Relations with States stressed that "the Holy See is called to act to facilitate coexistence between the various nations and to promote fraternity among peoples, where the term fraternity is synonymous with effective collaboration and cooperation that is true, harmonious and orderly, with a structured solidarity for the benefit of the common good and that of individuals”. In short, not a generic appeal to love each other, but the idea of ​​a concrete activity where everyone has their own prerogatives and available resources towards a specific goal: a serene and effective coexistence. Such phrases have been heard several times in the moments of reflection that the Foundation organizes periodically.

It was Pope Francis who paved the way by asking the Holy See "to move on the international scene not to guarantee general security, made more difficult than ever in this period of persistent instability and marked conflict, but to support an idea of ​​peace as the fruit of just relations, that is, of respect for international norms and for the protection of fundamental human rights starting with those of a low standing, the most vulnerable».

"Moving on the international scene not to guarantee general security, but to support an idea of peace as a result of respect for international standards"

Clearly, the diplomatic service of the Church moves for religious purposes and represents "the remarkable way through which the Pope may palpably reach the spiritual and material" peripheries "of humanity", as Gallagher specified. But its diplomatic action strengthens and supports those of large multinational institutions, such as the United Nations or the Council of Europe which aim for the same goal despite having different starting points and different methods.

"The idea of ​​peace represented by the Holy See does not stop at that expressed by the UN in contemporary international law. Working for peace does not only mean establishing an international security system and perhaps respecting its obligations. It is also necessary to prevent the causes that can trigger a war conflict, as well as remove those cultural, social, ethnic and religious situations that can reopen bloody wars that have just ended». In this sense, the archbishop added, international law "must continue to equip itself with legal institutions and regulatory instruments capable of managing conflicts that have ended or situations in which the efforts of diplomacy have forced arms to remain silent".

One of the most interesting passages seems to be just this. We are all concerned about how to create the conditions to stop conflict whereas less attention is perhaps paid to the measures to be put in place immediately after this goal has been achieved, to ensure that an often fragile truce turns into lasting peace. And on this point, the Secretary for Relations with States is very clear: "The post-conflict task is not limited to reorganizing the territories, recognizing new or changed sovereignties, or even guaranteeing the new equilibrium achieved with armed force. Rather, it must specify the human dimension of peace, eliminating any possible reason that could once again compromise the condition of those who have experienced the horrors of a war and now wait and hope for a different future based on justice”. It is written "human dimension of peace" but it is read as "giving priority to the force of law over the imposition of weapons, guaranteeing justice before legality".

"We need to prevent the cause of conflicts and remove those cultural and social situations that can reopen wars that have just ended"

Of course it is a long, difficult journey, we know that. But what the experts tell us is that the work of the international Chancelleries is not enough, ours is also needed. It may sound rhetorical, but if the appeal is launched by a leading representative of one of the longest-running diplomacies in history, according to some "the first", it is better to take it seriously. One of the factors that slow down the efforts towards dialogue is indeed "rampant indifference" and the archbishop reminds us that we are all "like it or not, bombarded in everyday life by a continuous wave of news and information which connect us virtually to the rest of the world and that show us multitudes of suffering, homelessness and countless victims of wars forced to emigrate. In short, we cannot pretend not to know, and even if it is not our fault, the time has come to "break the protective shell of our selfishness, thus passing from theorems on possible peace to concrete experiences of lived peace, even if suffered".

archbishop paul richard gallagher

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Holy See Secretary for Relations with States, during a speech at the United Nations

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