Apostolski nuncij u RH nadbiskup Giorgio Lingua
Presentation “The juridical personality of the Holy See and its activity in the international community” of Apostolic Nuncio in Croatia msgr. Giorgio Lingua on The day of Croatian diplomacy. Zagreb, June 10, 2021
I – The juridical personality of the Holy See
Since 1st June last, the Holy See is, to all intents and purposes, a non-member State of the World Health Organization, thanks to the action of the Italian government, which presented a resolution for this purpose during the 74th WHO Assembly.
71 members of the United Nations, that is more than 30% including, of course, Croatia, but also some states with which the Holy See has no diplomatic relations, such as China and Saudi Arabia, supported this resolution.
It is a new page of the long presence of the Holy See in the international community. The admission is a recognition of the widespread work of the Catholic Church in all latitudes and longitudes of the planet in the health field with its network of over 110,000 health institutions.
Undoubtedly, the active and responsible role of the Pope Francis in the fight against Covid 19 was also important.
If this is the most recent testimony of the recognition of the Holy See’s international juridical personality, the question has given rise to numerous debates and disagreements among jurists.
I do not pretend to give a definitive, resolutive answer to this complex matter, I will just try to present the question.
Speaking to diplomats, I do not waste time on terminological issues.
You all know what is meant by international juridical personality, who are the subjects of international law and what their obligations are within the international community.
In international law, norms often originate from behaviors that are constantly repeated over time (customary) and accepted by the international community.
All subjects have equal value, that is, equal juridical weight, the vote of Vanuatu or San Marino counts as that of the United States of America or Russia.
The sources of international law
In international law, the authors of the law are the subjects themselves, who agree either in bilateral pacts or in multilateral conventions to which new subjects can be added, from time to time, who adhere subsequently by signing, or ratifying, the established agreements.
Another source of law is the aforementioned customary law: “it has always been done like this” in international law it has the force of law.
More recently there is often recourse to the use of resolutions issued by international organizations that define rights and obligations valid for the states that freely adhere to them.
Finally, real international conferences on the codification of law are sometimes convened.
One more word on the subjects of international law
Originally, international juridical personality, that is the ability to be recipients of international norms, was reserved to States, which are still the primary international subject and which acquire international juridical personality for the sole fact of their existence, as sovereign and independent entities, at the time of their recognition.
Nevertheless, this personality is also attributed to some non-state movements and organizations which, however, generally claim a state, based on the principle of self-determination of peoples (such as national liberation movements or governments in exile or insurgents).
Also Institutionalized unions of states, such as international organizations, which are distinct from member states (like UN, OAS, EU, AU, etc.) have international juridical personality.
There are, finally, “other subjects of international law” who have the ability to conclude international treaties, such as the Holy See, the Order of Malta and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Today no one doubts the international juridical personality of the Holy See and this not only for its territorial sovereignty, which it also possesses, over a symbolic piece of land such as the Vatican City.
However, we must admit the difficulty in moving in the ‘labyrinth’ of opinions on the subject which have induced and still induce scholars to the most diverse formulations. Also because, international subjectivity occurs through mutual “recognition”. Someone, therefore, can recognize a State, or another subject, and others not, as, for example, in the case of Kosovo.
The sui generis position of the Holy See.
As a young student of international law, I tried to understand better, without succeeding completely, how the “international juridical position of the Holy See” is considered by the international community. To this end, I took into consideration, in particular, those conferences which have been convened to regulate certain aspects of international life and in which the Holy See has actively participated, namely the conferences on the codification of diplomatic relations (1961), of the consular relations (1963) and relations between states and international organizations (1975).
The point was this: in which capacity was the Holy See invited to such meetings?
Formally it was invited as Vatican City State, in reality no one can say that it was only because it was the governing body of that small country!
For many members participating in the Conferences of Codification of Diplomatic Law, the existence of the Vatican City State was undoubtedly the reason why the Holy See was admitted in the international community, but for most of the States, and for the Holy See in particular, this was by no means the reason or, at least, the main reason.
Just think to the question of the precedence granted to the Apostolic Nuncio in the diplomatic corps: on the basis of what reason could this right have been granted to the Head of Vatican City State?
To better understand the question, let me present an historical excursus.
A historical excursus.
From the origins of the Church and well before the birth of its temporal power, that is, of a territorial state, the Pope sent his representatives to maintain constant contact with the different ecclesiastical realities geographically distant from Rome. The aim was to maintain Christian unity under the spiritual sovereignty and primacy of the Holy See.
During the fourth century, the functions of representation of the Pope were entrusted to the so-called Apostolic Vicars, residential bishops to whom the Roman Pontiff gave special powers over other bishops and who represented him in a specific territory.
In the fifth century, as the Emperor did in the political field, the Pope also began to send representatives, who were generally deacons, whose task was to watch over the integrity of the faith in the provinces of the Eastern Empire and to inform the pontiff about it.
In the early Middle Ages, the loss of imperial authority determined a void in the West that was filled by the Catholic Church and the Bishop of Rome also became sovereign of a temporal power over some territories and the role of his representatives evolved even if their diplomat status maintained a strictly religious function.
Starting from the eighth century (752), with the birth of a papal territorial state, starts the distinction between temporal power and spiritual power in the hands of the Pope. The Bishop of Rome who previously led the Christian community only in matters of faith (salvation of the soul, man’s relationship with God, the interpretation of the Scriptures, moral principles), now also assumes a power in earthly matters, of political administration, territorial government, juridical legislation.
Towards the end of the ninth century, the Holy See began to send representatives directly from Rome to the various emerging nations in Europe. They will be called legati missi (sing. legatus missus), which could have a temporary or a permanent duration, according to the needs of their mission.
Meanwhile, with the growing temporal power of the Church after the formation of a papal territorial state, politics necessarily becomes one of the pope’s concerns.
Evidence of the growing prestige and political authority of the papacy in this period, as well as of the need to secure “friends” is also the diplomatic recognition of the Duchy of Croatia granted by Pope John VIII to Duke Branimir on 7 June 879. This day is marked today as the Croatian Diplomacy Day.
As for any state worthy of this name, not only politics but also the economy is important. Thus, for the administration of the territories, nuntii et collectores will also be sent from Rome, entrusted with the collection of tithes and other ecclesiastical taxes in the various Catholic kingdoms.
With the consolidation of European countries and the progressive birth of nations, the Holy See will deem good to reorganize the system of diplomatic representation, bringing together in a single person the religious, political and economic functions of the papal representatives, and little by little the institute of the nunciature is defined.
The first permanent missions
During the gradual modernization of society and political institutions, which marked the transition from the medieval era to the modern era, there is a need to undertake more stable diplomatic relations. The Holy See is among the first to realize it. The first nunciatures are created to ensure a more active presence of the Papacy in European diplomatic affairs.
The Roman pontiff will transform his representatives into real diplomats with full negotiating powers.
The official beginning of the permanent nunciatures dates back to 1500, the year in which the Pope will accredit a permanent representative to the Republic of Venice. Likewise, the Republic of Venice will send a permanent ambassador to Rome, who will reside in what is still known today as Palazzo Venezia, in Piazza Venezia.
Immediately afterwards, an exchange of nuncio-ambassador will take place with the Kingdom of Spain. The Spanish ambassador will take up as his residence what is still today the Spanish embassy to the Holy See, in Piazza di Spagna. Later the Nunciatures in France and Vienna were opened.
In short, the first permanent embassies in the modern sense are those opened by the Holy See and at the Holy See.
Already with the pontificate of Leo X (1513-1521) we are witnessing a gradual increase in papal nunciatures.
Following the division of the Church in the West, with the Lutheran reform, which constitutes one of the periods of greatest difficulty and crisis for the Church, and with the shift of some heads of state to the Protestantism, the papal representatives will return to deal mainly with the spiritual interests of the Church.
However, the need to coordinate Rome’s activities and interests with those of the other powers that remained Catholic presupposed constant contacts that could only be ensured by stable diplomacy.
Furthermore, an internal reform of the Catholic Church, after the Council of Trent, leads to a rethinking of the role of the pope, who gradually ceases to be an Italian sovereign equal to all the others, to become once again the spiritual guide of the universal Church.
From the Treaty of Westphalia to the Congress of Vienna
The brilliant period of papal diplomacy at the beginning of the seventeenth century, however, immediately began to manifest a crisis after the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), which ended the so-called Thirty Years’ War, which began in 1618, and the Eighty Years’ War, between Spain and the United Provinces.
With the Treaty of Westphalia, a new international order was inaugurated, a system in which the states recognize each other precisely and only as states, beyond the faith of the various sovereigns.
It is the beginning of the secular state and an international community is born, similar to the one we have today, which is based on the concept of citizenship and no longer on religious or confessional affiliation.
The new international order marked the definitive decline in the incidence of religious factors in European politics and forced papal diplomacy to accept the canons of “classical” European diplomacy, assimilating methods, forms and practices and gradually losing its prestige, decaying until the Napoleonic era.
It will be during the Congress of Vienna, that is, after the fall of Napoleon, that the diplomacy of the Holy See will recover the lost prestige, regaining an important position in international politics.
The contemporary era
Thus, we arrive at the interesting development of the contemporary era in which we can clearly distinguish three stages that allow us to enter the complexity of the juridical position of the Holy See and better grasp its originality:
– from the Congress of Vienna until 1870, that is, until the loss of the Papal State
– from 1870 to 1929, that is, until the signing of the Lateran Pacts
– from 1929 to today.
From the Congress of Vienna until 1870
Regarding our question, from the Congress of Vienna until 1870, while the Pope is also the head of a territorial Papal State, no one doubts the right of the Holy See to participate fully in the life of the international community, with relative recognition of its international juridical personality.
Even if, with the Congress of Vienna, the Holy See is already recognized a very particular position in comparison to other subjects of international law – so much so that the right of precedence is attributed to the Pope’s representative -, everyone knows that the Holy See too is a state with full law and form.
It is also true that the Supreme Pontiff, together with a political function, also and above all exercises a spiritual mission, but it is not too difficult to distinguish the two missions and to know when the Pope acts as head of the Catholic Church or as sovereign of the papal state.
In this period, therefore, the international subjectivity of the Holy See is not a problem, since this is guaranteed by the Papal State, whose monarch is the Supreme Pontiff.
Nobody can deny the Pope’s right to participate in various international congresses and, specifically, to conclude treaties and to maintain the right of active and passive legation.
Between 1870 and 1929.
After September 20, 1870, when the troops of General Cadorna entered Rome through the breach of Porta Pia and put an end to the Papal State, the Holy See found itself without that territory which guaranteed it, without objection, a presence in the international law.
From that date, the theories about the international juridical position of the Holy See take three main positions:
– on the one hand, some argue that, with the loss of the Papal State by debellatio, that is, by conquest of war, the Holy See also loses its international juridical personality and the Pope, while remaining head of the Catholic Church, no longer being the head of a State, can therefore no longer have relations with other States;
– for others, however, this new situation created with the conquest of Rome is precisely the occasion to demonstrate that the Catholic Church, as such, possesses international juridical personality despite lacking a territory. In fact, the Pope continues to maintain relations with the other States, relations which are also guaranteed by the new government of the Kingdom of Italy with the Law of Guarantees of May 13, 1871, which ensures the independence of the Supreme Pontiff from the Italian authority and recognizes the freedom of communication with foreign states.
The diplomatic activity of the Pope also continues and does not cease to exercise the two main prerogatives of sovereignty which are the right of legation and the right to negotiate treaties, as well as the exercise of international arbitration functions.
Indeed, in the period from 1870 to 1929, the diplomatic representations of the Holy See increase and go from 14 to 30. Furthermore, the Nuncios do not cease to enjoy diplomatic immunities.
Still in the period from 1870 to 1929, about twenty international treaties of various kinds (thus including under this name concordats, conventions, modus vivendi etc.) were concluded by the Holy See and other states, not only with the Catholic powers but also with Protestant or orthodox.
It becomes clear, then, that the international subjectivity of the Holy See is not linked to a state, which no longer exists, but to the Catholic Church;
– a third position argues that the Holy See has preserved international juridical personality because it would have maintained, albeit in a very small form, a piece of territory that would never have fallen into the hands of the Italians. According to this thesis, the Holy See presents itself to the stipulation of the Lateran Treaty in 1929, which puts an end to what has been called the “Roman question” and sees the birth of the Vatican City, considering itself the holder of a double subjectivity, that of the Catholic Church and the Papal State, which it had already maintained, albeit in a reduced form and not officially recognized, but which had to be formalized. This is the thesis defined as Vaticanist.
After 1929, the year of the Lateran Treaty concluded between the Holy See and Italy which creates (and / or recognizes) the Vatican City State, the situation, from a juridical point of view, becomes even more complicated.
The difficulty lies in establishing the exact relationship between the Catholic Church, the Holy See and the Vatican City.
It is difficult to establish who is the real subject in the international order since the relationship between the Holy See, the Catholic Church and the Vatican City can be difficult to grasp, and makes the question legitimate: in what capacity does the Holy See participate in the life of the international community? And, more precisely, who is convened to conferences called by the United Nations?
The Holy See has been invited, as I said, to the Conferences for the codification of diplomatic law. But if we consider to whom the invitation to participate in these conferences was addressed we see that, apart from the last one, that of ’75, which is addressed to all States (only States, however, are invited), in the previous two, the invitation was addressed only to member states of the United Nations or members of a specialized institution or states party to the Statute of the International Court of Justice.
Now, the Holy See is a member only of one specialized institution of the United Nations, namely the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.). But in what capacity is the Holy See a member of the I.A.E.A?
It is as Vatican City and not as an organ of the Catholic Church.
In fact, the invitation to participate was addressed to the government of the Vatican City, even if the one who will sign the final Statute will be the Holy See, while specifying that it signed on behalf of the Vatican City State.
On 7 January 1960 the Director General of the aforementioned Atomic Energy Agency made it known to all Member States that the permanent representative of the Vatican City has notified that his Government always wishes to be called with the name of the Holy See, not only at that Agency, but also in all the specialized institutions of the United Nations Organization.
From that date, the juridical position of the Holy See, honestly speaking, has become more complex.
However, despite the juridical complexity of the question, it seems quite evident that when a State deals with the Holy See or when the latter is invited to international conferences, it is well known that it is interested in dealing with the Catholic Church and not with a tiny statelet.
It is not indifferent that the 1961 codification conference of diplomatic law also confirmed to the Apostolic Nuncio the possibility, for those countries that so desire, to give him priority in the diplomatic corps, without respecting the chronology of accreditation.
This means that, undoubtedly, a State that attributes the right of deanery to the Apostolic Nuncio does not consider him as Ambassador of the Vatican, the smallest state in the world, but as Representative of the Head of the Catholic Church.
In brackets: The aforementioned question of the precedence of the Apostolic Nuncio in the diplomatic corps was much discussed within the Conference on the codification of diplomatic law, as a demonstration of how important it is this role!
In fact, there were those who argued that such recognition would go against the fundamental principle of the juridical equality of States.
The debate was heated. The countries that were most opposed to this concession were those of the Communist bloc and, particularly active, was Yugoslavia.
However, the position of those who believed that the right of precedence was granted to the Apostolic Nuncio prevailed because of the very special – essentially spiritual – position of the Holy See within the international community.
In short, and I conclude this first part of my speech, over the centuries the international subjectivity of the Holy See has survived the storms of the Protestant reform, the French revolution and Napoleon, the Italian annexation and today it exercises its presence in the international community through a network of diplomatic relations of more than 180 countries, not counting its representatives at the United Nations Organization and other government organizations.
II – Role and activities of the Holy See in the international community.
We can now ask ourselves: what is the role of this somewhat sui generis subject of international law in the international community?
To understand this, it is useful to refer to the principles that animate its diplomacy.
I would consider four of them:
A) a first principle that motivates the diplomacy of the Holy See is the centrality of the human person and his rights, starting with the right to life, in all phases of its biological development.
In its interventions, the Holy See always reminds that life is a gift that comes from Above and that, therefore, it is sacred, from conception to natural death.
For its sacredness, for the Holy See the right to life is the foundation of all the other rights, which are also fundamental, such as the right of freedom of conscience and religion, the right of education, work, human development, etc.
The guarantee of freedom of conscience and religion contemplates the possibility for believers, whatever their creed is, to participate in the social and political life of the country, based on the principle of citizenship which considers every citizen equal before the law, with its rights and its duties.
B) A second principle on which the diplomatic activity of the Holy See is based on is the promotion and defense of peace.
This aspect of the international activity of the Holy See is well known. It claims that the means of dialogue and mediation, such as arbitration by impartial third parties, or an international authority with sufficient powers, are always to be preferred to resolve disputes.
We know that the Holy See itself has played this role of mediator for the promotion of peace several times.
For example, in the dispute between Argentina and Chile over the sovereignty of the islands of the Beagle Channel and the adjacent maritime space. The arbitration of the Holy See will have a happy conclusion with the signature in the Vatican, on November 29, 1984, of a treaty of peace and friendship between the two Latin American countries and with the solemn exchange of the instruments of ratification which took place, again in the Vatican, May 2, 1985.
More recently, and I mention this as a personal witness, the Holy See, thanks in particular to the personal commitment of Pope Francis, has played an important role in the rapprochement between Cuba and the United States, which has led to the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, after over than 50 years of broken relations and confrontation. It was exciting to witness the raising of the flag at the reopening of the American Embassy in Havana.
Pontifical diplomacy, in promoting peace, is not based on political or economic power, but on the strength of neutrality and, thank God, allow me the presumption, also on the prestige gained over the years for the constant search for the common good, regardless of material interests.
Unfortunately, the efforts employed do not always arrive at the desired solutions.
You will recall the intense activity and personal commitment of St. John Paul II who sent personal delegates to Baghdad and Washington when the Iraq war in 2003 seemed inevitable, as well as the strong expressions uttered publicly: “War is an adventure with no return! “, or:” War is always a defeat for humanity! “. Unfortunately, those appeals have fallen into the ears of the deaf and the fateful consequences of that conflict, certainly avoidable, we still carry now and have been even expanded.
A look at this region.
You know even better the commitment of the Polish Pope for the peace in this region, and his numerous appeals, because … “In conscience I cannot remain silent“, as he said in the Angelus of 30 August 1992 before calling on the United Nations and Europe to demonstrate the courage of “humanitarian intervention” to “disarm the aggressor” in the former Yugoslavia.
This concept of “humanitarian intervention” was also reaffirmed on December 5, 1992, when he spoke in Rome at the International Conference on Nutrition organized by the WHO and FAO, and on January 23, 1994, a day of prayer for peace in the Balkans, when the Pontiff expressed his desolation in front of a conflict that nothing seems able to stop, inviting the competent bodies to do anything possible “to disarm the aggressor and create the conditions for a just and lasting peace “.
On 10 September 1994, while the conflict rages, Saint John Paul II arrives to Zagreb. Touching are his words pronounced upon arrival at the airport where he regrets not being able to go to Sarajevo as well, as he would have liked, confirming to the inhabitants of that tormented city that “You are not abandoned; we are with you and we will always be with you”, as he wrote in the message that he would have liked to personally read in front of the President of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but which he could only send.
On April 12, 1997, the same Pontiff finally tramples the soil of the still wounded city of Sarajevo and utters these words: “No more war, no more hatred and intolerance“. And while the wounds were still open, the Pope had the courage to invite to forgive: “The natural instinct for revenge must yield to the liberating power of forgiveness“.
Eighteen years after the visit of St. John Paul II, another pilgrim of peace, Pope Francis, will set foot in Sarajevo: it was June 6, 2015. Almost twenty years after the Srebrenica massacre, the Bishop of Rome tried to underline the positive efforts that, despite everything, have been made while stressing that “cordial and fraternal relations between Muslims, Jews, Christians and other religious minorities” have an importance that goes far beyond the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They “testify to the whole world that collaboration between various ethnic groups and religions in view of the common good is possible“.
Addressing the members of the collegial presidency made up of three representatives for the Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian communities, according to the 1995 agreements, Pope Francis asks for the recognition of the “fundamental values of common humanity” in order to collaborate, to dialogue, to forgive, to build and grow together, all values that are in opposition to “barbarity” and “fanatical cries of hatred”.
Pope Francis pilgrim of peace.
Pope Francis has made his pastoral trips a privileged tool for promoting peace and coexistence among populations, starting with his first trip abroad, the one to the Holy Land, where I had the honor of welcoming him when landed in Amman, Jordan. It was an ecumenical and interreligious trip, aimed to the promotion of peace, which took place from 24 to 26 May 2014.
The first positive consequence of that trip will be the ecumenical and interreligious prayer meeting in the Vatican Gardens on June 8, 2014, just two weeks after, where together with Pope Francis, were present the Patriarch Bartholomeus of Constantinople and the Presidents Shimon Peres, of Israel, and Mahmoud Abbas, of Palestine.
We cannot forget the trips to the Central African Republic realized in the middle of a civil war, to Myamar, Bangladesh and Colombia in 2017, as well as the spiritual retreat for civil and ecclesiastical authorities of South Sudan (11 April 2017), where he will have the courage to bend down to kiss the feet of the leaders of the three rival factions in the country, as well as the last symbolic and historic trip to Iraq, the only trip organized in the middle of a pandemic, against many attempts to stop or discourage it.
The yearning for peace has prompted Pope Francis to risk misunderstanding many times in order to get close and to encourage peoples at war or coming out from various kind of conflicts.
C) A third principle that inspires the diplomatic action of the Holy See is social justice.
Peace, in fact, is much more than the absence of conflicts. “There is no peace without justice!”, said St. John Paul II.
Pope Francis’s teaching on this point is well known. Each country has the duty to ensure that some basic needs be guaranteed to its citizens: food, health, work, housing, education. It is enough to re-read the speeches made during the trip to Latin America in July 2015 and, in particular, the meeting in Bolivia with the Popular Movements, as well as the speech at the United Nations where he reiterated the need to ensure what he called the three T : tierra, techo, trabajo (land, roof, work).
As already mentioned in n. 76 of the Apostolic Constitution Gaudium et Spes of the Second Vatican Council, “The Church, for her part, founded on the love of the Redeemer, contributes toward the reign of justice and charity within the borders of a nation and between nations“.
Acting primarily in favor of the poor, denouncing the “culture of waste”, working for peace, protecting the environment, healing divisions in the Christian world and in the interreligious sphere, to foster fraternity among all men, are the cornerstones of social diplomacy of Pope Francis.
D) The current Bishop of Rome has given a newer orientation to the diplomatic activity of the Holy See and we could identify a fourth principle, that of fraternity.
It is for the principle of fraternity that Pope Francis has often made himself the voice of the least, as when he went to Lampedusa, where he wanted to express his closeness and his support for refugees and draw attention to the trafficking of human persons and to the now globalized culture of indifference.
Having experienced firsthand what it means to leave his own homeland, Pope Francis made a countless intervention in favor of the immigrants who are putting at risk their lives in the desperate attempt to seek a more just and humane world, for themselves and their children.
The promotion of universal fraternity based on justice, as he will well explain in the programmatic manifesto of this objective, the encyclical “Fratelli tutti“, can undoubtedly be considered one of the priorities of Pope Francis’ diplomatic commitment, which we could call diplomacy of fraternity, or brotherhood diplomacy.
A clear example of it is the trip to Abu Dhabi where a historical page was written in the relationship between Christianity and Islamism with the signing of the Document “Human fraternity for world peace and living together”, which underlines that the diplomacy of dialogue is possible and its strength must not be underestimated.
Peace, human rights, social justice and fraternity, the four fundamental principles of the Holy See’s diplomacy, are strongly interdependent.
This means that, first of all, war must be avoided through the path of dialogue.
The Holy Father will say in his speech to the United Nations on 29 September 2015: “War is the negation of all rights (…). If we want true integral human development for all, we must work tirelessly to avoid war between nations and peoples.
To this end, there is a need to ensure the uncontested rule of law and tireless recourse to negotiation, mediation and arbitration, as proposed by the Charter of the United Nations, which constitutes truly a fundamental juridical norm“.
The weapons of the Holy See
Pope Francis believes that in order to achieve peace, the issue of poverty, exclusion and indifference must be faced with courage and determination. For awakening this awareness has made provocative signs with great symbolic significance.
In addition to the aforementioned trip to Lampedusa, he repeated the same message with other moments full of symbolic significance, such as the trip to the island of Lesbos to reawakening attention on the phenomenon of migration that is assuming enormous proportions and to encourage governments to take appropriate measures for facing it.
In Mexico too he obtained to celebrate a Mass on the border with the United States, a symbolic place of dramatic migrations towards North America.
In this context, a few words would also be useful regarding the promotion of the so-called “humanitarian corridors” devised to tackle the epoch-making phenomenon of migration in compliance with legality and human rights.
Pontifical diplomacy, in fact, works for peace not only through striking gestures, but by following the methods and rules that are proper to subjects of international law, that is, developing concrete responses, also in juridical terms, to prevent, resolve or regulate conflicts and to prevent their possible degeneration into the irrationality of the force of weapons.
A strategy based on a balance of terror cannot lead to peace. For a sustainable peace, the Holy See is convinced that the weapons of dialogue and prayer are much more effective. These are the ammunition that give Vatican diplomacy its own and original position.
We have seen this in the vigils of prayer and fasting, organized to avoid a world conflict on Syria and the aforementioned convocation of the leaders of the state of Israel and Palestine to pray in the gardens of the Vatican. Or the worldwide call to a “marathon of prayers” connecting sanctuary all over the world during last month of May to implore the end of the pandemic.
Some might say: look at the results, what do prayers and fasts get?
I have no difficulty in answering: look at the results, what do the weapons and embargoes get?
In conclusion: considering the characteristics of the diplomacy of the Holy See, we see how the aim pursued is essentially religious, that is, it falls within that being true “peacemakers” and not “workers of wars or at least workers of misunderstanding”, as Pope Francis recalled in a morning meditation in Santa Marta (9.06.2014).