VATICAN CITY — In his first meeting with the ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, Vatican Secretary of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin emphasized their role in working together towards peace and the good of man.
His Dec. 13 address came a day after Pope Francis encouraged the 17 newly appointed ambassadors to collaborate to end human trafficking.
“In a time in which many parts of the world are faced with numerous forms of violence and the persistence of social inequality, I would like to renew before you the guarantee of my willingness to collaborate in the search for peace and respect for the dignity of every human being,” Archbishop Parolin said.
He referred to Pope Francis’ words to the same body, spoken March 22, shortly after his election, “That, indeed, is what matters to the Holy See: the good of every person upon this earth,” saying that this statement is “the compass” which will guide his work for peace and respect for human dignity.
Archbishop Parolin was himself the apostolic nuncio to Venezuela and worked for some time in the Secretariat of State, and so he knew many of the persons whom he was addressing in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.
He referred to himself as a “traveling companion” of the ambassadors, because of their common human nature, which gives rise to a fraternity which was the subject of Pope Francis’ message for the 2014 World Day of Peace.
“We cannot remain indifferent to the suffering that dramatically affects human beings,” he urged.
“We must show that peace is possible,” rather than a utopian ideal that can only be aimed at, he said. But he added that peace is not a creation of men, of political systems, “but, rather, a real asset that comes from God and which we are able to contribute to building through personal and joint commitment and solidarity.”
To be peacemakers, collaborating with God, he told the ambassadors, “it is necessary to work together for the establishment of a true culture of peace, courageously responding to the challenges that imperil the authentic coexistence among persons and peoples.”
“Thus, we answer one of the deepest aspirations of man, the aspiration to well-being. Is not the mission of diplomats one of working for a better world, for the establishment or strengthening of ever more fraternal relations?”
Archbishop Parolin noted that every human person “is created to experience joy and seeks joy, true joy.” While this true joy is “often obscured” or is absent, “it is present in the good that is done every day” and “in progress towards peace and towards mutual understanding among peoples, fragile and limited though this may seem. It is the joy of encounter and exchange, of dialogue and reconciliation.”
“This is the humanity that we seek to build together! A humanity that is a true family, a humanity in which dialogue prevails over war for the resolution of disagreements.”
He continued, “We know that many of today’s men and women are in need, along their path, of encounter with profoundly human and brotherly people able to give them hope for the future. Pope Francis wants Christians to be these people and hopes that the Church will announce, testify to and bear joy.”
“He repeated this with insistence in the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, which can ideally be read in conjunction with the letter that he addressed to his faithful as archbishop of Buenos Aires, at the opening of the Year of Faith. From the beginning, it speaks of a Church whose doors are open, a symbol of light, friendship, joy, freedom and trust. To conclude the Year of Faith, in a letter addressed to the universal Church, Pope Francis repeated his conviction of will for a Church that is less concerned with strengthening her confines, but is rather seeking encounter and communicating the joy of the Gospel.”
Joy, for Christians, he concluded, “has its foundation in the person of Jesus, whose birth we celebrate a few days from now. May joy and peace help your peoples to grow and progress towards a better future.”
The British ambassador to the Holy See, Nigel Baker, said Dec. 13 that Archbishop Parolin’s speech “made a very positive impact,” and he noted that it was one of “a series of important pronouncements” from the Holy See addressing human dignity in recent days.
He mentioned the Caritas campaign against world hunger launched Dec. 10; Pope Francis’ speech the previous day to new ambassadors; and a speech by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary of relations with states, at a Georgetown University conference on freedom of religion.
Andrea Gagliarducci is Catholic News Agency’s Vatican observer.