Appearing on Italian news channel Tg2, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin spoke about the Holy See’s Agreement with China on the nomination of bishops; the conditions for self-defence in war; the role of Catholics in politics, and Pope John Paul I as a reformer.
Newsroom (03/09/2022 12:15 PM Gaudium Press) On Friday evening, Cardinal Parolin offered an in-depth analysis of the war in Ukraine, its international implications, and the Holy See’s relations of trust with China and Russia in an interview on Italian television news channel Tg2.
Speaking of the Provisional Agreement the Holy See signed with China in 2018, Cardinal Parolin said, “When you negotiate with someone, you must always start from recognizing their good faith. Otherwise, the negotiation makes no sense.”
The Cardinal said he is convinced that the Provisional Agreement – aimed at ensuring that all bishops in the country are in communion with the Pope and are entirely Chinese and fully Catholic – will be renewed. He noted that a delegation from the Holy See has returned to China to continue discussions, acknowledging that there have been many difficulties and a long way to go. He added that the journey requires patience to continue going forward to see the “seeds” that have been planted sprout despite adverse weather.
Preparing for a meeting with Kirill
Although initially expected to attend an inter-religious gathering in Kazakhstan at which Pope Francis will be present, Patriarch Kirill has since cancelled his trip. No reasons for the cancellation were given, “but I believe,” said the Cardinal, that a meeting between Pope Francis and Kirill should be “well-prepared” for it to be effective. He noted that the dialogue between the Patriarchate and the Catholic Church continues despite ecclesial traditions, as in Orthodoxy, that see churches characterized by greater identification with the authorities of the country in which they operate. “We respect this reality,” he said when it is lived with moderation, adding, “This does not invalidate the dialogue.”
A possible papal visit to Ukraine
Cardinal Parolin also spoke about diplomatic relations with Ukraine, saying there has been no change. He said Pope Francis is determined to visit the country, as the Pope has said publicly, when conditions are right and when such a visit could contribute to the cause of peace and not simply be a photo opportunity.
However, the Cardinal reiterated that, from a diplomatic perspective, the Holy See remains open to all, both the aggressors and those who have been attacked, to establish a lasting peace. Cardinal Parolin said he sees John Paul I as a model, pointing to his dream of a “just” and “complete” peace – one that satisfies everyone and considers everything to avoid future conflicts.
The conditions for a defensive war
The Cardinal also reaffirmed the condemnation of the arms race and the right of people to defend themselves when attacked. There is no contradiction between the two, the Cardinal explained, noting that the Catechism of the Catholic Church recognizes the right of armed defence and an obligation is to stop the aggressor. However, he insisted that the exercise of the right to self-defence must conform to precise conditions, which the Secretary of State listed, emphasizing that the power of modern means of destruction must be taken into account.
He further explained the reasons for the Pope’s grave concern about the arms race, noting that in 2021 alone, military expenditure amounted to some two trillion dollars. He described the arms race as a “folly” due to the risk of escalation of all against all, while resources are taken away from other needs in the world.
Politics suffers from the withdrawal of Catholics
Cardinal Parolin then turned to the current Italian political crisis, culminating in a general election on 25 September. The Cardinal acknowledged a tendency in society to relegate religion to the private sphere and said Catholics, too, can be sidelined at times. However, the Cardinal continued that despite the current trend of secularization, the withdrawal of Catholics from civil life is unacceptable. “We cannot accept this,” he said, “because of the social and historical dimension of Christianity.” He continued, “The presence of Catholics in politics is important and the contribution they can make is important. The hope is that, inspired by the Pope’s teaching, they can have a complete vision of the issues, for example of life, without focusing on particular aspects, and that they can express this also in the parties in which they are inserted.”
John Paul I: a reformer
Finally, just two days before the beatification of John Paul I, the Cardinal could not fail to speak about the former pontiff, whom he described as a pastor who was close to the poorest people and focused on the essentials of faith and the Gospel.
Pope John Paul I was simple, humble, and certainly not conservative, he continued. On the contrary, Cardinal Parolin said, he was an authentic promoter of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, first in his diocese, later in the Patriarchate of Venice, and finally in the universal Church.
Cardinal Parolin added that there is no truth to persistent rumours that the former was poisoned. John Paul I died a natural death, he insisted, citing the documents of the postulation process as well as “incontrovertible testimonies.”
Finally, he said, Pope John Paul I’s teaching on issues such as migration, pandemics, and war, rooted in the Church’s Social Doctrine, is still influential. Cardinal Parolin echoed the words of John Paul I in which he summed up what his commitments would look like today: “We will support everything that can help bring peace to this troubled world.”
- Raju Hasmukh (Via Vatican news)