Archbishop Gallagher wars end only through diplomacy and reconciliation

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“We are all hungry for peace, and this peace cannot be achieved without walking the paths of reconciliation.” Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher reaffirmed this stance in a keynote speech at a conference on Vatican diplomacy he delivered in Liechtenstein on 24 April.

The Vatican Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations was in the European Principality for a two-day official visit which ends on Tuesday.

In his extensive speech, titled Diplomacy and the Gospel, Archbishop Gallagher gave a wide-range insight into Papal diplomacy that, inspired by the Gospel, “is always in favour of peace and human dignity, with mercy as a guiding principle to promote reconciliation”.

Indeed, he said, the Gospel educates “like no other to the art of moving towards peace”, overcoming the spiral of war, resentment, and hatred, and guiding peoples and nations “on the path of dialogue and the pursuit of the common good”.

Papal diplomacy is impartial as it has no interests of power

The Vatican representative further highlighted that the “Papal diplomacy has no interests of power: neither political, economic, nor ideological”, unlike that of states, “which pursue their own interests”.  Its only concern is the promotion of the common good of humanity. Therefore, it “can represent the reasons of one party to the others with greater freedom, and denounce to each party the risks that a self-referential vision can pose to everyone”.

This explains why in emergency situations, such as the ongoing war in Ukraine, world leaders seek and find in Pope Francis “a moral authority and a remarkable reference point, to the extent that they invoke his intervention and mediation”, though unfortunately, Archbishop Gallagher said, the Pope’s and the Holy See’s efforts to mediate between Russia and Ukraine so far haven’t produced any progress.

Diplomacy as an alternative to weapons

The prelate went on to remark that behind what appear to be the failures of diplomacy in solving the several conflicts raging in the world, which Pope Francis has often described as a “fragmented third world war”, are also the huge “flows of money and weapons that support and fuel conflicts”, as repeatedly decried by the Pope.

This is why the Holy See supports, and the Holy Father strongly emphasises, a diplomacy that must rediscover its role “as a bearer of solidarity among people and nations as an alternative to weapons, violence, and terror”, that serves as a “vehicle for dialogue, cooperation, and reconciliation, and “capable of replacing the use of force with encounter and dialogue”.

We can say that in its international presence, the Holy See has always promoted this ‘active virtue’ that Pope Francis himself has called ‘the courage of peace’ which means ‘the strength to persevere in dialogue at all costs, the patience to weave day by day the increasingly robust fabric of respectful and peaceful coexistence, for the glory of God and the good of all. It takes courage to make peace, much more than to make war.’

Archbishop Paul Gallagher

Need uphold human rights and to reform the functioning of the UN

In the second part of his speech, Archbishop Gallagher highlighted the need for the international community to strive, “in a spirit of fraternity”, so that the heritage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights it adopted as the foundation of the new post-war order “can continue to indicate today the common horizon for the construction of our societies”.

In the face of the deep crisis of the multilateral system, the Vatican representative also emphasized the urgent need to reform the functioning of the United Nations, “in a more representative manner, taking into account the needs of all peoples.” This, he said, requires the support of the entire international community and the recovery of the ‘Spirit of Helsinki’.

“Especially the current war in Ukraine has shown, within the same international community, within the same international community, a deep crisis of the multilateral system and large organizations, particularly the United Nations. How necessary is a reform of the functioning of this organization, in a more representative manner, taking into account the needs of all peoples! This requires the support of the entire international community and the recovery, as Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has often emphasised, of the ‘Spirit of Helsinki.’”

Archbishop Paul Gallagher

Mercy a diplomatic category for the Church

In the final part of his speech, Archbishop Gallagher recalled that at the core of the Holy See’s diplomacy is mercy which “for the Church also becomes a political and diplomatic category”, and is  “the only one capable of breaking the chains of hatred and revenge”.

To achieve peace we must think the unthinkable even in Ukraine

“In the sign of this mercy we cannot resign ourselves to the fact that the war in Ukraine may continue for a long time with tragic and unimaginable consequences, said the Vatican prelate. “Even if there seem to be no openings for negotiations at the moment, we must never lose hope, believing that this war will end, even if it may not be the ending imagined by President Zelensky or President Putin”.

“We all desire a just peace, but peace must come, and to achieve this, if necessary, we must also ‘think the unthinkable'”.