Holy See Is a Moral, Not Political, Power, Says Archbishop Tauran

Views It as a Sort of “Moral Corpus”

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ROME, MAY 25, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See is a world power — a moral power that gives voice to the conscience of people, says a Vatican official.

Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, Vatican secretary for relations with states, made that observation Saturday at the conclusion of a congress on “The Church and the International Order,” held at the Gregorian University.

As a moral power, the Holy See has, “if one can put it this way, a strategy: to give voice to the conscience of persons and peoples, constituting a sort of international moral corpus,” the archbishop said.

“The raison d’être of the Holy See at the heart of the community of nations is to be the voice that conscience expects, without diminishing … the contribution of the other religious traditions,” he said.

Conferees at the event included Anglican Archbishop Emeritus George Carey; Orthodox Metropolitan of France Emmanuel, who represented the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople; and Lutheran Bishop Bela Harmati, president of the Lutheran Evangelical Church of Hungary, representing the World Lutheran Federation.

The congress studied how Churches and Christian communities might promote a more just international order.

In his address Archbishop Tauran emphasized the principles that the Holy See defends and promotes: “the central character of the human person and his rights, human development, defense of peace, and appreciation of democracy.”

He warned that “peace and civil coexistence are threatened by different expressions of a totalitarian power, by obsession for security, ideology, and the pursuit of privileges for some categories of citizens.”

Regarding disarmament, the archbishop said that “the Holy See, the disarmed power par excellence, has always encouraged the efforts undertaken to achieve disarmament.” He referred to some of the treaties to which the Holy See has adhered, such as the nuclear nonproliferation treaty signed in Moscow in 1971 and the 1997 treaty against antipersonnel mines.

“During the Iraqi crisis, the Holy See said that it did not agree with the principle of the ‘preventive war,’ and appealed for respect of the United Nations Charter, in particular Chapter 7, which established the criteria of conduct in the case of threat or aggression to peace,” he explained.

The “Holy See has always defended the freedom of conscience and religion, not only as freedom of worship but also as a possibility for believers to participate in the social and political life of the country of which they are citizens,” he said.

He added: “The Holy See is opposed to any unidimensional view of man and proposes a view open to his individual, social and transcendent component.”

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