Vatican Is Open to Becoming a Full Member of U.N.

No Impediments, Says Cardinal Sodano

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ROME, SEPT. 21, 2003 ( The Holy See would be prepared to become a full member of the United Nations, says the Vatican’s secretary of state.

“According to international law, in theory, there are no impediments for the Holy See to become eventually a full member of the United Nations organizations,” Cardinal Angelo Sodano said in an address Friday.

“Nor would this be a novelty for the Holy See, if one keeps in mind the role it plays in some specialized agencies that belong to the United Nations system,” he said in statements published the next day in the Italian newspaper Avvenire.

Currently, the Holy See is a permanent observer of the United Nations, which allows it to address meetings called by that organization. But it has no voting power.

Since 1978, the Holy See has established diplomatic relations with 82 countries, increasing the total number to 174.

In his address at the Banco Popular headquarters in Sondrio, Italy, Cardinal Sodano explained the role of the Holy See on the international scene.

“Papal sovereignty in the international realm is not determined by its temporal power,” he said. “The law has already noted that the Holy See is placed within the international ordering according to its own spiritual character.”

In carrying out the Church’s “diplomatic” activity, its representatives pursue two objectives: the safeguarding and promotion of the legitimate good of the Church, and service to all peoples, regardless of their religious faith, he said.

This is why the Holy See “does not act with calculations of economic strength, but bases itself solely on the power of persuasion and patience in dialogue,” the cardinal added.

“Because of its religious nature, the Holy See always stresses the primacy of peace,” he said. “Because of its universal nature, it follows with concern all the critical situations in the world. And, finally, because of its humanitarian nature, it insists that all proper measures be taken in favor of civil populations.”

In connection with the current situation in Iraq, Cardinal Sodano said: “We ask for the commitment of Iraqis and of the international community so that an era of peace will finally arise in the Middle East.”

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