Vatican Diplomacy: Realism of Hope

Papal Visitors Show Church’s Patience, Says Spokesman

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 14, 2009 ( Benedict XVI met this month with leaders from three nations where the situation of the Church is touchy. According to a Vatican spokesman, these types of meetings reflect a principle of Holy See diplomacy: the realism of hope.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, dedicated the most recent edition of Vatican Television’s “Octava Dies” to a reflection on the Pope’s meetings with the new ambassador from Cuba, and the presidents of Russia and Vietnam.

He suggested that Vatican diplomacy pursues a dialogue of hope in the name of the Gospel for the good of humanity.

So for example, Father Lombardi said, when the Holy Father was visited by the new Cuban ambassador to the Holy See, Eduardo Delgado Bermúdez, “the Pope observed that, despite the difficulties in relations with the Holy See over the past decades, and above all the limitations on the Church’s activities, diplomatic relations have never been interrupted and the improvements are appreciable.”
“The Pope’s meeting with Russian President Medvedev,” Father Lombardi continued, “was the occasion to announce the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation, concluding the 20 year effort at rapprochement with official but not yet full relations.”
This, the Jesuit underscored, “is a significant step forward,” demonstrating that “the situation of past hostility of the Soviet communist regime is today a memory.”
Finally, the audience with the president of Vietnam, Nguyen Minh Triet, “must be considered as a further stage in the hoped for journey toward the normalization of relations with the Asian country, where the Catholic Church counts on a large and dynamic community,” Father Lombardi asserted.

He noted how Catholics in Vietnam are “celebrating this year an important jubilee year” and “despite the difficulties of past decades, looks to the future in hope.”
In this way, the Vatican spokesman proposed, “the Holy See — with patience and a farsighted approach — continues to weave together its dialogue with the leaders of nations, thinking of the good of the Church in their countries and in the perspective of understanding and peace among all peoples.”
“[The Vatican’s] diplomacy is not guided by weakness or the spirit of compromise,” Father Lombardi affirmed. “It is a matter of, as has been well said in the past, the ‘realism of hope.'”

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