Cardinal Bertone's Address at the Presentation of His Book on Vatican Diplomacy

«Dialogue and encounter were the vital and long-lasting experience of the service of these seven years»

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Here is a translation of an address given today by former secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, at the presentation of his book “Papal Diplomacy in a Globalized World.”

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Eminence, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Dear Friends,

After hearing the learned reports given to illustrate the contents of the ponderous volume that brings together the main addresses pronounced in these seven years of service to the Holy See, the moment of thanks has arrived. To the organizers of the event, in particular, to the collaborators of the Secretariat of State and to my Secretary, to the Moderator Father Federico Lombardi, to the Reporters, H.E. Monsignor Dominique Mamberti, intelligent and excellent Secretary for Relations with States, to Doctor Hans-Gert Pottering, former President of the European Parliament and still President of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, to Professor Vincenzo Buonomo, docent of International Law and diligent editor of the volume, go my sincere gratitude for having wished to honor me with their participation and the contribution of their knowledge, which has made us penetrate profoundly in the subjects and the dynamics of ethics and international law, drawing from the sources that have always nourished the doctrine and the practice of relations between peoples: the natural law and therefore God’s original plan for humanity.

This volume, elegant in its execution and typographic composition – and for this I thank the Vatican Publishing House and Typography – is embellished by a meditated Preface of Pope Francis. When some time ago I presented the sketches of the book to him and I referred also to the Preface, he said to me: “If you are happy, I’ll do it. Leave it to me.” And thus in a subsequent Audience he gave me the Preface sealed by inspired thoughts which do not cease to amaze me and, I think, will also amaze you by the broad vision of diplomacy (I quote) “called, in face of the negative and paralyzing globalization, to undertake a task of reconstruction by rediscovering her prophetic dimension, determining what we could call utopia of the good.”

Among other things, at the end of the same Preface, the Pope writes, quoting Borges: “The yardstick of the life of the Servants of the Church is not dictated by that ‘printing of news in capital letters, so that people will think that it is indisputably true’ (J.L. Borges), rather it is woven, although in the limits inherent to the condition and possibility of each one, by the silent and generous dedication to the authentic good of the Body of Christ  and to the enduring service of the cause of man. Because of this, history, whose measure is the truth of the cross, will render evident the intense action of Cardinal Bertone …” Pope Francis, therefore, is at the top of the list of my thanks, for the appreciation he has shown me with his touching words.

Remaining as a fixed point in my conviction, therefore, is that the ethics of solidarity (another key expression of Pope Francis) is expressed in the Community of States on the “basis of love and working solidarity. This, however, is not something that grows spontaneously, but implies the need to invest work, patience, daily commitment, sincerity, humility and professionalism. Is this not the masterful way that diplomacy is called to follow in this 21st century?” (still using words of the Pope). The diplomatic action exercised by a Secretary of State , who is also Bishop of the Catholic Church, though through the appropriate rules and methods, cannot but be combined, therefore, with pastoralism.

Allow me, by way of conclusion, to pause a few minutes for a personal testimony that relates to some aspects of these rich and troubled seven years, which have seen me exercise the mission of Secretary of State, with the profound conviction of the need to infuse in it the concrete sense of pastoralism and mission. On the other hand this is the path indicated by Supreme Shepherds of the whole Church at this time. Set among the many duties (audiences, meetings, study of practices, mass of correspondence) connected with the task of aiding the Successor of Peter, are the trips “to take the Papal Magisterium and the Apostolic Blessing everywhere: countries, dioceses, parishes, universities, institutions, associations,” as Pope Francis underscores in his letter of discharge. Of these I would like to recall some of particular importance. Poland is the land that received me most often for degrees honoris causa, for international congresses and for beatifications proclaimed as Papal Legate (2007, 2009, 2010, 2012). In the United States I had the honor to preside over the 125th Assembly of the Knights of Columbus (2007). In Peru I visited the populations struck by the terrible earthquake of 2007, taking the caress of the Pope above all to the throngs of tried and smiling children (2007). In Cuba I commemorated the 10th anniversary of John Paul II’s apostolic journey, meeting young students and Authorities, the Episcopate and the Diplomatic Corps (2008). In Mexico I participated in the 6th World Meeting of Families as Papal Legate (2009). In Chile I celebrated the 200 years of national independence, but I also visited the cities struck by the earthquake of 2010.

I leave out the numerous trips in Europe (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Byelorussia , Czech Republic, Croatia, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia, Ukraine) and Asian Kazakhstan, and I come to some events of particular importance in Italy. Among the different interventions be it in the ecclesial ambit be it in places of social and political commitment, for the purpose of illustrating the social teaching of the church, or of stressing events of special significance for the present, I am pleased to mention the 140thanniversary of Rome Capital, with the historic meeting at the Porta Pia, and the 150thof Italian unity with the delivery of the lofty message of Pope Benedict XVI at the Quirinale. Finally, I will never efface from my eyes and from my memory the sacred space prepared at the Caserma dell’Aquila with the long line in the open of victims of the earthquake formed by simple coffins.

To conclude, I will say that the function of the Secretary of State, heir of an ancient and unique tradition, which became after Vatican Council II so different and distant from the so-called “papal monarchy”, is that of being collaborator, adviser and faithful instrument of a mission that comes from on high and which is embodied in the variegated and original personality of different Successors of Peter.  

For me, who have been from my youth marked by the vocational charism of Don Bosco’s preventive system, dialogue and encounter were the vital and long-lasting experience of the service of these seven years. And I am happy that the innumerable letters received of greeting, of gratitude of leave of Cardinals, of Bishops, also in the name of whole Episcopal Conferences, of Heads of State and of Government of various Nations, focused on this style of encounter, of looking at one another in the face, of genuine and confident dialoguing.

I finish by quoting once again the Preface of Pope Francis, stressing the hope that papal diplomacy will contribute to the “rebirth of the moral dimension in international relations, which will allow the human family to live and develop at the same time. If man manifests his humanity in communication, in relationship, in love towards his fellow men, the different Nations can be linked around shared objectives and practices, and thus generate a common well-rooted feeling.”

I thank you for listening and I take advantage of this occasion to address sincere good wishes to my successor, His Excellency Monsignor Pietro Parolin, who will soon take possession of his office of first collaborator of His Holiness Pope Francis in guiding the Holy See and in promoting relations with States.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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