Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS - Bundesministerium für Europa

Vatican Official: Russia’s Help Crucial in Stabilizing Mediterranean

Archbishop Paul Gallagher Also Speaks on Iranian Nuclear Agreement and the European Union

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From the conflicts in the Middle East, to the Iranian Nuclear Agreement, passing through the crisis in Greece and the renewed talks between the United States and Cuba  — many are the geopolitical topics that Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States, addresses in an interview published  in Vatican Insider.

The Prelate stresses in the first place that the Holy See has received favorably the Iranian Nuclear Agreement, “because it considers that the way to resolve controversies and difficulties must always be that of dialogue and negotiation. The understanding reached is the result of many years of negotiation on a question that had aroused grave concern.” Archbishop Gallagher added that this does not take away from the fact that “such an agreement requires the continuation of efforts and of the commitment of all so that it can bear its fruits.” This is the way for “the hoped for peace in the whole” Middle Eastern “region,” he stressed.

Peace that in neighboring Iraq still seems distant. Archbishop Gallagher affirms that the Holy See hopes it will not come to a fragmentation of the country on an ethnic and/or religious basis. “I think that it is also the desire of the Iraqi authorities that tensions not grow between the Kurds, the Shi’ites and the Sunnis, but that there is greater involvement of all in the solution to the challenges that the country must address, especially those caused by the so-called Islamic State. The formation of the government of unity goes in that direction, as well as the appeals of the Prime Minister and of other authorities, not only civil but also religious,” he says.

According to the Vatican diplomat, Moscow can play an important role in stabilizing the Middle East. “Russia is an international actor of evident importance and I think we all have need to walk together, not separately, and even less so one against the other, but in a common interest to improve today’s world,” said Archbishop Gallagher, adding: ”The Russian Federation can play a role in stabilizing the Mediterranean, as it played in reaching the recent nuclear agreement with Iran.”

Placed in this context was the conversation between Pope Francis and the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, during the latter’s official visit to the Vatican last June 10.

The Pontiff’s intervention was also determinant in another geopolitical context, that which sees the USA and Cuba tying up again the ribbon of diplomatic relations after 54 years of ice. The role carried out by the Holy See in this case is in keeping with its tradition. “The Church, faithful to the mission received from the Lord, is committed to peace and reconciliation among peoples. In particular, one can see that, since World War II she has supported several processes of transformation of political and economic systems, contributing also to the creation of a greater climate of collaboration among nations. At the same time, the Holy See has sought to foster the development of international relations towards a model that is more attentive to the fundamental needs of justice and peace,” explains Archbishop Gallagher.

The Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States also spoke on the Greek economic crisis and the attitude of the European Union. “The Greek crisis certainly made evident some difficulties and certain limits lived by the European Union. Unfortunately, Europe, as it was thought by the ‘Founding Fathers’ at the end of the second world conflict, cannot be reduced to an exclusively economic-financial institution or where, to say it better, the economic aspect is preeminent over the others. Rather, the sharing of resources (initially with the CSEC, Coal and Steel Economic Community), in a solidaristic spirit, was at the beginning the inalienable premise to avoid further conflicts,” opines Archbishop Gallagher. According to the Prelate, “Although important, the economy must coexist with other values – cultural, political and ethical — equally determinant for the growth of European society.”

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