The Holy See was represented by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin Photo: Vatican Media

Why did the Holy See not sign the declaration in favor of Ukraine at the Swiss Summit?

Statement of His Eminence Card. Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State – High-level Summit on peace for Ukraine Switzerland (15- 16 June 2024)

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 06.17.2024).- On June 15-16, 2024, the Holy See, accepting the joint invitation of the President of the Swiss Confederation, Viola Amherd, and the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, participated as an observer in the High-Level Summit on Peace for Ukraine, held in Switzerland.

The Holy See was represented by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, accompanied by the Apostolic Nuncio to Switzerland, Monsignor Martin Krebs, and by Monsignor Paul Butnaru, an official of the Section for Relations with States and International Organizations of the Secretariat of State.

In accordance with the nature of the Holy See and its Observer status, and following the practice of not signing joint declarations, the Delegation of the Holy See refrained from signing the Final Communiqué, although it expressed its support for the conclusions of the Summit, as reflected in the speech that Card. Parolin delivered during the final Plenary Session, which is reproduced below:


The Holy See welcomes the convening of this High-level Summit on peace for Ukraine, co hosted by Switzerland and Ukraine. It is an event of global importance, carefully prepared by  Ukraine, which, while making enormous efforts to defend itself from aggression, has also worked  continuously on the diplomatic front, eager to achieve a just and lasting peace.

In the face of war and its tragic consequences, it is important never to give up, but to  continue to seek ways to end the conflict with good intentions, trust and creativity. This is the  message Pope Francis conveys, particularly to the rulers of nations, with his ongoing appeals for  peace in Ukraine. It is important to reiterate that the only means capable of achieving true, stable  and just peace is dialogue between all the parties involved. The Holy See expresses its hope that the  diplomatic effort currently being promoted by Ukraine and supported by so many countries will be  improved, in order to achieve the results that the victims deserve and that the entire world is hoping  for.

In accordance with its nature, the Holy See is participating as an Observer, paying particular  attention to the respect for international law and humanitarian issues. With regard to the first aspect,  it wishes to reaffirm the validity of the fundamental principle of respect for the sovereignty of each  country and for the integrity of its territory. 

The Holy See expresses great deal concern for the tragic humanitarian consequences and is  especially committed to facilitating the repatriation of children and encouraging the release of  prisoners, especially seriously wounded soldiers and civilians.

The reunification of minors with their families or legal guardians must be a paramount  concern for all parties, and any exploitation of their situation is unacceptable. It is therefore  imperative that every available channel is strengthened to facilitate this process. In addition, the  Holy See participates as an observer in the work of the International Coalition for the repatriation of  Ukrainian children from Russia. Furthermore, it maintains direct contact with both the Ukrainian  and Russian authorities with the aim of enhancing the effectiveness of the ad hoc mechanism  created following the visit of Cardinal Matteo Zuppi to Kyiv and Moscow, with a view to resolving  concrete cases.

With regard to prisoners, both civilian and military, there is a great of concern over the  periodic reports of non-compliance with the Geneva Conventions. In particular about the Fourth  Convention, which most directly concerns civilians, and the difficulty of creating, together with the  International Red Cross Committee, a Joint Medical Commission that could assess the situation of  prisoners of war in need of urgent medical care. Despite all the challenges, the Holy See remains  committed to maintaining regular communication with the Ukrainian and Russian authorities, and  remains prepared to assist in the implementation of potential mediation initiatives that are  acceptable to all parties and benefit those who have been affected. At the same time, the Holy See  encourages countries and other members of the international community to explore ways of  providing assistance and facilitating mediation, whether of a humanitarian or political nature. We  trust that by supporting these efforts, we can help to find consensus and ensure the timely  implementation of these projects.

On behalf of Pope Francis, I wish to confirm his personal closeness to the tormented  Ukrainian people and his unwavering commitment to peace.

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