ROME, JAN. 16, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Church “is a sovereign subject of international law but of a strictly religious nature,” and in this function the Holy See tries to “the art of peace,” says Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.
The former Vatican secretary for relations with states revealed the principles that inspire Holy See diplomacy, during a conference organized by the University of the Holy Cross’ faculty of canon law.
“The role of papal diplomacy,” Cardinal Tauran said Thursday, “is based on the centrality of the human person and his rights, the promotion and defense of peace, and the affirmation that peace is not only the absence of conflicts, but is supported by an order based on law and justice.” Consequently, “there is no peace without justice,” he said.
Before an audience that included about 30 ambassadors, the cardinal recalled that during the recent Iraqi crisis, the Holy See considered negotiations and diplomacy “always preferable,” except in cases of legitimate defense. “Violence generates violence,” he added.
“Every country should respect the principles of international law and the conventions to which it has adhered,” the cardinal said.
In fact, respect for the juridical corpus of the international community and, in particular, for the principle “pacta sunt servanda” [agreements must be respected], “would spare much blood and international crises,” Cardinal Tauran said. He added that “the force of law must prevail over the law of force.”
Quoting John Paul II, the cardinal also appealed to the United Nations not to be “an administrative center, but a moral center where all nations feel at home.”
The Holy See’s diplomacy “tries to help leaders to find equitable solutions for the good of the world,” the cardinal continued.
In regard to the Church’s appreciation of democracy, Cardinal Tauran said that this political system means, precisely, “participation and responsibility, rights and duties,” a framework where political leaders must answer to their fellow citizens.
Referring to fundamental rights, Cardinal Tauran said “that the Church has always had at heart the centrality of the human person, defending in the first place the right to life, from its beginning until death.”
The cardinal lamented that there are still laws and situations that “endanger human life,” and he mentioned abortion, experimentation with embryos, and the liberalization of euthanasia.
“Life is at the base of all the other fundamental rights,” he said. “Among these, religious freedom is of particular importance which, if suppressed, threatens the other fundamental freedoms.”