QUEBEC CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis’ representative to Canada said diplomats today “are called to be peacemakers, in a sincere dialogue.”
In a talk at Laval University Nov. 14, Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, apostolic nuncio, stressed that pontifical diplomacy aims at serving humanity, trying to be a united family.
He said mercy is rooted in a culture of dialogue, which must be fostered in any peace process. Bonazzi quoted Pope Francis’ 2016 meeting in Havana with Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow; the meeting led to important advances in Catholic-Orthodox dialogue.
“The church does not exist to promote itself, but to collaborate with the faithful and realize the aspiration of its founder, Jesus. We must look at humanity through mercy,” he said.
Bonazzi and Anne Leahy, Canadian ambassador at the Holy See from 2008 to 2012, spoke about the role of the Vatican in international diplomacy.
“Peace and security between nations is paramount. But diplomacy is much broader than that,” said Leahy, now professor at the School of Religious Studies at McGill University in Montreal.
Bonazzi said the Vatican is trying to deploy its human resources to bring comfort and consolation in countries where it has diplomatic relations, in addition to having, when necessary, a mediation role, he said.
Such is the case with the crises in Congo, said Bonazzi, acknowledging that Congolese bishops were unable to achieve conclusive results as mediators.
The mandate of Congolese President Joseph Kabila expired last December. Since then, elections have been delayed. This postponement has increased tension and anger in the country, while violence continues in the regions of Kasai and Kivu.
“We could not continue the dialogue in these conditions. There was a withdrawal, but not abandonment. The elections will be held in December 2018,” said Bonazzi.
He said the nuncio to the Congo recently reminded people that elections must be held before Pope Francis would visit the country.
Bonazzi also noted that good international relations cannot be dominated by military force.
“No nation deserves that. Pope Francis likes to practice unarmed diplomacy,” he insisted before reaffirming the Vatican’s commitment against nuclear weapons. “Weapons are not the way to resolve a conflict. Pope Francis wants to recall that war leads to death and destruction. He invites rich countries to unite with weaker ones and invest in health and education instead of the arms industry.”
Questioned about a possible papal trip to Saskatchewan, where Pope Francis has been invited to meet with members of the First Nations, Bonazzi replied that the Holy See “is waiting for the right moment.” He said the invitation by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canadian church authorities was received with “with appreciation and consideration.”
“At the end of the month, the Holy Father will be in Myanmar and Bangladesh, where there is no prosperity. He has the desire to repair the wounds of the past, to bring healing and to meet the needs of young and old,” he added.
Demers is journalist with Presence info, based in Montreal.