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Vatican diplomacy bogged down in Gaza and Ukraine

2024-02-21T05:05:09.347Z

Highlights: Vatican diplomacy bogged down in Gaza and Ukraine. Pope Francis has been calling the Christian parish of Gaza every afternoon for weeks. The Pope decided to entrust the mission to Ukraine to the cardinal and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Matteo Zuppi. But the results, for now, are limited to keeping all channels open and valuable humanitarian work that, however, is far from mediation for peace. The Vatican has other channels such as local churches and their representatives that other state organizations do not have.


The Holy See raises the tone of its criticism of Israel and intensifies its contacts in kyiv in the face of the stagnation of the war conflicts in which it seeks to mediate


Pope Francis has been calling the Christian parish of Gaza every afternoon for weeks.

The Pontiff connects by videoconference and about 600 people listen to him and receive encouragement and support from him.

It is one of the few things he can do now, because the situation has become very complicated, also for the Holy See, which is unable to influence and make itself heard to achieve the long-awaited ceasefire.

Last week, the tension between Israel and the Vatican went up another notch.

The Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, denounced that the right to self-defense does not justify a “carnage” of “30,000 deaths.”

The next day, the Israeli Embassy in Italy issued a statement ensuring that the words of the Vatican's number two were "deplorable."

But the Holy See did not shrink, and

L'Osservatore Romano

, the Pope's official newspaper, again referred to the conflict in the same terms as Parolin to emphasize that it is not a personal opinion, but the line of thought of this pontificate.

The problems are growing in the two regions at war, and on the other side of the Tiber they watch helplessly as the days go by and the deaths increase: in Gaza, but also in Ukraine.

The legendary Vatican diplomacy, which forged its history as a mediator in war and political conflicts, has suddenly encountered two unexpected scenarios for which it had few resources to influence.

The war in Ukraine, just when relations with Moscow were not taking off, and the massacre in Gaza, perhaps at a time when harmony with Israel is at one of the lowest points, are two challenges for the Holy See which is weathering with difficulty.

The Pope decided to entrust the mission to Ukraine to the cardinal and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Matteo Zuppi.

The cardinal is an expert negotiator: he mediated in the resolution of the conflicts in Mozambique in 1992, in the ceasefire in Burundi in 2003 after collaborating with Nelson Mandela, or in Guatemala in the mid-nineties.

“Every war ends with a negotiation,” he said in a recent interview.

Almost eight months later, he has held meetings in Ukraine, Russia, China and the United States.

He will soon travel to France to meet with President Emmanuel Macron.

But the results, for now, are limited to keeping all channels open and valuable humanitarian work that, however, is far from mediation for peace.

Other channels

Massimo Faggioli, Church historian and professor of Theology at Villanova University (Philadelphia), adds some nuance.

“The wars in Ukraine and Gaza have incorporated more voices into the Vatican diplomacy of the Secretariat of State, although it is done in a parallel way to Cardinal Zuppi's mission.

But, on the other hand, it is clear, it is a very difficult time for any diplomacy, starting with the United States.

The Vatican, however, has other channels such as local churches and their representatives that other state organizations do not have.”

Stefano Caprio, a priest who is an expert in international conflicts and in Russia, where he lived for long periods, believes that both wars must be differentiated in the treatment they are receiving by the Vatican.

“Diplomacy in the war in Ukraine is not managed directly by the Secretary of State.

It is done in a more informal way, with Cardinal Zuppi.

And there is no great progress there.

It is true that some children who were deported [to Russia] have been returned, but little else.

As soon as the armed conflict subsides, an attempt will be made to seek meetings between ecclesiastical jurisdictions,” he points out.

The relationship with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow does not help either.

“But the foreign representative of the Orthodox is in permanent contact with Catholics, both in Moscow and here in the Vatican, where he usually comes.

That relationship exists.

But at the moment it is not giving results because there is no clear project,” he points out.

As for Israel, Caprio points out, there is more work, but the situation is more tense.

The Pope insists that the Oslo agreements be fulfilled and that we commit to the two-state solution.

The last time he said it in a long interview with the Turin newspaper

La Stampa

.

In this conflict, in which the Christian community of Palestine is also involved, Francis fully trusts Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, patriarch in the Jerusalem of the Latins.

Parolin's words from last week must be interpreted from a certain point of view of the Holy See being fed up with nothing moving in Gaza.

The Vatican has seen how many other countries raised their voices against Israel and Parolin has raised the level of petition.

He “he has pointed out Israel as the party that can stop the conflict.

He has gone beyond the prudence of Vatican diplomacy, it is true.

But that has also happened because in recent days there have been clear positions taken by important countries such as the United States, Italy, France and Spain or Ireland, which already did so at the beginning,” diplomatic sources point out.

The Vatican is looking for imaginative formulas to help improve the situation of the inhabitants of Ukraine and Gaza.

At the next World Children's Day, for example, which will be held in May in Rome, 30 boys and girls from Palestine will travel to the Italian capital.

The situation has yet to be defined, but sources from the Holy See hope that it could mean the beginning of a kind of humanitarian corridor.

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Source: elparis

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