The impact of Papal Nuncios globally
Recently, the Secretary of State for Relations of the Vatican City State, the Holy See, Paul Gallagher sat down with an Economist to discuss how he shapes the Pope’s and the Holy See’s global foreign policy. Papal Ambassadors in the Catholic Hierarchy, also known as Apostolic Nuncios, represent the Holy See in over 183 countries worldwide.
On the continent of Africa, Apostolic Nuncios have been instrumental in stopping military and political conflict in countries such as Sudan, Rwanda, and Burundi. However, it’s been known to the Pope and the leaders in the Church that it is a very dangerous job. Several Apostolic Nuncios have been assassinated for negotiating peace talks between governments and rebel groups. One, in particular, happened in 2003.
His name was Michael Courtney, an Irish Prelate in the Catholic Church. He was working on peace talks between the Burundi government and the rebellious Hufu group. Archbishop Courtney had been told he was likely to get an appointment as Apostolic Nuncio to Cuba after he had established a warmer relationship between Fidel Castro and the Holy See. Sadly, Archbishop Courtney was returning from a funeral service when a gunman fired at his car and he was hit several times in the head. It has been reported that over 1,300 people attended his funeral celebration, including various senior members of the Church and members of the Irish government.
Serving in countries that are not as structured and where the order is not present or order falters may result in dangerous situations with diplomats of nations resented by their citizens. For example, Ambassador Stevens served as the American Ambassador to Lybia around when rebel groups attacked the American Embassy. Africa is a developing continent, meaning they have a lot of room to grow economically and socially, unlike the west and some eastern nations that are developed. This also means that even though law and order are present, it’s conceivable that your life would be at risk, especially when you have governments that don’t govern every space in that country.
Recently, in December of 2018, the Pope and the Vatican announced that Vietnam will become the one-hundred and eighty-fourth nation to set up diplomatic relations.
“We are committed to set up a mission in Hanoi,” claimed the Holy See press office.
The Holy See also has a permanent spot at the United Nations. In 2018a representative of the Holy See, Archbishop Bernadito Auza, stood on the floor 100 times and spoke 85 times. Secretary of State for Relations, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, spoke 10 times, and Secretary of State for the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, spoke four times, leading its delegation at the Global Compact Talks in December.
The current Apostolic Nuncio to the United States is Christophe Pierre. The Holy See Nunciature is located in Washington DC.