Cardinal Parolin: Russia’s absence at Summit for Peace in Ukraine a limitation

On the sidelines of an event at the Italian Senate dedicated to peacemaking Cardinal Parolin comments on the high-level Conference for Peace in Ukraine that was held over the weekend.

Jun 20, 2024

Cardinal Parolin at the Summit on Peace in Ukraine (ANSA)

By Salvatore Cernuzio
Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, upheld the high-level Conference for Peace in Ukraine held in Switzerland over the weekend, describing it as “useful”, but with “the limitation, noted by many of the participants, of not having Russia’s presence.”

“Peace is always made together,” he said.

Cardinal Parolin was speaking on the sidelines of an event dedicated to peacebuilding at the Italian Summit on Wednesday, 19 June. His comments referred to the conference in Lucerne, Switzerland where he headed the Vatican delegation that was present as an observer.

Just peace and the principle of fraternity
"I heard  from many – and I liked  – that we are not at war with Russia, we are here to find a way to peace between Russia and Ukraine," the cardinal said, reiterating the importance of the adjective "just" associated with the word peace: "A just peace... that is based on the principles of international law and strict adherence to the UN Charter."

This, the cardinal continued, must be accompanied by "the principle of fraternity, a meta-legal principle that finds concrete applications also in ordinances. If we do not make the effort to feel like brothers in this world, we will never be able to overcome conflicts."

Lack of trust
The "great problem we face today," according to the Vatican Secretary of State, connected to the fact that"international organizations work little or not at all," is "the absolute lack of mutual trust": "We no longer trust each other, and that's why conventional and nuclear arsenals are increasing. Everyone wants to make sure they are protecting themselves from the other, whom they no longer trust and respect."

Economic interests fuelling the arms trade
Behind the arms trade there are "great economic interests at stake," the cardinal stated, echoing Pope Francis' words. They are the words that governments and political parties seem not to hear: when marketing criteria guide groups and governments, "it is logical that the Pope can rightly call for a stop to the proliferation of arms, but certainly, this appeal will not be heard," Cardinal Parolin said.

"The Pope is courageous because he continues to insist. It is a theme upon which he repeatedly insists, and we hope that little by little, he can make a dent," he added.

Arms to Ukraine
When asked about the debate among political forces in Italy on sending arms to Ukraine, the Secretary of State emphasized that "the only way to solve this problem is to come together and start talking without conditions; only then the sending of arms can also be stopped."

However, the Vatican Secretary of State said, the first step is "to be able to start negotiations between the two parties [Russia and Ukraine] even in a very discreet and confidential manner. That the two parties begin to talk to each other."

So yes, he said, the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin at a hypothetical dialogue table is most certainly to be contemplated: "Peace is made by both; otherwise, if one is missing, there can be no peace."

Implementation of differentiated autonomy without creating imbalances

Cardinal Parolin also touched on the issue of “differentiated autonomy,” which is a law in Italy. The cardinal – who has spoken on the subject in the past – did not take part in the debate: "We should not comment on such issues; they are Italian; we do not have the specific competence to intervene."

However, he emphasized that "anything that helps foster solidarity is good."

Visit to Lebanon
Lastly, Parolin confirmed his visit to Lebanon, which, as anticipated by Lebanese media, should take place at the end of June.

It is not a diplomatic visit, nor a mission for peace in the Holy Land, in light of recent tensions with Israel that seem to shift the axis of conflict in the Middle East.

"I was invited time back by the local Order of Malta to visit their works, which have a great social impact in a situation of total crisis. The Lebanese crisis is 360°, and certainly, there we will try to work a little to help, as the Holy See's diplomacy has always done, to find an institutional solution."

Hope for fruits of peace
After the meeting at the Senate Cardinal Parolin participated in an event, together with Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, with a multi-faceted programme dedicated to humanitarian and ethical issues.

On this occasion, he again engaged in conversation regarding peace.

"Any situation where there is the danger that conflicts will widen, deepen, and fester can only produce great unease," the Vatican Secretary of State said answering a question about the implications of an Israeli offensive in Lebanon.

"The visit was planned,” he explained, “not linked to the political situation, but it will have a diplomatic dimension."

Cardinal Parolin expressed his hope that recent events, including the Pope’s participation at the G7 Summit and his presence at the Peace Conference in Switzerland, "may leave something... That the sowing that has been done may bear fruit."

Speech at the Senate
In his intervention at the Senate event Cardinal Parolin appealed to all Christians: "In this time marked by war, it is urgent that they take to heart the cause of peace."

"The skies of many nations are darkened by the clouds of wars that prevent people from living in harmony," the cardinal emphasized, adding that "We witness the proliferation of new trenches in our world and the tendency to stiffen in ideological positions"; therefore, there is a need for a commitment to "sensitize those who administer justice and politics to act consistently, inspired by the Gospel and ethical principles."

He expressed his belief that it is  necessary to start educating young people "to a culture of inclusion, avoiding the temptation of the logic of exclusion and prejudices and stereotypes that fuel hostility."

"Our destiny," he said, "is not death but life, not hatred but fraternity, not conflict but harmony (…) Peace is the star that illuminates and guides the fate of the whole earth. May the weapons that offend God and violate human dignity fall from our hands."--Vatican News

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