At the time, I really didn't feel like going through and talking about it, but I asked a couple of questions for readers to think about. They were:
But would that be the best method of getting across the Catholic message in an institutional way? Aside from the historical and traditional points surrounding the Papal States, Vatican City and the juridical status of the Holy See, diplomatic status does have its benefits for the Pope's nuncios.
Now, the secretary for relations with states, Archbishop Mamberti, has responded in the Italian bishops' newspaper Avvenire. His reply to The Economist's piece has been translated and quoted by Sandro Magister at www.chiesa for our edification.
“This is certainly not an acceptable invitation! It may have arisen from an imprecise understanding of the Holy See’s position in the international community: a position that can be traced back to the beginning of the international community itself, and has been reinforced above all since the end of the nineteenth century.
“With the disappearance of the Papal States, it has, in fact, become increasingly more clear that the Holy See’s international juridical personality is independent of the criterion of territorial sovereignty. This situation is accepted tranquilly by the international community both on the bilateral level – I recall that there are almost 180 countries that maintain diplomatic relations with the Holy See – and on the multilateral level, as shown in particular by the UN general assembly resolution 58/314 of 2004, which expanded the range and prerogatives of the Holy See’s action as a permanent observer at the UN.
“Behind the invitation to reduce itself to a non-governmental organization, apart from a lack of understanding of the Holy See’s juridical status, there is probably also a reductionist vision of its mission, which is not sectarian or linked to special interests, but is universal and inclusive of all the dimensions of man and humanity.
“This is why the Holy See’s activity within the international community is often a ‘sign of contradiction’, because it does not cease to raise its voice in defense of the dignity of each person and of the sacredness of all human life, above all the most vulnerable, and in defense of the family founded upon marriage between one man and one woman. It does not cease to assert the fundamental right to religious freedom, and to promote relations among individuals and peoples founded upon justice and solidarity.
“In carrying out its international role, the Holy See is always at the service of the comprehensive salvation of man, according to Christ’s commandment. It comes as no surprise that there are some who seek to diminish the resonance of its voice!”
Magister goes on with various facts and figures and he makes the argument that this move is meant to silence the Holy See. It can be all for peace in Burundi, but on the topics of abortion or euthanasia, it ought to be silent and so on. Magister notes though that the Holy See has relations with almost two-hundred states and they in the form of the General Assembly of the UN have only strengthened the Holy See's position in that body.