Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations 

Gallagher: We have to keep the idea of a peace process alive

In an interview with Italian daily “La Stampa”, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, discusses the Holy See’s diplomatic efforts for peace in Ukraine, and its mission of fostering good relations between peoples and nations around the world.

By Christopher Wells

“The war in Ukraine will end at the negotiating table,” says Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, recalling the words of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. For this reason, Gallagher continued, the Holy See’s efforts “are aimed at trying to get to the negotiating table as soon as possible.”

The Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations made the remarks in an interview published Wednesday in the Italian newspaper La Stampa. With regard to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Archbishop Gallagher said the Holy See recognized the difficulties and sufferings of the Ukrainian people, but noted the complexity of the diplomatic situation. “We have to keep the idea of a peace process alive,” he said.

He noted that Pope Francis has been working for a peaceful resolution to the war since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, saying the Holy Father has been “continually evaluating ideas and proposals that could help ease tensions in the Ukrainian conflict and start paths to a just peace.” Asked about the forthcoming mission of Italian Cardinal Matteo Zuppi to Ukraine and Russia, Archbishop Gallagher explained that the specifics of the mission are still being studied, adding, “At the same time, we hope and pray for such a delicate mission, knowing that speed and timing are also very important.”

Relations with China and Iran

The Archbishop also responded to questions about the role of other nations in the conflict, and specifically about Russia’s relations with China and Iran. “The first consideration,” he said, “is the position of the Holy See that it is up to any nation, any actor, to do everything possible to end this war. We encourage everyone to do so.”

With regard to questions about human rights, Gallagher noted that when the Holy See speaks on these questions, it addresses “the entire international community.” While some statements may have particular relevance in certain questions, he explained that the Holy See does not speak out in “an aggressive way,” but instead prefers “to keep the door open even when it is a situation that can be very difficult for us.” At the same time, he pointed out that the Holy See’s primary concern was for “the well-being of the Christian and Catholic communities, and their freedom, and their lives.”

The need for trust

The interview concluded with a series of questions on the political situation in Israel and Palestine, with Archbishop Gallagher expressing concern about the increased violence in the region. “We regret this seems to be creating more obstacles to improving the political situation,” he said.

He insisted that “more work needs to be done to find a more political will” for Palestinians and Israelis to find a working compromise, adding, “I think most people agree, as experience tells us, that what is needed is the politics of small gestures, of confidence-building gestures, of gaining trust. What is missing in the world today between countries and leaders is trust, and we need to build it.

“At the moment I don't think we have it and I think the international community needs to work on that.”

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01 June 2023, 15:48