Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher 

Archbishop Gallagher: Negotiations needed to stop wars

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, discusses the future of Europe and the world, along with the wars in Ukraine and the Holy Land, reiterating the Holy See's support for the two-state solution.

By Vatican News

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations, granted an interview to Italy's State-run TV, the RAI's TG1 news program, on Tuesday evening.

Among the topics discussed were the "terrible" attack in Moscow, the general instability in Europe and the world, and the insistence on "working for peace and trying to promote peace" in Ukraine through negotiation and with a defense that is not only with weapons but with agreements.

In addition, the interview touched on the risk of nuclear escalation.

In particular, the Archbishop discussed the Holy Land with hope in the "solution of two peoples, two states," and highlighted his sorrow for the "catastrophic" situation in Gaza.

He also spoke about Britain's Princess Kate Middleton and mentioned Pope Francis's health, whom he said appears "strong" and "very determined" but who probably these days "is trying to balance his efforts" ahead of the celebrations of Holy Week. But, he noted, the Pope "always manages to surprise us."

Returning from a trip to Montenegro and before that to Jordan, the British-born Archbishop commented on international current events expressing the viewpoint of the Holy See.

The Moscow attack

The interview with Ignazio Ingrao began with the recent attack in Moscow, which he called "terrible." The terrorist attack, he said, "must make us reflect," because "we see that there are elements in our societies that only want to destroy and cause suffering."

He indicated the real risk that the Moscow massacre could further inflame the global situation. "A country that suffers a trauma like this can also react very strongly, as Israel did after October 7th," he said.

All this instability, said Archbishop Gallagher, is "the result of a dissolution of an order that we thought we had established after the two world wars, after the Cold War where states resolved their conflicts by negotiating with each other, speaking, treating, and dialoguing."

Today it doesn't seem like there is that "attention to the rule of law" anymore, but rather "a lack of trust in our institutions," starting with the UN, OSCE, and Europe itself, "pillars of our world for many decades," which, however, "now cannot or do not seem able to cope with these serious challenges."

War in Ukraine

The focus then shifted to Ukraine and Pope Francis's recent appeal for negotiation.

"The Pope," the Archbishop said, "has always said that wars end on the negotiating table. I believe the Pope wanted to encourage the Ukrainian side to dialogue for the good of the country."

"At the same time," he continued, "I believe the Holy See has always been very clear with the Russian side, asking that they too send signals in this direction, starting with stopping launching missiles on Ukrainian territory. And the conflict, the armaments, and all the daily conflicts must cease."

Defense is not just a matter of weapons

Recalling the Pope's thoughts, Archbishop Gallagher responded to a question about the relaunch of the European defense project and asserted that "Europe must take responsibility for its defense," but at the same time, "defense is not just a matter of weapons," but rather "an integral defense," which "is done through institutions, promoting agreements among peoples."

On this note, the Secretary for Relations with States reiterated that "we must do everything to avoid a defeat of Ukraine," because that "would change things radically." What the Church, the Holy See, and the Pope insist on, he said, is "working for peace and trying to promote peace. You cannot think of reaching a solution with a victory or with a defeat."

The Archbishop also mentioned the risk nuclear escalation.

"This makes us understand that we must build a world without nuclear weapons and that actually, the possession of these weapons makes us more vulnerable and does not guarantee us security," he said.

The two-state solution for Israel and Palestine

Ample space in the interview is dedicated to the war in the Middle East, starting with the "disastrous," "catastrophic," and "terrible" situation in Gaza.

As the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, has already done on other occasions, Archbishop Gallagher also reiterated the solution of "two peoples, two states" for the future of Israel and Palestine.

This solution, he stated, requires "efforts" and "sacrifices," which seemed to have been set asidebut are not back on the table among the international community.

This "gives us some hope," said Archbishop Gallagher.

"The Holy See has always continued to insist on this solution, but for many, it was no longer considered possible. Now we see the great difficulties in the West Bank, the problem of the future of Gaza itself, but at least people now see that a political solution must be sought."

Regarding the West Bank, he noted, that the "huge problem" of Israeli settlers remains, perhaps "the biggest problem to be solved" in the future to stop the conflict.

There are no "magic solutions," he explained, given the "huge number of people" scattered throughout the territory and the "intensified" relationships. Even in this case, the Archbishop said, the way is to "speak and dialogue also with Israeli authorities" and seek solutions "for the benefit of all."

Resolution for the ceasefire in Gaza

The Archbishop recalled that Pope Francis' words return again and his insistence on the release of hostages, access to humanitarian aid, and the ceasefire. This last solution, at the moment, according to Archbishop Gallagher, appears impossible, but regardless, he insisted, we must work "so that the weapons fall silent, not in a few months, but now, in these days."

Archbishop Gallagher acknowledged that a new page has opened with the resolution for the ceasefire approved by the UN Security Council with the abstention of the United States.

According to the Archbishop, it is "a very strong message and an indication that the American administration need not always continue on the same positions, using its right of veto to block every action of the UN."

The resolution, he noted, shows that "the position of the overwhelming majority of the countries of the United Nations is to end this war, bring peace, and save what can be saved."

As for the drama of the Israeli hostages in the hands of Hamas, Archbishop Gallagher confirmed the various contacts of the relatives who "have asked us for help, and we try to do everything possible."

Renewing Palestinian Leadership

Speaking about Hamas, the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States asserted that the terrorist organization "has no future as a political entity."

"They too," he observed in the interview, "must renounce the destruction of the State of Israel. They too should have much more at heart the well-being of the Palestinian people."

According to Archbishop Gallagher, it is necessary to "renew Palestinian institutions" and "listen much more to the will of the people for the future," and their desire to express their "self-determination" when casting ballots.

Finally, the Archbishop reaffirmed the Holy See's absolute support for the Christians of Gaza, who are now "very few" and have become refugees in the Catholic parish with Orthodox and Muslims in a "dramatic" situation in terms of resources and daily survival.

Support for Princess Kate Middleton of Wales

Archbishop Gallagher also spoke about his visit to Montenegro on March 21-24, calling it a region that "finds itself in a delicate situation" and deserves "the attention of the international community."

In general, all these countries with a difficult past," he reflected, "are truly trying to move forward, promote themselves. Many have made the choice for Europe and deserve all our encouragement."

Archbishop Gallagher concluded by expressing his affection and prayers for the Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton, who in recent days announced that she has cancer.

"When one sees a human being in all their fragility, this cannot help but evoke all our affection and support."

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26 March 2024, 23:57