Cardinal Parolin: “A great sign of hope for Korea”

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Holy See Secretary of State

Cardinal Parolin: “A great sign of hope for Korea”

By Andrea Tornielli/ lastampa.it

Interview with the Secretary of State: concerns about Syria, patience in China's negotiations aimed only at the unity of the Church. “Alfie’s case caused me great sadness”.

High hopes for Korea and great concerns for Syria. Patience with the negotiations with China and the case of little Alfie Evans. After a lecture held in the Cathedral of Chioggia on the "Three Popes of 1978", first of a series of meetings organized by "Fondaco" on fatherhood, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, answered questions on the most topical issues.

How do you see the prospects for peace in Korea?
"After the risk of a possible nuclear conflict, a great hope has been kindled. According to an analysis that I have read in these days, President Kim Jong-un has used his country's nuclear war potential as a threat to force Americans to negotiate in order to bring North Korea out of its isolation and above all to start the economic growth that the country so badly needs".

Do you agree with this analysis?
"I don't know if it can be fully shared, he would be a great strategist... But experts say that Kim Jong-un really seems to be serious, and that the offer of dialogue is not just a bluff. The path is very delicate, an obstacle course, but the fact that they decided to negotiate, without continuing with the escalation of rocket launches, is a sign of hope. Also from China, which supports this dialogue. The same North Korean president is now said to be in favour of de-nuclearizing the peninsula, which would mean defusing a potentially explosive situation that really risks causing enormous damage".

At what stage are the Holy See's negotiations with the Chinese government?
"Dialogue has been going on for a long time, with a lot of patience and with successes and failures. Someone said: it is like the "dance of Saint Vito", two steps forward and one step back. Anyway, we are proceeding, this is important.
There are those who wonder why the Vatican deals with a communist government that denies religious freedom...
"If the government were not Communist and respected religious freedom, there would be no need to negotiate. Because we would already have what we wish for".

What is the Church’s goal in this negotiation?
"Our goal is not a political one. We have been accused of wanting only diplomatic relations in the hopes of whatever success. But the Holy See, as the Pope has said several times, is not interested in any diplomatic success. We are interested in spaces of freedom for the Church, so that she can live a normal life that is also in communion with the Pope. This communion is fundamental for our faith".

What will be the main subject of the agreement?
"It is fundamental that the Church be united, that the official community, subject to the control of the government, and the so-called underground community - which today each walk their own path - be united. Already Benedict XVI in his Letter to Chinese Catholics had said that the purpose of all work in China must be that of communion between the two communities, and of communion of the whole Chinese Church with the Pope. We hope that an agreement can be reached especially over the nomination of bishops. And we hope that the agreement will then be respected. We have the will to do so and we hope that the Chinese government also have this same will".

A few days ago, the world appeared on the brink of a new world war, with the rocket attack on Syria. How does the Vatican look at that situation?
"With great concern. Many times, during this war - that has been going on for six years - the Pope has addressed appeals to the international community and to all the protagonists. It is a tragic and intricate affair. There is a local level, the contrast between President Assad’s regime and the opposition. There is a regional clash, especially between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. And then there are the great powers which, in turn, have intervened, initially united against ISIS, against the Islamic fundamentalism which had occupied parts of that territory. Then, after the so-called defeat of the Isis - on the territory it has been defeated, yet I don't think it has been on the ideological level - the great powers split apart and began to fight among each other".

The number of civilian massacres is striking...
"We have witnessed a total disregard for human rights, with thousands and thousands of civilians involved in the war, used as hostages or human shields. A complete destruction of human rights. And even of war rights, because also in war not everything is allowed".

What is the way to resolve the conflict?
"We have always said that there is no possibility of a military solution. Europe has recently met in Brussels to discuss about Syria, and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, conveyed this very message. However, solutions struggle to take off. The regime is convinced that it can win militarily, especially after the intervention of the Russians, who helped Assad to regain many parts of the Country’s territory, weakening the Geneva negotiations. And then also because the negotiations are taking place on different tables: Geneva is the main one, but then there have been other initiatives, in Astana, in Sochi ...".

Too many negotiating tables?
"I don't know whether these initiatives help to advance the diplomatic and peaceful solution or if they risk moving its perspective further and further away. I believe that - we have told the protagonists so many times – even if we were to win the war militarily, peace will not be automatic, because the country will be left with so much hatreds, so many contrasts, so many divisions".

One last question: what do you think about little Alfie Evans’s case?
"It caused me an enormous sadness: in the face of a willingness, so openly expressed, so many times, and with such great commitment of means - the doctors of our Children's Hospital Jesus went three times to Liverpool - there was a refusal to allow Alfie to be taken to Italy. That is incomprehensible. This was what struck me the most, it upset me. I cannot understand why. Or perhaps there is a reason, and it follows a terrible logic. The Pope and the Holy See have tried to do everything possible to help the family and to ensure that the child is accompanied during the course of his illness, despite the unfortunate prognosis".

The case sparked a heated debate
"In these situations, everyone shouts, trying to pull water to their mill. Now that the case is closed, and the media will forget about it quickly, we need to reflect quietly. These cases will happen again. All together, from different points of view, but also with the contribution of believers, we should try to give a truly human response to these situations, based on love for the person, respect for their dignity and unrepeatability. We hope that it will be possible to do so, and that the discussion will not end without giving it some further thought, ready scuffle again once the next case occurs".

Sat, 04/28/2018 - 17:59
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