"We cannot resign ourselves to the fact that the war in Ukraine will continue for a long time and, even if at the moment there seems to be no basis for any negotiations, we must keep alive the ideal of peace and the idea that this war will end, even if it will not be the end imagined by President Zelensky or President Putin. We want a just peace, but a peace must come, and to do this, if necessary, we must also begin to 'think the unthinkable.'"
Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States and International Organisations, made that observation on Thursday at a conference entitled: "The Weapons of Diplomacy. Dialogue between the Holy See and Europe in the face of war."
The event was organized by the network of Italian UNESCO chairs ReCui and held at Palazzo Altemps in Rome, which was also attended by former European Commission President, Romano Prodi.
Added value of mercy
The Holy See's diplomacy, according to Professor Alberto Melloni, the UNESCO Chair on Religious Pluralism and Peace, has the advantage, compared to other actors, of being able to operate without material considerations.
For his part, Archbishop Gallagher noted that the Holy See's diplomatic efforts have the added value of "mercy," the only thing capable of breaking the chains of hatred and revenge.
In this sense, he said, the Holy See works to bridge differences, always having the human person as the ultimate beneficiary.
For this reason, Archbishop Gallagher continued, the Pope commits his diplomacy to "getting its hands dirty" and committing himself in every possible way to peace.
“Peace must be concrete, flexible, and in the making, so that it is the link in a new virtuous process between the conflicting parties and not just an allocation of winners and losers.”
Preventing conflicts, not chasing events
At this stage in history, continued the Archbishop, most diplomacy chases after events and has lost what should be its essence, namely the ability to prevent conflicts.
"It should not be an expedient to stop conflicts with armed truces, but an instrument of preventive cohesion."
He noted that diplomacy must be a process that involves not only leaders and diplomats, but as many actors as possible, including religions.
A good example of this, he cited, is the upcoming trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan by Pope Francis, who will be accompanied by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
United Nations in crisis
Above all, the war in Ukraine has revealed a profound crisis in the multilateral system and the major international organisations, especially the United Nations.
Besides the avoidable deaths of many people, said Archbishop Gallagher, the biggest scandal of this war has been that Kyiv was bombed by a permanent member of the Security Council during the visit of UN Secretary General Guterres.
He expressed the Holy See's hope for a reform of the organisation's functioning, making it more representative and taking into account the needs of all peoples.
This requires the support of the entire international community and the recovery, as Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has often stressed, of the "Spirit of Helsinki".