The Vatican and the New World Order

While the Holy See no longer exercises the temporal power it once did, [1] it is still a major player on the world stage. Papal representatives have long been spread throughout the world, [2] and, in the past 150 years, the Holy See has shown no desire to pull back.

In a span of less than 50 years, there was work of mediation undertaken to prevent the Franco-Prussian war (1870), arbitration in the dispute between Germany and Spain about the right to possess the Caroline Islands (1885), intervention in the controversy between Great Britain and Portugal concerning the frontiers of the Congo (1890), arbitration in the dispute between Peru and Ecuador over frontiers (1893), mediation, proposed by Great Britain and Venezuela, in order to define the frontiers of Guiana (1894), arbitration in a border conflict between Haiti and Santo Domingo (1895), an appeal made to the Emperor Menelik of Ethiopia on behalf of the Italian prisoners of war (1896), an intervention to prevent war between Spain and the United States over Cuba (1898), arbitration in the dispute between the Argentine and Chile on the determination of frontiers (1900-1903), an agreement between Colombia and Peru to submit to papal arbitration all future disputes, except those which concerned national independence and honor, not capable of immediate solution (1905), arbitration on the determination of frontiers in the dispute between Colombia and Ecuador (1906), arbitration over the possession of gold deposits in the dispute between Brazil and Bolivia, and between Brazil and Peru (1909-1910), and arbitration offered to the Argentine, Brazil and Chile (1914). [3] The Church was also a great friend to the persecuted Armenians in this time. [4]

After the world wars, there was an increased push for greater international cooperation. According to declassified U.S. government documents, “[Ambassador Myron] Taylor expressed the view that in the post-war period a real effort must be made to establish a world organization, for, with modern means of communication, the world has become small and no nation can safely separate itself from the rest of the world. His Excellency suggested that this new world organization might be formed somewhat along the lines of the League of Nations, but with wider participation and with the necessary power to enforce its decisions. Mr. Taylor stressed the importance of this power of enforcement, explaining that without it there is no assurance that any world organization will function properly or be able to guarantee enduring peace or justice. Cardinal [Luigi] Maglione, mentioning that the League of Nations had, indeed, failed in its task, agreed that the solution of the great problem seems to lie in the direction of world organization and that some kind of an international police force might be the best guarantee, once a just and equitable peace has been concluded. … Considerable thought is being given too, Mr. Taylor said, to the eventual establishment of an international court, which could be called upon to give an unbiased decision in the many minor disputes between nations – disputes which, because they are not settled, often lead to more violent disagreements and even to war. Cardinal Maglione approved of the plan.” [5] Pope Pius XII was presented with “an authorized copy of the proposed Dumbarton Oaks Plan for an international organization. In his last allocution the Pope explained the need for and supported such a plan (September 1, 1944)* and did [the ambassador] the honor to attribute his reference to it to [his] personal suggestion. The Pope really laid the groundwork for unconditional surrender and rebuilding of a better temporal State.” [6] The ambassador also “touched upon the possibility of a ‘European Commonwealth of Nations’, first on a restricted European grouping of the Eastern European States west of Russia and east of Germany, and second on a complete European Union, excluding, of course, Russia and Great Britain. The general allusion to this often debated question called for an exhibition of great interest on the part of His Holiness.” [7]

Pope St. Paul VI said, “…the Holy See…holds a very high conception of [the U.N.]; it considers it to be the fruit of a civilization to which the Catholic religion, with its driving centre in the Holy See, gave the vital principles; it considers it an instrument of brotherhood between nations, which the Holy See has always desired and promoted, and hence a brotherhood intended to favour progress and peace among men; it considers the United Nations as the steadily developing and improving form of the balanced and [unified] life of all humanity in its historical and earthly order.” [8] This is not to say that the United Nations cannot be reformed, [9] or that U.N. committees do not sometimes issue stupid statements, [10] but opposition to all “globalism” is nonsensical for the Catholic. [11] Centuries ago, “People still clung to the idea that the object of diplomacy ought to be peace, instead of being resigned to regarding it as simply the lesser of two evils, the pursuit of the objectives of war by other means. The fifteenth century was no more ready to accept the sacred egotism and moral irresponsibility of the sovereign state than our society accepts the sacred egotism and moral irresponsibility of the sovereign individual.” [12]

In the past few decades, the Church has continued to prove itself to the international political community in opposition to excessive armament, [13] in the Lebanese Civil War [14] and the 1986 Filipino Revolution, [15] and even more recently in Cuba [16] and in its defense of those persecuted in the Middle East, [17] and in all of its charity work. [18] The Church commands respect. [19] The Holy See has a moral authority recognized as unique. [20] After it was decided that the Vatican’s flag was to be raised at the United Nations in 2015, “The Vatican’s ambassador made clear that it was at the United Nations’ behest that the flag was being raised.” [21] “Monsignor Robert Vitillo, Secretary General of the Geneva-based International Catholic Migration Commission, told Crux that when the Holy See would address the body, all participating countries would stop to listen. Not only was such a response rare in his view, he went on to recall one session where he overheard a delegate remark ‘I could hug the Holy See,’ after their intervention. ‘You don’t hear that very often,’ he added.” [22]

The list of those who (literally) kissed the ring of Pope Benedict XVI includes leaders as diverse as Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, Surinamese President Ronald Venetiaan, Peruvian President Alan García, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. [23] At Pope Francis’ inauguration, there were 132 official delegations, including six sovereign rulers, 31 heads of state, three princes, and 11 heads of government. [24] “His Holiness is probably the only person who has to put up with more protocol than me,” President Barack Obama said in 2014. [25]

The Holy See is able to muster considerable strength. “Before the 1994 UN Conference on population and development in Cairo, the pope orchestrated a full court press against abortion involving the Vatican diplomatic service, the Roman curia, and bishops around the world. Before the conference, all the ambassadors to the Holy See in Rome were called in to have the Vatican’s position explained to them by the Secretariat of State. The pope also wrote every head of state. Each office in the Roman curia was told to emphasize family issues since 1994 was also the international year of the family. Many dicasteries issued statements on family issues, and the pope wrote a letter to families. Bishops’ conferences around the world were asked to pressure their governments to oppose pro-abortion language in the Cairo document. Nuncios also worked at developing alliances with Muslim and Catholic countries that opposed abortion.” [26] As a result of the Vatican’s efforts then and since, there is no international “right” to abortion.

It can be easy for Catholics to be cynical, but there is much about which to be pleased. So great is the Church’s ability to persuade that Hillary Clinton both felt the need to pay a visit to Cardinal Timothy Dolan in the month before declaring her 2016 presidential candidacy [27] and, to explain her loss, cited “a recent academic study about why people who had voted for Obama once did not vote for [her]”, which she said identified as one of “three major issues” a fake story which said that “Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump” (a story which she called “laughable” but believable to “low-information voters”, “people who aren’t following [the news] closely”). [28]

1. Count Joseph de Maistre, The Pope (translated by Rev. Æneas McD. Dawson, 1850), p. 189-190: “Voltaire has written a long chapter to prove that the Popes bestowed all the kingdoms of Europe with the consent of the kings and the people. He quotes a king of Denmark saying to the Pope, in 1329, ‘The kingdom of Denmark, as you know, Most Holy Father, depends only on the Roman Church, to which it pays tribute, and not to the Empire.’ Voltaire continues these same details in the following chapter, and then, with astonishing depth of reasoning, writes in the margin, ‘Great proof that the Popes gave away kingdoms.’ For once I am quite of his opinion. The Popes gave away all kingdoms, therefore they gave away all kingdoms. This is undoubtedly one of the finest reasonings of Voltaire. … There is nothing so piquant as to find the Popes justified by their accusers, who have no suspicion of what they have done. Listen again to Voltaire: ‘Every prince,’ says he, ‘who wished to usurp or recover a domain, applied to the Pope, as to his master…….No new prince dared to style himself sovereign, and could not be recognized as such by the other princes, without the permission of the Pope; and the ground of the whole history of the middle ages is always that the Popes believe themselves lords paramount of all the states, without a single exception.'”

2. Hyginus Eugene Cardinale (The Holy See and the International Order, ISBN 0-900675-60-8, p. 63): “Representatives of the papacy, bearing the name of Vicarius Apostolicae Sedis, were found in the remotest Christian provinces as far back as 380, long before the exercise of temporal power. The aim of their mission was merely a religious one: its sole purpose was to preserve the unity of all Christians under the spiritual sovereignty of the papacy, which was not yet directly involved in things political. These emissaries were resident bishops. Besides their ordinary jurisdiction, they enjoyed special faculties over the other bishops in the territory assigned to them. They exercised the right of internal legation, in a manner more or less analogous to that of the apostolic delegates of our own day. Pope Damasus I (366-384) seems to have appointed the first apostolic vicar, Ascholius, Bishop of Thessalonia, in 383 in Eastern Illyria. In the West there were apostolic vicars at Seville, Tarragona, Toledo, Arles, Rheims, Vienne (France), Canterbury and Sicily. This institution was maintained until the XIth century.”

3. Hyginus Eugene Cardinale, footnote on p. 89

4. Andrea Gagliarducci, “Vatican archives shed light on tragedy of Armenian genocide”, 20 March 2015 (https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/vatican-archives-shed-light-on-tragedy-of-armenian-genocide-30124). See also: Asbarez, “Pope Francis Reaffirms Genocide Recognition”, 12 April 2015 (http://asbarez.com/133961/pope-francis-reaffirms-genocide-recognition/).

5. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/PSF/BOX51/a466o04.html. At the Vatican, there was “doubt in their minds that the Axis [could] win the war, and a greater confidence that the United Nations [would] win the war”, and the Vatican was supportive of that (http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/PSF/BOX52/a467g01.html).

6. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/PSF/BOX53/a471h11.html

7. http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/PSF/BOX52/a469ad09.html

8. To the Secretary General of the United Nations Organization, 11 July 1963 (http://w2.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/speeches/1963/documents/hf_p-vi_spe_19630711_u-thant.html). Hyginus Eugene Cardinale wrote, “…Francisco Suarez (1548-1617), professor at Coimbra, in his monumental Tractatus de Legibus ac Deo Legislatore (Treatise on Laws and on God as Lawgiver) published in 1612, further developed Catholic thinking on the need for an organised political community and world authority, in the absence of which leaders of nations resolved their differences with other States by violent means. He was the first who endeavoured to found a law between the States on the fact that they constitute a community of States (vol. ii. C. 19, n. 8). The United Nations recognised his contribution in this connexion by inscribing [a] quotation from his works on the wall of the Salle du Conseil of the Palais des Nations at Geneva…” (p. 248).

9. “In 2009, while presenting to the press the encyclical Caritas in veritate, Stefano Zamagni, economist and consultor of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, affirmed that ‘there is already a proposal for a second assembly of the United Nations (being the present General Assembly not sufficient) with representatives of co-ops, civil society and Churches’.” (Andrea Gagliarducci, “Holy See promotes a reform of the United Nations”, 12 March 2012, http://www.mondayvatican.com/holy-see/holy-see-promotes-a-reform-of-the-united-nations-and-invites-ban-ki-moon-to-discuss-about-it-in-rome). “[Cardinal Pietro] Parolin also said he’d be open to see Pope Francis lead a sort of interreligious United Nations, as former Israeli President Shimon Peres suggested in 2014. Although he hasn’t received a concrete directive on the matter, Parolin said that ‘it’s important that religions intervene to favor peace in a visible and active way.'” (Inés San Martín, “Pope’s top diplomat says defend Christians, but not for religious reasons”, 12 March 2015, https://cruxnow.com/church/2015/03/12/popes-top-diplomat-says-defend-christians-but-not-for-religious-reasons/).

10. Claire Giangravè, “UN committee blasts Italy for complicity in Church’s abuse scandals”, 12 February 2019 (https://cruxnow.com/church-in-europe/2019/02/12/un-committee-blasts-italy-for-complicity-in-churchs-abuse-scandals/)

11. The Josias, “World Government is Required by Natural Law”, 24 June 2015 (https://thejosias.com/2015/06/24/world-government-is-required-by-natural-law/)

12. Dr. Garrett Mattingly, Renaissance Diplomacy (Penguin Books, 1964 edition), p. 44

13. Carol Glatz, “Killer robots will make war even more inhumane, Vatican official says”, 13 April 2018 (http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2018/04/13/killer-robots-will-make-war-even-more-inhumane-vatican-official-says/). “More than 50 years of papal and Catholic social teaching against nuclear weapons has given moral weight to a worldwide non-proliferation effort, said a US disarmament expert [(Rose E. Gottemoeller)] who visited the Vatican…” (Catholic News Service, “US official says Church stand on nuclear weapons has aided disarmament”, 13 April 2015, http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2015/04/13/us-official-says-church-stand-on-nuclear-weapons-has-aided-disarmament/).

14. Dr. Alexander Henley, “Politics of a Church at War” (https://www.academia.edu/170612/Politics_of_a_Church_at_War_Maronite_Catholicism_in_the_Lebanese_Civil_War), p. 359-360: “The guiding principles according to which the Vatican approached the Lebanese problem were (1) that the 1943 National Pact formula of coexistence should be preserved in the interests of Christians throughout the Muslim world, and of dialogue more generally; and (2) that the Palestinians should not suffer a ‘new injustice in Lebanon’ (Osservatore della Domenica, 2 October 1975, cited in Irani, 1986: 102). To these ends the Holy See mobilized its considerable diplomatic resources. According to one official of the Roman curia, the apostolic nunciature in Lebanon ‘was the most political nunciature in the world’ (Irani, 1986: 143). … As well as acting through the permanent nunciature at Harissa, near Beirut, the Holy See dispatched a series of high-profile missions led by senior diplomats: Cardinal Paolo Bertoli (1975 and 1978); Archbishop Mario Brini (1976 and 1984); Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, Vatican Secretary of State (1980); Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (1985); and Archbishop Achille Silvestrini, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States (1986). The policy of the papacy, according to Cardinal Etchegaray, is to set itself ‘above, not outside, politics’ (Weigel, 1999: 506). Its position in Lebanon, therefore, transcended the factional interests of the combatant parties, seeking to exercise moral authority to moderate militancy, and maintain the trust of both sides through parity in mediation (Irani, 1986: 131).”

15. Religion, The Missing Dimension of Statecraft (edited by Douglas Johnston and Cynthia Sampson; ISBN 0-19-510280-0), p. 171: “…while it is possible only to speculate on what might have occurred had the Church not been involved, it is likely that the Enrile-Ramos revolt – and the subsequent capitulation of the military to the opposition – would have progressed differently had the Church not exercised its considerable moral and political authority in support of the rebels. Marcos relied on military backing to retain his office. Because of its impressive administrative and institutional resources, as well as its command of the moral high ground, the Church was instrumental in coalescing the opposition. Had it not done so, the military would have been faced with a bleak alternative to the overthrow of Marcos – probably an eventual showdown between it and the Communist party.”

16. Jim Yardley and Gaia Pianigiani, “Pope Francis Is Credited With a Crucial Role in U.S.-Cuba Agreement”, 17 December 2014 (https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/18/world/americas/breakthrough-on-cuba-highlights-popes-role-as-diplomatic-broker.html); Vatican Insider, “Becciu: ‘Cuba and US signed deal restoring diplomatic relations in Parolin’s presence'”, 18 September 2015 (http://www.lastampa.it/2015/09/18/vaticaninsider/becciu-cuba-and-us-signed-deal-restoring-diplomatic-relations-in-parolins-presence-VpLtepuSK3X1THzD5cyUNL/pagina.html).

17. “‘The Vatican is a very important partner,’ [Brian] Hook said, adding that the information provided by the Church on the ground in war-torn areas like Iraq and Syria is extremely useful in assessing the situations. He also hinted that Pope Francis’s ability to convene religious leaders from the Middle East, as he has shown in his ecumenical trip to the Southern Italian town of Bari July 7, has caught the attention of the State department.” (Claire Giangravè, “Official says US must lead if Middle East Christians are to survive”, 16 July 2018, https://cruxnow.com/interviews/2018/07/16/official-says-us-must-lead-if-middle-east-christians-are-to-survive/). See also: John L. Allen, Jr., “Vatican backs military force to stop ISIS ‘genocide'”, 13 March 2015 (https://cruxnow.com/church/2015/03/13/vatican-backs-military-force-to-stop-isis-genocide/); Andrea Gagliarducci, “How the Holy See is using diplomacy to aid Christians in the Middle East”, 8 April 2015 (https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/how-the-holy-see-is-using-diplomacy-to-aid-christians-in-the-middle-east-17526).

18. As of 2013, the Church ran 5,305 hospitals, 18,179 clinics, 70,544 kindergartens (preschools), 92,847 primary schools, 43,591 secondary schools, 18,179 dispensaries, 547 leper homes, 17,223 homes for the infirm, 9,882 orphanages, 11,379 baby childcare centers, 15,327 marriage counseling offices, 34,331 rehabilitation centers, and 9,391 other charitable institutions. (Andrea Gagliarducci, “Quantifying the Holy See’s Commitment To The Common Good”, 2 June 2013, http://www.mondayvatican.com/vatican/quantifying-the-holy-sees-commitment-to-the-common-good-at-the-23rd-session-of-the-human-rights-council)

19. British Ambassador Nigel Baker, “Holy See: The challenge of Pope Francis: A diplomatic perspective”, 4 March 2015 (https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/holy-see-the-challenge-of-pope-francis-a-diplomatic-perspective). “Given Pope Francis’ huge global impact, governments have to sit up and take notice. … Just the other day, the Wall Street Journal appointed its first ever full time correspondent to the Vatican. If ignoring the Pope’s messages on peace, poverty and the planet is not an option for the Wall Street Journal, it’s probably not an option for government either.”

20. Paolo Mastrolilli, “Ban Ki-moon: Pope Francis is a man of moral voice and purpose”, 11 September 2015 (http://www.lastampa.it/2015/09/11/vaticaninsider/ban-kimoon-pope-francis-is-a-man-of-moral-voice-and-purpose-xVaFY2bc41npy78uBOrc7H/pagina.html). See also: “UN secretary general to speak at interfaith Vatican meeting on climate change”, 14 April 2015 (https://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=24612).

21. AFP, “No fanfare for Vatican flag-raising at UN”, 21 September 2015 (https://www.yahoo.com/news/no-fanfare-vatican-flag-raising-un-192143301.html). The Holy See is also Observer to the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, the World Meteorological Organization, the International Labor Organization, the International Organization for Migration, and other bodies.

22. Christopher White, “Vatican lauded for role in UN deal on migration”, 6 August 2018 (https://cruxnow.com/global-church/2018/08/06/vatican-lauded-for-role-in-un-deal-on-migration/)

23. ROME REPORTS, “Ukraine’s Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko visits Pope”, 16 October 2009 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Td6ZyWY9Tzk); Vatican News, “Church and State Collaboration in Suriname”, 20 November 2009 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqmEE82ApUw); Vatican News, “Benedict XVI receives the President of Peru”, 30 November 2009 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDrz1Qi2A-Q); The Vatican – Archive, “Benedict XVI Receives Chilean President, Pinera”, 3 March 2011 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqRA2TCe13Q); ITALY Magazine, “Berlusconi meets with Pope Benedict XVI”, 7 June 2008 (https://www.italymagazine.com/italy/politics/berlusconi-meets-pope-benedict-xvi); Paul Haring, “Did Pelosi’s meeting with the pope really happen?”, 20 February 2009 (https://cnsblog.wordpress.com/2009/02/20/did-pelosis-meeting-with-the-pope-really-happen/); ROME REPORTS, “Pope greets U.S. defense secretary following general audience”, 16 January 2013 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8leaL_LGYA).

24. AP Archive, “Dignitaries from around the world at Pope Francis’ installation mass”, 31 July 2015 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QE25-nL0hzM)

25. Michael D. Shear and Jim Yardley, “An Exchange of Views, Some in Accord”, 27 March 2014 (https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/28/world/europe/president-obama-pope-francis.html). Philip Pullella and Jeff Mason, “Obama hears Vatican’s concerns over health care, invites Pope to US”, 27 March 2014 (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pope-obama/obama-hears-vaticans-concerns-over-health-care-invites-pope-to-us-idUSBREA2P0UE20140327): “‘You know, I will probably read [Evangelii Gaudium] in the Oval Office when I am deeply frustrated and I am sure that it will give me strength and calm me down,’ Obama said. The pope responded in English: ‘I hope’.”

26. Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J., Inside the Vatican (ISBN 0-674-93261-7), p. 263. The Holy See’s general reservations were noted in p. 59, 79, 119, 131, 143, 157, 165, 173, 198-202, and 278-280 of the Report (http://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/ICPD%20PoA%20English.pdf).

27. Amy Chozick, “Hillary Clinton Reaching Out to Catholics”, 20 March 2015 (https://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/03/20/hillary-clinton-reaching-out-to-catholics/)

28. ABC News (Australia), “Hillary Clinton warns of Chinese influence on Australian politics”, 14 May 2018 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWo7XOnN3r4)

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Matthew Olson is a student in the Diocese of Little Rock.

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Posted in Current, Historical, Politics

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