papal diplomacy

Pope Francis with Enrique Peña Nieto

An exploration of the Catholic Church's faith diplomacy and its impact on international relations.

The deceit of history consists in making us believe we live in the present; when in reality, history is all there is, and everything is but mere repetition. [...] Pope Francis, in delivering a message of hope, invoked the founding fathers of the European project, and exhorted European political leaders to follow their footsteps and that “Today more than ever, their vision inspires us to build bridges and tear down walls.”

Pope Francis visited the Greek island of Lesbos on Saturday, highlighting the plight of nearly 4,000 migrants, who, in the wake of the E.U.-Turkey deal, are in limbo waiting to see whether they’ll be granted asylum in Greece or be deported to Turkey. The Vatican also announced the Pope would bring 12 refugees, all of whom are Muslim, back with him to Italy. The Vatican is already hosting two refugee families.

When he became pope, there was some concern that Francis lacked experience with the wider world. He had traveled little outside of his native Argentina, his pastoral experience was rooted in a metropolis, Buenos Aires, and its shantytowns, addressing problems of everyday life — poverty, migration and human trafficking. No one expected him to become a global player. But Francis is also the first Jesuit pope. Over the centuries his religious order often waged its own diplomacy, acquiring extensive knowledge of other cultures. The training shows.

Pope Francis has responded to a moral crisis with a spectacular gesture that transcends all the niceties of correct procedure and inter-religious diplomacy. It has been announced that he and Patriarch Bartholomew, the Istanbul-based cleric who is “first among equals” in the eastern Orthodox church will visit the island of Lesbos, the epicentre of an international crisis triggered by an influx of refugees bent on reaching Europe. It seems this will happen on April 15th.

The Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York has paid “special homage” to “women who have had profound and lasting effects on the lives of millions of people and on the development of nations through their selfless and long-term work in education, healthcare and values formation among the young.”

Despite once claiming to be a technological dinosaur, Pope Francis has expanded his social media presence by joining Instagram, launching the new account with a picture of himself knelt in worship alongside the caption “pray for me”.

Pope Francis Visiting Korea, by the Republic of Korea

A look at the benefits and challenges of Vatican foreign policy.