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18 JUNE 2001. VOLUME 33. NUMBER 03. 4 PAGES_ 

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Response of His Excellency Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with the States after his conferment of the Degree Doctor of Humanities in International Relations (honoris causa) by DLSU-Manila, on June 5, 2001.

A question that is often raised is why is there a
papal diplomacy?


In fact, it is many times posed in the context of another question: Why do the Anglican Community and the Orthodox Church, for example, not have a similar diplomatic service?

The answer is found in the nature of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is not a multinational enterprise. Rather, it is essentially and primarily a communion of believers. When Jesus of Nazareth founded his Church, he intended that this communion would rest upon the service of a group of men in responsibility, his envoys, called apostles. One of them would be the head of this group, and as such he would have the special mission of assuring the orthodoxy of the faith and the unity of discipline in a Church that would spread all around the world. The head was named Peter, and he concluded his life as head of the Catholic community in Rome, where he died, crucified, in 64 or 67 of our era.

His successors to the See of Rome, the Popes, assumed the same responsibilities: the same service to the unity of the Catholic Church which exists in every part of the world. Through the voice of the Pope, the Church speaks the same language and does so in the name of the universal community.

From the very beginning of the Church, the successors of the apostles (called Bishops) and the Popes have been confronted with the difficult task of reconciling the diverse cultures and lifestyles with the unity of faith and morals which mark the Church as Catholic. In fact, history shows us that in the early Church the Bishops in the Mediterranean area, when confronted with disputes, turned to the Bishop of Rome on several occasions to seek his mediation. Since the second century of our era, we have testimonies that the Popes settled these disputes and problems, thus securing the unity of the one Church. It is in this ecclesial and religious context that we have the first Ambassadors of the Popes.

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