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.
question that is often raised is why is there a
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.