By Andrea Tornielli
Cardinal Pietro Parolin described Pope Francis’ meeting this week with Apostolic Nuncios and Permanent Observers as having taken place in a simple, positive and fraternal atmosphere.
Asked to assess the encounter, Cardinal Parolin said “The balance sheet is certainly positive”.
He expressed his opinion that these meetings have a value in themselves because they are a moment of encounter between people who work with the same purpose, with the same spirit and in the service of the Church, and in particular of the Pope, “even if they do so at great distances from each other”.
He remarked on how the themes dealt with aroused much interest on the part of the participants, as manifested by the numerous interventions that took place.
Parolin also recalled a moment of “intense participation for the death of the apostolic nuncio to Argentina, Léon Kalenga, which saw us all united in prayer with the Holy Father during the celebration of the funeral”.
The Cardinal also pointed out that Pope Francis considers these meetings as so fruitful, that in 2013 he expressed his desire they be held every three years, thus the tradition continues.
Decalogue of dos and don’ts
Regarding the content of the Pope’s address to the nuncios during which he issued a series of recommendations, some of which were seen by the media as reprimands, Cardinal Parolin noted that the media are always on the look-out for anything that might appear to contain controversy.
He said he doesn't personally believe that one should limit oneself to focusing only on some aspects of a whole, and he pointed out that during his words of greeting to the Pope, he expressed the openness of those present to receive “every encouragement and also every correction that can serve to improve our service to the Church, to the Pope and to mankind”.
So, Parolin said, in this sense the Pope’s words must be read in a positive context, just as they were “welcomed and experienced by the participants".
Unity, freedom, love
Regarding the part of his speech in which the Pope said a nuncio is called to be a "man of God", a representative of the Church and of the Pontiff, thus it is inherently incompatible with his mission to “criticize the Pope, write blogs or join groups that are hostile to the Pope and to the Church”, Cardinal Parolin said there can never be a total uniformity of thought, and that there are issues that need to be discussed as upheld by the ancient axiom that says in necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas ("unity in necessary things; freedom in doubtful things; love in all things").
He pointed out that as representatives of the Pope the nuncios feel free to say things to the Pontiff and, he said, Pope Francis is very open and well-disposed to receive comments, observations and reflections on various questions.
At the same time, he said, “we must try to maintain unity, which is the condition for the effectiveness of our action in the world”.
“We will be all the more effective if we are really united in the fundamental things. Therefore, above all as pontifical representatives, we must have this unity with the Pope and this adherence to his teaching that must then be translated concretely into attitudes of sharing his thought and his direction,” he said.
Finally, Cardinal Parolin described the part of dialogue that took place behind closed doors as very “open and frank.”
He said various topics were addressed and said the nuncios appreciated the Pope’s input “because he was not afraid to tackle delicate themes, talking about them with much frankness and openness”.