Delphine Allaire - Principality of Monaco
Cardinal Pietro Parolin celebrated Mass on Sunday morning at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in the Principality of Monaco. He expressed how it was an honor "of being the first Secretary of State of the Pope to do so". Cardinal Parolin arrived in the city-state on Saturday on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the elevation of the Diocese of Monaco to the rank of Archdiocese, which took place on July 30, 1981, through the Apostolic Bull of Saint John Paul II, following the signing the Agreement between the Holy See and the Principality of Monaco.
Caring for those wounded in body and spirit
In his homily, Cardinal Parolin recalled an event in the centuries-old history of the Principality of Monaco that "tells of how the Christian faith in this land has deep roots." It is by virtue of this faith that Christians, Cardinal Parolin urged, are called to care for their neighbors, especially the many "itinerants," "wounded in body," like the poor, the marginalized and migrants, but also those "wounded in spirit," such as all the "lonely people, wounded in soul by relationships gone wrong, failures and personal defeats." "Christian charity," the Cardinal said, "that has animated and built our Europe over the centuries flows from the abundance of God's mercy that in Christ is poured out in our lives and that commits us in turn to share in the lives of others.”
Meeting with clergy: "A growing secularism has led to social opposition"
On Sunday afternoon Cardinal Parolin opened the meeting with clergy, ecclesial movements and Catholic associations, highlighting the urgency of proclaiming the faith, exercising charity, supporting families, and taking care of creation. He then recalled how we live in increasingly polarized and divided societies. And how "a certain type of secularism that has been consolidating in Europe, beginning with the French Revolution, has contributed to the development of a growing social opposition," since secularism claims to oust religion from the sphere of civic life, relegating it to a mere personal dimension.
But, Cardinal Parolin, warned that where the religious dimension is denied the “right to citizenship” in society, the harmonious development of civil society is weakened without its contribution. He expressed appreciation for the reality found in the Principality of Monaco, which shows that there can be a positive relationship between Church and State and more generally between civil and religious authorities. "A relationship in which each maintains its own dutiful autonomy," but one where they work together for the common good.
Collaboration between Monaco and the Holy See
Cardinal Parolin spoke to Vatican News during his visit to Monaco.
Your Eminence, what is the importance of your visit here in Monaco?
The Holy Father naturally wants to express his closeness to all the Churches, certainly he tries to do it personally through apostolic journeys, but also in other ways such as, for example, these contacts that the Secretary of State has with different social, political, ecclesial realities. I believe that this visit of mine is important to draw attention to the anniversary we are celebrating and above all to give encouragement. In fact, the visits I make are above all an encouragement to continue on the path of the Gospel, despite the difficulties. These are challenges I think the Church in Monaco also experiences. Even though there is a special relationship with the State, it is true that society is tending more and more to become de-Christianized, to move away from the principles of faith. So being here, on behalf of the Pope, is a way of saying go forward and try to fulfill your mission, in a reality that is different from others, perhaps richer and more affluent in ways, but that, precisely for this reason, needs the values of the Gospel.
In this context, how does the Holy See view this unique reality of Monaco having Catholicism as the State religion?
It is a historical legacy, a patrimony that in many other parts has been lost precisely because of the evolution of society, while here it has been maintained. The Holy See sees it as an opportunity for collaboration and recognition of the public role of religion.
How can the two States collaborate?
They can collaborate at the level of values on which they agree and, therefore, try to put these values at the foundation of social and political life. It is not about defending principles as it is holding up what we believe to be the fundamental condition for the preservation and promotion of the dignity of every human person. This is important. On the other hand, we can collaborate in the great projects of international cooperation that the Principality of Monaco has initiated and continues to undertake in assisting people in regions needing help. The Holy See is very committed to this, think for example of the issue of Covid and recovery: the Holy Father has set up a special commission. At this level, for example, we can work together, but also in many other areas where there are needs.