Parolin expresses closeness to Cardinal Zen and desire to dialogue with China
By Salvatore Cernuzio
The recent arrest and release on bail of Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun in Hong Kong, the issue of sending arms to Ukraine, the Holy See's efforts in for peace and the evacuation of civilians in Mariupol, and relations with the Moscow Patriarchate were commented on by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, on Friday.
He spoke to reporters on the sidelines of an event at the Pontifical Gregorian University organized by the John Paul I Vatican Foundation.
Cardinal Zen's arrest in Hong Kong and Holy See's concern
The Secretary of State said he was “very saddened” by the arrest of Cardinal Joseph Zen on Wednesday in Hong Kong.
“I would like to express my closeness to the cardinal, who was freed and treated well." Cardinal Parolin said the event should not be read as “a disavowal” of the agreement between the Holy See and the People's Republic of China on the appointments of bishops, originally agreed in 2018 and later extended for an additional two years.
Cardinal Parolin said, “The most concrete hope is that initiatives such as this one will not complicate the already complex and not simple path of dialogue.”
Archbishop Gallagher’s mission in Kyiv
The Cardinal Secretary of State turned his thoughts to the war in Ukraine, just a few days before the visit of the Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, to Kyiv.
The Archbishop's mission, Cardinal Parolin explained, will serve to reiterate the objectives for which the Vatican Secretariat of State “has been working and is working as much as possible, because the spaces are very confined”; namely, “a ceasefire” as “a fundamental starting point” and that “the war operations be ended.”
The hope, said the Cardinal, is that “a serious dialogue will begin, without pre-conditions, in which we will try to find a way to resolve this problem.”
Sending arms to Ukraine
Cardinal Parolin also addressed the sensitive issue of sending arms to Ukraine.
He reiterated the position already expressed throughout the almost 80 days since the war began, namely that “there is a right to armed defence in the event of aggression”, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church also states, but “under certain conditions”.
The first, the Cardinal emphasised, is “that of proportionality, then the fact that the response does not produce greater damage than the aggression. In this context,” he said, “we speak of a ‘just war’.”
He added, “I understand that in concrete terms it is more difficult to determine this, but we need to have some clear parameters in order to deal with the issue of weapons in the most just and moderate way possible.”
Find solutions first
Quoting a comment on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which he heard on Thursday and with which he agrees, the Cardinal said: “Eventually they will have to find a solution, because geography forces them to live not together but close to one another, they share many thousands of kilometres of border.”
He said, “It is a pity that we still have not understood the lesson that instead of committing all this slaughter and producing all this rubble, solutions could have been found sooner,” which, he continued, “the Holy See has always hoped for.”
According to Cardinal Parolin, the problem is that “in recent decades the theme of multilateralism has eroded." So, he said, “it is logical that when everyone focuses on their own interests, on their own point of view, and does not know how to share and find common answers, in the end these are the outcomes.”
Italian government's proposal for peace negotiations
As for the peace negotiations proposed by the Italian government, Cardinal Parolin said that the initiative proposed by Prime Minister Mario Draghi “is to be supported”; and he reiterated that for the Holy See “any attempt that could lead to the conclusion of the war is welcome.”
“We do not want to take the lead,” he clarified. “If others manage to do what the Holy See is unable to do because its offer of mediation or intervention has not been accepted, very well.”
Wives of Ukrainian soldiers asking Pope for help
Asked again by journalists about the Pope's recent meeting with the wives of two fighters of the Azov Battalion, barricaded in the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, Cardinal Parolin explained, “We had expressed our willingness to be guarantors for the evacuation of the remaining civilians, but then nothing was done. At least I haven't heard that there was any follow-up...”.
He said there had been many attempts in recent weeks, adding, “This was the latest”.
“We had also previously made ourselves available, with the Nuncio himself there was even the idea of going together with the Metropolitan of Zaporizhzhia, but in fact there was no further action because no security guarantees were given for the mission.”