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Tuesday, November 15, 2005


VATICAN CITY, NOV 15, 2005 (VIS) - Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for Relations with States delivered a speech today at a congress promoted by the Polish embassy to the Holy See on the theme: "The Diplomacy of the Holy See in the Twentieth Century: Types of Concordats."

  Archbishop Lajolo began by recalling that "the first concordat of history is conventionally considered as being that of Worms in 1122. The 'Concordia' or 'Pax Wormatiensis' between Pope Callistus II and the Emperor Henry V put an end to the harsh controversy over the investiture of bishops, who at the time were also temporal princes and feudal lords."

  "It is to the beginning of the modern age that we can date the various concordats with sovereigns, who asserted their right to broad control over the organization and life of the Church, especially as regarded the appointment of ecclesiastical officials, beginning with diocesan bishops. In this sense, one emblematic concordat was that stipulated between Leo X and Francis I of France on August 18, 1516."

  The secretary for relations with States indicated that in the period between the French Revolution and the First World War, "the Church found herself facing a new kind of State, no longer confessional and, at times, no longer monarchical." A particularly important agreement from the beginning of this period, he said, is "the Convention between Pius VI and the French government of 1801, the so-called 'Napoleonic Concordat,' which regulated relations between Church and State in France."

  Later in his talk, Archbishop Lajolo turned to consider the period between Benedict XV (1914 - 1922) and Vatican Council II (1962 - 1965). The pontificate of Benedict XV "did not see the conclusion of many agreements," but in 1917 he promulgated the Code of Canon Law in 1917, and "the concordats and agreements of the following years had the aim of regulating Church life in various countries in accordance with the norms contained in that text."

  Under Pius XI, Archbishop Lajolo went on, the Lateran Pacts were signed (February 11, 1929), "which included the Concordat between the Holy See and Italy, and the Financial Convention." During the 19 years of the pontificate of Pius XII (1939 - 1958), "there was intense activity aimed at establishing concordats," including agreements with Portugal (1940), and with Spain (1953).

  "The pontificate of John XXIII (1958 - 1963) was especially marked by the opening of Vatican Council II," said Archbishop Lajolo, "which his successor Paul VI brought to a close." The conciliar teachings and resolutions "have, though, had a by no means irrelevant effect on the later diplomatic activity of the Holy See."

  He then went on the refer to the pontificates of Paul VI and Benedict XVI, highlighting how that of Paul VI (1963 - 1978) "represented a particularly intense season of concordance," during which more than 40 agreements were signed, the majority with Western European and Latin American countries, as well as one with the Republic of Tunisia (1964), the first with a Muslim country.

   Archbishop Lajolo recalled the Holy See's so-called "Ostpolitik," the partial agreements reached with: Hungary, through the Act of Protocol in 1964; Yugoslavia through the Protocol on conversations between the two parties (1966), and the exchange of letters concerning the appointment of unofficial permanent diplomatic representatives; and Poland (1974), to institutionalize bilateral working groups. "At this point, I cannot but pay deferential homage to the memory of Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, who was one of the principal architects of this phase of Holy See diplomacy," the archbishop said.

  During the 26 years of the pontificate of John Paul II (1978 - 2005), activity in this field was "extended to continents and countries with which, until then, there had been little contact." Archbishop Lajolo particularly mentioned the two agreements signed with Israel: the Fundamental Agreement of 1993, and the respective juridical recognition of Catholic institutions (1997). "As is known," the prelate added, "the Holy See hopes that, as both agreements came into effect with the exchange of the instruments of ratification, they will be duly implemented in the internal juridical environment of the State of Israel."

    Also under John Paul II, a Basic Agreement was signed with the Palestine Liberation Organization (2000), as were many agreements with African countries: Morocco, Gabon, Cote d'Ivoire, and Cameroon, as well as one with the Organization for African Unity. The Lateran Pacts with Italy were revised in 1984, and five agreements were concluded with Spain.

  Concordance with European countries "accelerated strongly" from 1989, and the Holy See signed numerous agreements with States that had formally belonged to the communist bloc: Albania, Croatia, Slovenia, and most of the new German "Lande," that had previously been part of East Germany.

  "In the early months of the pontificate of Benedict XVI," the archbishop observed, "an agreement was signed with Panama. ... And on July 12, 2005 an 'avenant' to the Convention of 1828 and to the two 'avenants' of 1974 and 1999 were signed with France concerning the Roman church of Trinita dei Monti. In the next few weeks, an agreement will be signed with Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg."

  The archbishop went on to explain with whom the agreements are made. "Normally, the Holy See concludes agreements with States," he said, "although it also does so with supranational institutions."

  "Concordats and other agreements are concluded with countries ruled by various forms of government, without any of these forms being excluded a priori. Consequently, the Holy See has sometimes been criticized for concluding agreements even with totalitarian regimes, in some way providing them with moral support and facilitating their presence on the international stage. However, it should be remembered, first of all, that by such agreements the Holy See has never recognized any specific regime. According to the norms of international law, it is the State (which remains) that concludes an agreement, and not governments or regimes (which come and go). Nor can it be forgotten that, in concluding its agreements, the Holy See aims to protect the freedom of the Church in a country, and the right of individual faithful and citizens to religious freedom, and this can prove to be even more necessary precisely when those who govern a country do not fully respect fundamental rights."

  As for the content of the agreements, the archbishop, given the impossibility of listing them all, mentioned: diplomatic relations with the Holy See, the status of the Catholic religion and of the Church, artistic and cultural heritage, and the recognition of canonical marriage.
.../CONCORDATS/LAJOLO                            VIS 20051115 (1090)

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