Among all the difficult situations in the world, the Middle East situation — including the plight of the region’s Christians — is one of the most compelling, says a former top Vatican diplomat who adds that dialogue with Islam must be fostered. Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, currently the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, served as the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States — the Vatican’s ‘foreign Minister’ — from 2006 to 2014. He granted an interview before the presentation of second-level master degrees in International Relations awarded by the Catholic-oriented university LUMSA of Rome. In his lecture, Cardinal Mamberti stressed the importance of the Holy See in the international arena. He underscored that “Church law and international law are intertwined, as international law is rooted in the universal vision of the Church.” Cardinal Mamberti told CNA May 12 that “there are many compelling challenges for Holy See diplomacy nowadays… but I think that the Middle East is for us an open wound, in particular due to the plight of Christians and because of the risks this plight bears for the stability not only of the geographical region, but for the stability of the whole world.” During this last year, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue issued two statements to urge Muslim leaders to a strong condemnation of the self-proclaimed Islamic State and to stress the need for a dialogue with Islam. Cardinal Mamberti, a French citizen born in Marrakesh, Morocco, has served as papal nuncio to Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea. He has often worked in dialogue with Islam. Asked if there is still the opportunity for a dialogue with Islam, he stressed that “certainly, a dialogue with Islam may be pursued and must be pursued.” However, he added that “speaking about a dialogue with Islam is something abstract… we must rather pursue a dialogue with Islamic representatives, believers in Islam, and develop with them, as much as possible, common actions with them in favor of peace and development.” This is the Holy See’s diplomatic commitment, whose foundation is “the defense of human dignity, together with the building of the common good of human society,” stressed Cardinal Mamberti. Speaking about the difficult migrant crisis and other problems in the Mediterranean region, Cardinal Mamberti underscored that “diplomacy must explore all the possible ways so that the human person is respected. Obviously, any initiative must be fostered under international law, and with the major goal to keep peace, as the Holy Father often reiterated: ‘Only with peace, can we build the future’.” Reflecting on the coming papal trip to Cuba and the restoration of diplomatic ties between the United States and Cuba, Cardinal Mamberti underscored that “Holy See diplomatic representatives have always been present in Cuba, and their never-ending commitment is at the basis of these recent outcomes.” “I was in Cuba some years ago, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the uninterrupted diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Cuba. During the years, through thick and thin, the Holy See has built a relation of mutual trust with Cuba, and today we can harvest the fruit of this commitment.” “On the other hand, I think that the Holy Father’s personal commitment has been very important, and all of us must be grateful to him for this,” the cardinal added.
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