Pietro Parolin, who is the head of Vatican diplomacy to whom the Pope entrusts mediation with Putin, counting on the “martyrdom of patience”

Pietro Parolin, who is the head of Vatican diplomacy to whom the Pope entrusts mediation with Putin, counting on the “martyrdom of patience”

“He is not bold, he is not impetuous, he drives gently”. When the then monsignor Pietro Parolin was appointed by Pope Francesco its secretary of state, on 31 August 2013, ilfattoquotidiano. he asked for a comment from the one who had been his direct superior in the main department of the Roman Curia, the cardinal Giovanni Lajolo. In 2003 the future cardinal was appointed by St. John Paul II as Secretary for Relations with States or foreign Minister of the Pope. As his deputy, he found the then Monsignor Parolin who, just a year earlier, had been chosen by the Polish Pope as undersecretary for relations with states. A collaborative relationship, that between Lajolo and Parolin, lasted three years, until 2006 when Benedict XVI promoted the future cardinal president of the Governorate of the Vatican City State. Parolin, on the other hand, remained in that role in State Secretariat for three more years, until 2009 when, again Ratzinger, appointed him nuncio to Venezuelapersonally ordaining his bishop.

“Monsignor Parolin, then undersecretary, – said Cardinal Lajolo – introduced me with great humanity and kindness to my new office as secretary for relations with states. He already had one universal vision of the Church and knew very well all diplomatic problems of the Holy See. I love him because he has been so good to me. I can only praise her shrewdness and wisdom. Many times I made somewhat impetuous decisions and he would immediately say: ‘Watch out! It is better to do this. ‘ He was always perfect. Maybe he’s a bit shy, but that’s also nice ”. A figure, that of Cardinal Parolin, whom Francis recently wanted to praise for the intense work carried out alongside him, often with enormous discretion also in the offer of the mediation of Vatican by the end of the war in Ukraine: “Really a great diplomat, in the tradition of Agostino Casarolihe knows how to move in that world, I trust him a lot and I rely on him ”, he told al Corriere Della Sera.

Cardinal Parolin, son of the glorious diplomatic school Vatican Council of recent decades, the one that has effectively supported the pontificates of Roncalli, Montini e Wojtyla, immediately supported Bergoglio in the governance of the universal Church. An appointment, that of the Secretary of State, requested with insistence by the large majority of the College of Cardinals who, in conclave in 2013, he had elected Bergoglio to the detriment of the then archbishop of Milan, the CL Angelo Scola, who traveled with the media favor and who, in the first two votes in the Sistine Chapel, had collected the majority of the votes. A secretary of state who quickly retired the Salesian Tarcisio Bertoneguilty, according to the cardinal electors, of not having been able to manage the major and frequent crises of the Ratzingerian pontificate, which ended with the unfortunate, according to the cardinals, decision of the resignation by Benedict XVI.

The indication delivered into the hands of the new Pope was very clear: to recall a man of Vatican diplomacy and not a pastor, as Bertone was appointed secretary of state while he was archbishop of Genoa. From there, the decision, accelerated by the Cardinal Archbishop of New York, Timothy Michael Dolan, of a radical change of method in the choice of the main collaborator of the bishop of Rome. Bergoglio’s response was not long in coming: Parolin, born in 1955, was recalled after just four years from Venezuela to Rome. On his desk, before he became apostolic nuncioimportant dossiers had passed through, such as Benedict XVI’s letter to Chinese Catholics dated 2007. The dossier which, as secretary of state, Parolin took up again by signing, in total harmony with Francis, the provisional agreement between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China on the appointment of bishops. The two-year agreement, already renewed once despite the controversies, more internal than external to the Catholic world, was directed more precisely against Parolin.

The fidelity of the secretary of state to the Pope is undisputed. Just as in these nine years of close collaboration with the observers more attentive, Parolin’s great ability to impose, always with moderation and convincing arguments, his vision of reform of the Roman Curia, in particular the role of the Secretariat of State. This vision was then incorporated into the recent apostolic constitution Proclaim the Gospel which will enter into force on June 5, 2022. A reform that was born, before Parolin arrived in Rome and his consequent entry into the Council of Cardinals who drafted it, to put the Secretariat of State in the corner which, instead, has emerged strengthened thanks to the vision of the cardinal.

Precisely the diversity of characters between the Pope and Parolin, the former expansive, the latter introverted, has allowed for these nine years of effective teamwork. Francesco blindly trusts his secretary of state and this is by no means taken for granted for a Pontiff who, as we have seen for example in the media field, loves to dribble collaborators to directly manage the practices they care about most. With Parolin, however, Bergoglio has always been aware that he cannot do without his skills and his knowledge of the times and languages ​​of Vatican diplomacy. It is no coincidence that the Secretary of State has often referred to a famous maxim of Cardinal Casaroli: “The martyrdom of patience”. Some have always been in Curia argue that Parolin perfectly embodies that expression and that, even in these months of the war in Ukraine his contacts with the Kremlin particular with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrovalways in the name of the Pope, were inspired by that maxim.

A certainly effective and winning collaboration, that between Francis and Parolin, as the Pontiff himself acknowledged, has its foundations on the eve of the white smoke when the then nuncio in Venezuela looked positively at the election of a Latin American cardinal as bishop of Rome. “L’America Latina – Parolin declared – has all the qualifications to be able to express a Pope. Let us not forget that it is the continent where the relative majority of the world’s Catholics live. It’s about a Living Church present in society, aware of his vocation to disciple-missionary. I believe that the election of a Latin American Pope will be able to impress a strong impulse to the evangelization of our time and to the contribution that the Church is called to give to the solution of the great current problems, such as the poverty social justice, the peaceful coexistence “. Words that have materialized in nine years.

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