Cardinal Parolin calls for a new Helsinki conference

Cardinal Pietro Parolin

Source: Vatican News

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin presented Friday at Lumsa University in Rome “Against War: The Courage to Build Peace,” a collection of writings by Pope Francis.

In his address, the Cardinal said, “There is a need today for a new Helsinki conference,” recalling the 1975 event that marked a fundamental step in stemming the Cold War. It would be a way to end the horror, the “sacrilege” of the ongoing war in Ukraine, he said.

Former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi also spoke at the book launch.

Cardinal Parolin stressed the need for a “mindset of peace” to oppose the “pattern of war.”

He said: “In the face of the tragedy we see unfolding in Ukraine, in the face of the thousands of dead, the civilians killed, the towns gutted and the millions of refugees – women, the elderly and children – forced from their homes, we cannot react according to what the pope calls the model of war.

In his speech, filled with quotations from the Catechism and the Italian Constitution, and from the heritage of Italian Catholic personalities such as Giorgio La Pira and Don Milani, the cardinal called for the rediscovery of a “spirit”: that of Aldo Moro, the then Italian Prime Minister who led 35 States, 47 years ago, to sign the Helsinki agreements to go “beyond the logic of the opposing blocs”.

“During this conference for security and cooperation in Europe, East and West have embarked on the path of detente,” he said. The Cardinal recalled the role played then by the Holy See and the delegation led by the future Cardinal Agostino Casaroli.

Supporting the memory of this historic event, the Cardinal continued, “Peace is in the interest of the peoples, international security is in the interest of all.”

Cardinal Parolin went on to call for “strengthening participation in international bodies and also finding a greater capacity for European initiative”.

It is Europe, “our Christian Europe”, he said, which is affected by the “terrible war” in progress in Ukraine.

“I will not go into the substance of the decisions that various countries have made to send arms to Ukraine, which as a nation has the right to defend itself against the invasion it has suffered.”

But he continues: “Limiting oneself to weapons is a weak answer. Yes, weapons are a weak answer, not a strong answer! said the cardinal. “A strong response is a response that undertakes – trying to involve everyone – initiatives according to the model of peace, that is to say initiatives to stop the fighting, to reach a negotiated solution, to reflect on what will be the possible future of coexistence in our Old Continent.”

Cardinal Parolin said the international community “has an obligation not to continue the war but to implement all possible political and diplomatic initiatives to achieve a ceasefire and a just peace.”

He said peace must be both just and, above all, “lasting”, and “cannot be entrusted solely to the deliberations of the aggressor and the aggressor”.

“Today we need a new Helsinki Conference.” This is a proposal made three days ago by the Italian President, Sergio Mattarella, before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. It is a proposal which is part of the Pope’s desire to overcome this “cainist” spirit which prevents us from working together as brothers.

Reflecting on the pope’s many pleas, the cardinal cautioned against taking them for granted.

It would be, he said, “a disenchanted way of looking at the magisterium of the pope”, and it would create “an ever widening gulf between his words and the reality of the facts”, and it would amount to losing sight of the fact that the The Pope’s message of peace and non-violence resides in the Gospel, where the crucified Christ “faced an unjust death without reacting”.

“Does this mean that the right to self-defense no longer exists? asked the cardinal.

“Of course not. Someone, unjustly attacked, cannot be expected not to defend their loved ones, their home, their homeland.”

The Cardinal then quoted the Catechism, in particular paragraph 2309, which states: “The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders more serious than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in the assessment of this condition.

We can no longer speak of “just wars”, he said, without taking into account the fact that “today much more than yesterday, the first victims of war are innocent civilians, due to destructive weapons that have intelligence only in appearance”. “

Cardinal Parolin also referred to the encyclical Fratelli tutti, Pope John XXIII’s Pacem in Terris and Pope Benedict XV’s “ignored” peace note.

A wealth of magisterium to which is added the clairvoyance of the Pontiffs, such as Saint John Paul II who “implores the forces of the West not to wage war on Iraq”. The cardinal said that the consequences of this war, after 20 years, are still visible to all.

The invitation is therefore not to forget the past. “Crushed by the daily newspaper, stuffed with information of all kinds, not exempt from fake news and propaganda”, declared Cardinal Parolin, the risk exists of setting aside historical memory, even recent, bringing down the wars in progress in other parts of the world. in oblivion, wars fueled by the arms trade and with “devastating” consequences on the civilian populations, in particular on the children “first victims”.

He also gave the examples of Syria, Yemen and Ethiopia’s Tigray region, saying they are all pieces of a larger puzzle defined by Pope Francis as a “third world war fought piecemeal “.

The pope, he added, never ceased to awaken the consciences of the authorities, asking them to “give up pursuing this hell of destruction and seek negotiated solutions, even at the cost of sacrifices”.

Concretely, continued Cardinal Parolin, what should we do?

Certainly not crying over spilled milk, or looking for responsibilities and omissions, but rather, one must “understand how we got here, writing the word ‘end’ to the period of peace ushered in after the end of World War II. world, and to the many hopes born of the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

“We continued to build a world based on military alliances and economic colonization,” noted the Secretary of State. “Looking at what has happened in recent decades should convince us of the need to have more confidence in international bodies and their development, and to try to make them more of a ‘common home’, where everyone feels represented. “

A priority, at the same time, would be “to build a new system of international relations, no longer based on deterrence and military force”. It is a “priority” to avoid “running towards the abyss of total war”. The logic he proposes is that of Giorgio La Pira: “Not an inevitable war, but an inevitable peace.

Responding to a question on the possible conditions for a return to the negotiating table, Cardinal Parolin said he was “pessimistic”, because in recent months “attempts have been initiated or proposed, which have had no follow-up “.

At the same time, he said, “there are no other alternatives: we must continue to propose that first all fighting and war actions be stopped, and that we return to negotiations”.

It is however important to “negotiate without ‘pre-conditions'”, so that “when the conditions are put on the table, we try to find shared solutions. We must insist on this. There is no other way, otherwise, the war will continue to devour the children of Ukraine and the peace that will be built will not be a just and lasting peace, but only the imposition of certain conditions, a premise for other conflicts, other tensions , other wars.”

The hope is therefore for a “just, lasting, solid peace”, but also that we are able to show “flexibility”, and to overcome “rigid positions”.

“Negotiation,” said the Secretary of State, “always involves compromise. Rigid positions do not lead to solutions. I hope there is always a will to reach a conclusion together.”

Returning to the concept and the proposal of a “new Helsinki”, Cardinal Parolin underlined that “the important thing is to return to the spirit” of this Conference, “lost too soon”.

At the time, in a time of growing contrasts and tensions, “there was the wisdom of someone saying ‘we have to stop this drift’. And this drift was stopped by bringing the different protagonists together and designing a remarkable result which has produced so much change in Europe.”

“This war, perhaps no one thought it would break out… But I have the impression that this war was the obvious consequence of a process of the last decades. The Holy See spoke of the erosion of multilateralism: you could see that the nations and the leaders no longer believed in a common solution to the problems which each sought to solve in its own way, according to the interests of the nations and the groups. It was logical that the process led to this conclusion and it will continue to lead to similar conclusions if this trend is not halted.”

Keywords: Cardinal Parolin, Helsinki Conference, Peace, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis, Lumsa University, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, Pope John Paul II, Romano Prodi, Giorgio La Pira, Aldo Moro, Don Milani,

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